Opponent Preview – Week 5 – Syracuse Orange

There’s a story I tell about a Florida fan standing up in the middle of a bar in Tampa some years ago and yelling at the top of his lungs, “THE BEST 4-4 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY…” and I laughed with friends about it, thinking “what does that get you?” and obviously still tell the story to this day.  However, that’s how it feels with Clemson. 

Coach Swinney has said this team is just a couple of plays away from 4-0 and as terrible as it is to think that way, I’m not sure he’s wrong.  Turnovers kill and have killed Clemson’s season thus far.  Here’s to hoping this week will be different.

Week 5 is here and the Tigers take that moniker that I have bestowed upon them, up to Syracuse, New York to face the 4-0 Syracuse Orange.

Here is a look at everything you will need to know about the Tiger’s Week 5 Opponent:

Syracuse University Orange

Location: Syracuse, NY

Time: 12:00 pm EST

2023 Record – 4-0; Last Week: Win vs. Army 29-16

4 Wins against: Colgate, Western Michigan, Purdue, Army

Head Coach: Dino Babers – 8th Season – 40-48 overall at Syracuse

Coach Babers is in his 8th season as the Head Coach of the Orange.  He’s had a few up years and a few down years, but seemingly always puts a decent product on the field when facing Clemson.  Babers came to Syracuse, nine years ago, after a highly successful run as the Head Coach of the Bowling Green Falcons.  Babers brings a hard-nosed style of football and his teams always play hard regardless of opponent. 


Offensive Coordinator: Jason Beck – 1st Year as OC; 2nd year on staff (Previous: UVA QB Coach, BYU QB Coach)

Jason Beck inherits an offense with it’s most dynamic playmaker calling the signals.  A ton of turnover as well as some injuries (notably WR Orande Gadsden II), yet the offense is still rolling right along.  Having your leading rusher be your quarterback may not be sustainable throughout the year, but if anyone can do it, Garrett Shrader can.  And it certainly does not feel like Beck is going to stop calling his number. 

Syracuse is averaging 44.3 points per game with 213.3 yards per game rushing and 294.5 through the air for an eye-opening 507.8 total yards of offense on average through 4 games.

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Syracuse Orange as well as their 2023 statistics:

QuarterbackGarrett ShraderSenior#672-108 972 yds. 6 TDs, 3 Ints; 66% passing46 rush,. 350 yds. 6 TDs
Running BackLeQuint Allen Jr. Sophomore#111 catches, 95 yds62 rush, 320 yds. 6 TDs
Wide ReceiverDamien AlfordJunior#517 catches, 247 yds. 1 TD
Wide ReceiverDonovan BrownRS Freshman#8715 catches, 239 yds. 1 TD1 rush, -3 yards
Wide ReceiverUmari HatcherRS Sophomore#1713 catches, 225 yds. 2 TDs
Tight EndMax MangJunior#811 catch, 7 yds
Left TackleEnrique CruzRS Sophomore#70
Left GuardChris BleichRS Senior#63
CenterJ’Onre Reed (Hutchinson CC)Junior#50
Right GuardJakob BradfordRS Junior#74
Right TackleMark PetryRS Junior#72


Defensive Coordinator: Rocky Long – 1st Year – (Previous: Long time HC at New Mexico; DC New Mexico, DC San Diego State)

Rocky Long has spent nearly 50 years in coaching.  The former longtime Head Coach at New Mexico answered the call from friend Dino Babers and is now bringing his patented 3-3-5 defense to Western New York.  

The defense has given up an average of 10.8 points in their first four outings of 2023.  They have given up 89.5 yards per game on the ground and 185.3 yards through the air.  We thought the offensive numbers were gaudy, but the defense has eye-popping numbers as well, averaging only giving up 274.8 total yards per game through four games.

The Orange are +5 with the turnover margin through week four, having thrown 3 interceptions and picking off 6 balls, as well as having caused 4 fumbles and have lost 2 fumbles in the four games so far.  Notable: The Orange have forced 12 fumbles through 4 games, but have only recovered 4 of them.  

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Orange on defense along with some stats from the season:

Defensive EndCaleb OkechukwuRS Senior#48 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Sack
Defensive TackleKevon DartonRS Junior#08 Tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 2 Sacks
Defensive EndDenis Jaquez Jr. OR Terry LockettSophomore OR RS Sophomore#58 OR #909 Tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1.5 Sacks OR 7 Tackles, 1 TFL
LinebackerLeon Lowery Jr.RS Sophomore#1612 Tackles, 1 TFL, 0.5 Sacks
LinebackerMarlowe Wax Jr.Junior#231 Tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 Sacks, 1 Int.
LinebackerDerek McDonaldRS Sophomore#1518 Tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.5 Sacks
CornerbackIsaiah JohnsonRS Senior#324 Tackles, 1 TFL
Boundary SafetyAlijah ClarkJunior#524 Tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 Fumble Recovery
RoverJustin BarronJunior#823 Tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1 Int.
Free SafetyJason Simmons Jr.Senior#612 Tackles, 1 Int.
CornerbackJeremiah WilsonSophomore#1413 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Int.

Special Teams 

Here is a list of the specialists for the Orange along with statistics from the season so far:

KickerBrady DenaburgSophomore#156-7; long of 46 yards
PunterJack StonehouseRS Sophomore#4111 att.; avg of 44.5; long of 55 yards
Punt ReturnerD’Marcus AdamsRS Senior#8512 att. 108 yds. long of 39 yds
Kick ReturnerD’Marcus AdamsRS Senior#856 att. 93 yds. long of 23 yds.


Syracuse comes into the game riding a 4 game winning streak and a hot quarterback in Garrett Shrader.  The opponents have not necessarily been of the highest tier, however the Orange have just continued to win.  This will be a step up in competition for them.  Interestingly, ESPN FPI gives Syracuse a 55% chance of winning the game, but the Tigers are the betting favorites by a touchdown.  Something has to give. 

It sounds like a broken record, but if Clemson can limit the catastrophic turnovers at inopportune times, I like their chances.  If not, Syracuse, and notably, their Quarterback (and RB too) are good enough to win this game up there in the Dome.  

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