The loss to Penn State is in the past, and while Syracuse Football is using lessons learned in that game going forward, its focus is absolutely on the Wildcats.
Northwestern is a very dynamic and unique offensive team. With two quarterbacks (Kain Colter is questionable with a concussion) that both run the spread to near perfection.
Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer is excited for the challenge but also aware of just how difficult it will be.
"Coach Fitzgerald and Mick McCall as offensive coordinator, they do a great job with the spread offense, creating a quick tempo, and they have like two or three different speeds they can go at. The thing that makes them most perplexing in preparing for them is they have two different styles of quarterbacks that they can play. You have Colter and you have Siemian. Colter is the athlete back there that's good at the designed run plays as well as creating space and time with his feet in the passing game, whereas Siemian is a little bit more traditional and a little bit more pinpoint accurate with his passing game and reading coverages. You're really preparing with two types of game plans depending on who's in the game, and that's probably the most perplexing side of your game from a defensive point of view" Shafer said during today's ACC Teleconference.
On the other side of the coin, the Syracuse offense has drawn the ire of Orange fans, but Shafer feels good about where his squad is at this point in time especially regarding quarterback Drew Allen.
"If you just looked at the stats sheet you'd say, boy, I wish we could have done better. But big picture I was real pleased with the way Drew played. The things I was most pleased with, he never really was flustered on the sideline. I thought he had good control and command. He kept working towards making the next play go. We had a few dropped balls in there and a couple missed routes by the supporting cast, but I liked the way he worked positively through those situations, and I'm looking forward to seeing him get his second start this week against Northwestern" Shafer said.
Syracuse is looking to avoid an 0-2 start for the second straight season, and while we learned in 2012 that the start doesn't necessarily reflect how the season will go, The Orange is absolutely itching for a victory.
It was Jay Bromley who reminded us just how badly the Orange wants revenge after a tough loss to the Wildcats in the 2012 season opener.
Syracuse rallied from a 35-13 deficit to take a 41-35 lead, only to fall in the game's final minute 42-41.
And while the Orange is on the road for Saturday's 6:00 p.m. kickoff, that just enhances the opportunity to return the favor.
But it's not just avenging a loss to Northwestern, it's also exercising the demons of that loss to Penn State. A game which Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald says Syracuse "Could have, and should have won"
Coach Shafer agrees.
"I think he's right; I think our staff and our kids both feel the same way, that if we make one more play here or there, we put ourselves in a position to come out with a victory, and that's football. And we didn't get that done. I think he's dead on, and really for the most part I guess all I can say above and beyond that is that he's a great coach that I truly respect."