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Liberty Flames vs. Syracuse Orange Preview and Predictions 10-17-2020

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Rex Culpepper likely will be under center as Syracuse steps out of ACC action for the only time this season Saturday, hosting non-conference foe Liberty.

Second-year starter Tommy DeVito likely was lost for the season last week after sustaining a left leg injury while being sacked for the fifth time in the Orange's 38-24 loss to previously winless Duke.

While Syracuse coach Dino Babers officially hasn't committed to starting Culpepper against the Flames (4-0), there is some familiarity with the redshirt senior. Culpepper has appeared in all four Syracuse games this season, completing 8 of 19 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"I think that we can run our offense with him, and we will continue to run our offense," Babers said. "Now we're going to always have wrinkles. We'll have wrinkles to try to move the football. But as far as changing what we do, we shouldn't be drastically changing what we do with Rex behind center."

Injuries are taking their toll on Syracuse (1-3), which will be without preseason All-American defensive back Andre Cisco for the remainder of the season.

Cisco collided with a teammate during pregame warmups prior to the Orange's 37-20 victory over Georgia Tech on Sept. 26. He sustained a knee injury and hasn't played since.

"Football's physical, and that's the part that makes it different from other sports. It's the part that you embrace," Babers said. "We understand that people are going to get hurt and that next guys have to step up. It's what makes the game unique. We accept that part of it."

Moreover, linebacker Geoff Cantin-Arku scored on a fumble return but later exited the contest with an undisclosed injury.

While the Orange forced four turnovers to boost their total to a nation-leading 14 through four games, the team was outgained 645-286 in total yards. Syracuse's ground attack mustered just 28 yards on 23 carries in the loss.

The bright spot continues to be Taj Harris, who boosted his team-leading totals in catches (17), receiving yards (338) and touchdowns (three) while reeling in six for 138 yards and a score against the Blue Devils.

Liberty kept its perfect start intact with three special teams touchdowns in a 40-7 romp over Louisiana Monroe on Saturday.

Treon Sibley recovered a dropped snap in the end zone and blocked another punt attempt that was recovered by Chancellor Smith for a score. Demario Douglas had a 38-yard punt return that led to the Flames' first touchdown and returned another 73 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

"We brought everything we've got," Sibley said, per The News & Advance. "We wanted to show that we're not going to be played with on special teams and we're going to make plays."

Liberty's defense held the Warhawks to 198 total yards of offense, highlighted by 11 three-and-outs on 14 offensive possessions.

"I think the special teams and our defense were as good as I've been around on a given day," Flames coach Hugh Freeze said. "Man, give them great credit."

--Field Level Media

Prediction

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

Carrier Dome
Syracuse, New York, USA.
Capacity: 49,250

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Last Injuries

Syracuse Orange

  • Neil Nunn

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Nunn missed the last game due to an undetermined ailment, and it remains to be seen if he will take the field against Clemson on Saturday.

  • Steve Linton

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

  • Anthony Red

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Red sat out the previous game due to an unknown ailment, and it has yet to be established if he will face Clemson on Saturday.

  • Latarie Kinsler

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Kinsler has been unavailable for the previous two games due to an undetermined injury, and it remains to be seen if he will face Clemson on Saturday.

  • Qadir White

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    White has sat out the last two games with an unknown ailment. It is unclear if he will be a participant Saturday versus Clemson.

  • Wil Froumy

    Lower Body
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Froumy has sat out the previous two games due to a lower-body injury, leaving his status for Saturday's matchup against Clemson hazy.

  • Eric Coley

    Foot
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Coley has sat out the previous three contests with a foot injury, and it is unknown if he will return Saturday versus Clemson.

  • Adrian Cole

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Cole has missed the last two games due to an unspecified ailment, and it is unknown if he will dress for Saturday's tilt versus Clemson.

Liberty Flames

  • CJ Yarbrough

    Foot
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Yarbrough missed the last game due to a foot injury, and it remains to be seen if he will line up Saturday versus Southern Miss.

  • Jason Stricker

    Undisclosed
    Out indefinitely | out

    Stricker has been sidelined due to an unspecified injury, and it is unclear when he will make his season debut.

  • Jaivian Lofton

    Ankle
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Lofton sat out the last game with an ankle injury, and it is unclear if he will suit up against Southern Miss on Saturday.

  • Joshua Mack

    Illness
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Mack was lifted from the previous game with an illness. It is unclear if he will face Southern Miss on Saturday.

  • Frank Boyd

    Foot
    Out indefinitely | out

    Boyd has yet to play this season due to a foot injury, and there is currently no timetable for his debut.

  • Tim Kidd-Glass

    Undisclosed
    Out indefinitely | out

    Kidd-Glass is out of commission due to an unspecified injury, and he will miss an undetermined length of time.

  • Bryce Mathews

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Mathews sat out the previous three games with an injury to an unlisted area, and it has yet to be established if he will be available Saturday against Southern Miss.