Players to watch: Syracuse at NC State

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With a 5-5 record this season, the Syracuse Orange will face NC State in Raleigh on Saturday. The game could potentially give Syracuse the magical number of wins they need to become bowl eligible, or it could come down to the regular season finale against Pitt.

Here are the players to watch for this game which will have a significant impact on the game.

NC STATE

QB Devin Leary: The second-year redshirt quarterback may not be in the Heisman race, but his field play has been stellar this season. Emerging from a fractured fibula last year, Leary was simply electric in the air, passing nearly 3,000 meters. Leary currently sits 7th nationally in touchdown passes (29) and has limited his mistakes throughout the season with just five interceptions. Syracuse is arguably facing his toughest test for QB this season. With bowling eligibility in play for the Orange, the game can boil down to whether their secondary can keep up with this deadly attack.

LB Drake Thomas: A defender’s Swiss Army knife can do anything for the Wolfpack. Not only does the second-year linebacker lead the team in tackles (82 overall), he also leads the team in sacks (4) and interceptions (2). Thomas has been a devastator throughout the season for this top-25-ranked defense (329.9 yards against per game). Orange will have to set the run to have a chance in this match. However, with Thomas hiding on all four descents, this task can be a tough climb.

S Tanner Ingle: After a hamstring injury that hampered Ingle for much of the 2020 season, junior safety has quietly enjoyed a productive rebounding season. The Orlando, Fla. Junior ranks second on the team in tackles (69 overall) and has been a force in high school. The Orange will have to get Ingle out of his island in high school if they want to open the passing game.

SYRACUSE

RB Sean Tucker: Tucker played his first game under 100 yards rushing last week (95 yards) since week two against Rutgers (54 yards). Despite a week off for the whole offense, productivity comes through the Doak Walker Award semi-finalist. Tucker will have his work cut out for him on Saturday against the 10th-ranked run defense in the Wolfpack (102.1 yards allowed). The Orange will have to count on Tucker to carry the load of the offensive if it expects to maintain the pace with this strong team of the State of the NC.

CB Garrett Williams: The first year phenomenon has been electric in the secondary all season for orange defense. However, following Louisville’s dismantling of the team last week, the high school in particular is looking to bounce back. Williams, alongside Duce Chestnut, will have arguably the most crucial task of the day for the Orange: controlling the three talented Wolfpack receivers. Even with his eight deflected passes over the year, Williams is still chasing his first interception this season. Dealing with a hefty offense in the state of North Carolina may be an opportunity to get it on Saturday.

LB Marlowe wax: Continuing the trend of freshmen on the defensive end of the ball, Wax has been a complex part of that Syracuse defense. From his linebacker position, Wax was not only able to disrupt the running game, but was also able to get past the quarterback (6 sacks). For the Orange defense to follow quarterback Devin Leary, Wax will need to be a force on the line of scrimmage to put Leary uncomfortable in the pocket.

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