It’s week four and the Cavs are headed north. This week, the Cavs will take on the Syracuse Orange in the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, NY. The 2-1 Cavs are headed to New York to face an undefeated Syracuse Orange. Will the Hoos notch a second consecutive W, their first on-the-road this season? Hopefully! To watch UVA vs. Syracuse, tune into ESPN at 7:00 PM EST on Friday night.
UVA vs. Syracuse: A Reunion
Friday will be an interesting matchup for the Cavs.
Syracuse is currently undefeated and looks to stay that way. The Cavs are 2-1, with decent performances against Richmond and ODU and a stunning loss to the Fighting Illini in week two. While Syracuse is currently heavily favored, this is an important game for both teams. And, for the veteran Cavs players, it’s a reunion.
Coaches Robert Anae and Jason Beck will join the Cavs on the field this Friday in a different shade of orange. Members of UVA’s coaching staff under Bronco Mendenhall, Anae and Beck departed the university after Mendenhall announced his resignation. Both went on to join the Syracuse coaching staff and will watch from the other side as their former players work to best their current players on Friday night.
Coach Tony Elliott is coaching his team to focus on the game and not let emotions influence their efforts. “The only challenge that I had to my guys, because they do have relationships with those individuals, is let’s not make it bigger than what it needs to be. It’s all about the game. Let’s focus on what we can control.”
Anae and Beck coached the Cavs to explosive offensive performances last season, performances that have been tougher to replicate this season. But, the Cavs will head into Friday with a game plan and probably some sense of familiarity with the offensive game Syracuse intends to play.
What To Expect
Despite similarities in the offense Syracuse will run on Friday, the Cavs don’t expect the playbook to be identical. Anae has the Orange running the ball about 60 percent of the time, well beyond last year’s roughly 35 percent with the Cavs. Given the explosive talent of RB Sean Tucker, this makes sense for Syracuse’s game.
“Good coaches are going to do what their personnel allows them to do,” says Coach Elliott, adding that he’s not asking for additional information. While the coaching of Anae helped grow Brennan Armstrong and other veteran offensive players, Elliott’s Cavs are going to play Elliott’s game.
UVA vs. Syracuse: Hoo’s in the Spotlight
This week, expect Nick Jackson to continue leading the Cavs’ defense. Jackson will have to be the Cavs’ answer for RB Sean Tucker. Jackson had a stellar 2021 season and has continued strong into 2022. He will be relied on to trap and stop Tucker but it won’t be easy. Jackson isn’t as agile or as quick as Tucker but he finished last season as the ACC’s top tackler; that has to count for something, right?
Lavel Davis and Keytaon Thompson should perform dangerously as usual at wideout for the Cavs. The real matchup to watch for this week will be Dontayvion Wicks and CB Duce Chestnut. Wicks blew the 2021 season out of the water but this season he’s been plagued with a case of the drops. Chestnut has played well this year but almost missed a crucial tackle that could’ve cost the Orange the game against Purdue. The Cavs are the most talented group of receivers Syracuse has faced this season so far. If Wicks can catch some balls and regain his confidence, that could spell game over for the Orange.
Hoo’s Missing The Game
Cavs receiver Billy Kemp IV is not expected to return for this week’s game after missing last week’s game due to illness. Per Coach Elliott, missing this week’s game is per the choice to err on the side of caution so as not to risk jeopardizing Kemp’s health overall.
Cavs safety Antonio Clary’s status is day-to-day and will likely be a game day decision. Clary has been recovering from a shoulder injury. Per Coach Elliott, Clary practiced this week and participated in some tackling drills but Friday’s decision is likely to be a game time decision.
UVA vs. Syracuse: Vegas Odds
Per FanDuel Sportsbook, Syracuse is the favorite in this one right now. Friday games can get a little weird and I’d love to see a UVA upset but I wouldn’t bet on one to happen.
Right now, Syracuse is powered by momentum. Virginia has yet to gain the same kind of momentum after what’s been a rocky start to the season. The game Friday is at Syracuse, so Syracuse has the support of the home crowd behind them. I don’t think this will be a runaway game, but I think Syracuse will end up with the win this week.
If you’re betting on this game, Syracuse to cover the spread is a safe bet based on recent betting trends.
For a post-game, post-gamble recap check out the University of Virginia on Gridiron Heroics on Saturday!