With these Five Keys the Bearcats will lock up the world. Or at the very least they will put a stop to yet another dramatic late season slide.
Once again all eyes in the stadium will be on the 6'5" bedreaded figure that is Munchie Legaux. Syracuse has a good defense, it's not as good as Rutgers for the simple reason that their secondary isn't very good. Legaux will have favorable match ups on the perimeter of the defense with Kenbrell Thompkins and with Anthony McClung in the slot. The caveat to that is that Syracuse will blitz relentlessly from all angles. If Munchie can beat the blitz there will be all kinds of opportunities for big plays on the perimeter and down the seems of the coverage.
The Defensive Line
Against Rutgers the front seven played their worst game of the season. They were dominated at the point of attack by a rushing attack that heretofore had not been able to run on grass, let alone the best rush defense in the conference. Syracuse will play a similar style on offense. They work the ground game (48/52 run pass ratio) so that they can use play action, where Ryan Nasib is very effective. Nasib hasn't had a lot of help from the ground game, Cuse ranks 7th in front of Rutgers by 15 yards. To give the secondary a chance the defensive line has to be their normal dominant self. They certainly can't afford to give up 200 yards to a team that hasn't rushed for that much yardage in a game yet.
Munchie Legaux struggled against Rutgers, but the receivers did him no favors. Of his 19 incompetions against Rutgers 5 of them were flat out dropped by his receivers. Four of those five drops would have went for first downs, three of them would have gone for 10 or more yards. Legaux is a guy that has talent, but his accuracy isn't there all the time. The receivers need to understand that and try to pick up the slack for their quarterback.
Limit Big Plays
This one could probably be included in any preview of literally any game. But it should be a bullet point for the Bearcats defense tomorrow. The reason being that Syracuse in and of themselves are not an offense that produces big plays by themselves. They are 7th in the Big East with plays of 10 yards or more, dead last with plays of 30 yards or longer and middle of the pack for plays of 20 plus yards. The point being that Syracuse is a team that has to grind out drives to score. Their 65 3rd down conversions is second only to Rutgers in the Big East. Taking away the big plays will make the Orange really work for their yards and for their points, which is what they are used to. Syracuse isn't a good offensive team so UC can't make it easy for them.
He is going to be the focal point of the Syracuse defense, just like he was for the Rutgers defense. It is imperative that the coaching staff find ways to break tendency and find ways to get him the ball in space. Whether that involves splitting him out wide to run a go route, the screen game, or the cheap and inexpensive speed option. Simply said Isaiah Pead is the most dangerous and explosive offensive player on a team that frankly has had very little in the way of (good) danger or explosion on offense. He needs to get the ball, but beyond getting the ball he needs to get it in unexpected places where he can wreak havoc on defenses. ie in space, where one good move can get him a TD. UC made no effort to do that against Rutgers, they have to do that against Syracuse to win.