Clemson Football visits the JMA Wireless Dome this Saturday to take on the Syracuse Orange. Clemson will be attempting to bounce back from a loss to the Florida State Seminoles.
The Orange have played the Tigers very well in recent years. Last season, Syracuse was undefeated when they visited Death Valley. They led Clemson until the second half. The Tigers decided to replace starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei with Cade Klubnik.
Klubnik wasn’t spectacular, but the change was enough to spark a comeback for the Tigers. Clemson ultimately won 27-20 behind 17 points scored by the Tigers in the 4th quarter.
Clemson’s defense also stepped up in the second half and held the Orange scoreless, but it didn’t stop Syracuse quarterback Garrett Schrader from putting up some numbers. Schrader went 18 for 26 passing with 167 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The interception came on the Orange’s final possession when Schrader had to play hero ball.
Schrader also led the Orange in rushing that day, despite the presence of running back Sean Tucker in the backfield. Schrader had 71 yards rushing on 21 carries and one rushing touchdown.
Schrader is having similar success in the 2023 season. He has 972 passing yards through four victories so far. To put that in perspective, Klubnik has 976 yards through four games. Schrader has a 66.7% completion rate compared to Klubnik at 66.2%.
Where Schrader contributes much more than Klubnik is in the run game. Schrader leads the Orange in rushing with 316 yards on 46 carries (6.9 yards per rush). Syracuse also has LaQuint Allen, who has rushed for 311 yards.
Both Schrader and Allen have more yards than Will Shipley (292 yards) and Phil Mafah (235 yards).
Stopping Garrett Schrader will be the key to success for Clemson Football in Syracuse this Saturday
While one can make an argument that Syracuse hasn’t faced a defense in 2023 nearly as talented as Clemson’s, one can’t argue that Schrader is not the straw that stirs the drink for the Orange offense. To stop the Syracuse offense, the Tiger defense will need to corral Schrader.
The primary job for that will fall to the front six/seven. The defensive backfield will need to be on their game too, but the key will be putting pressure on Schrader when he’s in the pocket and containing him when he decides to run.
Schrader’s yards per completion is 9.0. In contrast, Klubnik is at 6.7 yards. Syracuse has fewer receptions, but more passing yards than Clemson. This means Schrader is much more likely to go long downfield than Klubnik has thus far.
The Tiger pass rush will need to collapse the pocket quickly to prevent from having the time to wait for receivers to come open. As with Florida State, Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter will need to step up to make sure Schrader can’t kill the Tigers on the ground.
Schrader is a player that has ‘it’. He might not have the biggest arm or the fastest feet, but he wins ball games and he is very experienced. The defensive line will need to win this part of the game for Clemson to find success on the road in Syracuse.