By Sean Fernandez
After vicious comebacks fell short against Northwestern and USC, the Orange turn their focus to a new, lower tier opponent, the Stony Brook Seawolves. If you're not accustomed to hearing about the Seawolves, don't feel bad. This is the first ever match up between the two schools, and SBU is the lone FCS team that the Orange will play this year.
The Seawolves' offense has been able to move the ball and put up points without much trouble in their first two games. Because of their high-powered offensive attack, they are 2-0, having beaten Central Conn. State 49-17 and Pace 77-7. I'd be shocked if they put up anywhere close to that many points, but they won't roll over like a typical FCS opponent.
On offense for SBU, senior Quarterback Kyle Essington takes the snaps. He's an accurate passer that threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 TD's a year ago. If the Orange secondary plays well, we shouldn't have too much to worry about through the air. For SU, the real concern will come on the ground, where RB's Miguel Maysonet and Marcus Coker have been pretty much unstoppable. Maysonet is an Iowa Hawkeye transfer that ran for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. He won the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year award a year ago, and is really, really fast. Coker is also talented, although he doesn't get nearly as many carries. Look for Doug Marrone to crowd the line of scrimmage and put up to 8 guys in the box to help slow these speedsters down. If the Orange can shut Maysonet down, it should be a walk in the park. If he runs wild, we may be in danger of falling to 0-3. Uh oh.
Defensively, the Seawolves really don't have an answer for Ryan Nassib and his talented cast of WR's. Nassib is second in the nation in passing yards. The SBU secondary, which features a set of senior safeties in Dominick Reyes and Cedrick Moore, will have its hands full all game. From the first quarter on, look for Syracuse WR's Marcus Sales and the finally healthy Alec Lemon to find holes downfield, and for Nassib to find them.
The Syracuse running game hasn't been too effective so far this year, although Prince Tyson-Gulley has had an impressive 6+ yd per carry average. When the Big East portion of the schedule rolls around, PTG and Jerome Smith will have to get going. This is a good opportunity for the two competing RB's to start finding holes and breaking long runs.
If the Orange plan on making a bowl game this year, they absolutely have to win this game. As far as FCS teams go, Stony Brook is among the most talented, but a team like Syracuse losing to a team like the Seawolves would be a disaster.
Game Prediction: Nassib erupts again, and the Orange finally get a win. Final Score- 39-14, SU.