Football

Syracuse football opponent preview: What to know about Central Connecticut State

Courtesy of Central Connecticut State Athletics

Syracuse head coach Dino Babers cautioned that this could be a trap game, but, per ESPN's Power Indox, the Orange has a 99.5 percent chance to beat an FCS school that finished 2-9 last season.

Syracuse finally gets its season underway Friday with a 7 p.m. matchup against Central Connecticut State. The Orange is coming off a 4-8 season in which it lost its last four games. CCSU went only 2-9 last year.

Here’s what you need to know about the Blue Devils.

All-time series: This is the first matchup between the two teams.

The Central Connecticut Report: CCSU struggled last year, finishing tied for last in the Northeast Conference. It returned 18 starters from a year ago and was picked to finish fourth in the conference in a preseason coaches poll.

The Blue Devils struggled to stop teams last season, allowing 34.8 points per game against a schedule of only FCS schools. Linebacker Randall Laguerre leads the unit. His 116 tackles were the best in the NEC a year ago. The return of defensive back Jevon Elmore from injury should help shore up the defense.

Central Connecticut State’s offense wasn’t much better. The team averaged only three yards per carry, though starter Cameron Nash racked up a little more than four yards per carry. Quarterback Jacob Dolegala averaged about 267 passing yards per game and had nearly a 3:2 touchdown to interception ratio (15 to nine a season ago). Wide receiver Joey Fields leads the receiving corp. He tallied 732 yards a year ago.

How Syracuse beats Central Connecticut: Head coach Dino Babers waxed poetic during Monday’s press conference about how this can be a trap game for SU, saying that it’s a team that can be overlooked. That can be true. The Orange is also the more talented team. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Syracuse a 99.5 percent chance of winning the game. As long as Syracuse plays its style, it may seal game one by halftime.

Stat to know: 20 — Number of starters SU returns who started at least six games last season, best in the country.

Player to watch: Joey Fields, wide receiver, No. 3

Syracuse’s offense should have no trouble carving through the CCSU defense. Look for the other side of the ball for the Blue Devils to have an impact player. Fields had five or more catches in a game six times last season and had more than 200 more yards than his next-closest teammate. Fields will be the first player to test SU’s new secondary.

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