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Andrew, just go out there and throw it around.
I used to rule the world.
Seas would rise when I gave the word.
Now in the morning I sleep alone,
Sweep the streets I used to own.
~Viva La Vida by Coldplay
11/24/2007. That was the last game the Syracuse football team played. It has now been just over nine months since that last exercise in football futility. That is time enough for life to be brought into this world. It was not enough time for the Syracuse football team to become improved enough to matter in the win/loss columns. Northwestern proved me wrong, and most of America right. Syracuse lost the game 30 to ten, but that is not the worst part. The worst part is that we are clearly in for another terrible season. It is so unfair to be so excited for college football to come back, only to have that last for about three days because of the way your team plays. I mean christ, even Bowling Green beat a ranked team, yet Syracuse cannot even beat the dregs of the Big (11) Ten. That means it is time to head back to the report card for the year’s first grades.

Offense
D+
The offense actually started out well. Syracuse managed to sustain their first drive to put there in field goal range, where Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle kicked a field goal to put Syracuse up 3-0 (He can no longer be given the nickname “Fat Ass” because he has slimmed down, but he has made an unfortunate choice in facial hair for his official department photo, therefore this will be his new nickname this year. Jump on board. H/T to JBren. Also, as Ben said “I want to know whatever the Pat Shadle diet is and get on it.”). After that drive, there was an exercise in futility. Andrew Robinson had a terrible day (14/28, 103yds, 0TD, 1INT) as he continually overthrew balls. He also let the team get a safety by throwing the ball away while in the end zone (Read: I can’t believe he got a fucking safety. A SAFTEY?!?). He also threw his interception for a Northwestern touchdown. He threw to the receiver’s inside shoulder where a defender was cutting across, rather than to his outside shoulder away from the defender or over the top. This is an execution mistake that should not be happening at this point in his career at Syracuse. The second half of the game was terrible as Syracuse could not get anything going or gain any momentum. Drives continually stalled and it looked like vintage pathetic Syracuse. The one bright spot was the return of a running game that actually gained some yardage. Between RB’s Curtis Brinkley, Delone Carter, and Doug Hogue they managed to gain 117 rushing yards, which is a vast improvement over last season. Due to this, several play action plays resulted in big gains and first downs in the first half. While the offensive line was not stellar, you could see improvement from last season, which was slightly refreshing. Only converting three third down opportunities was par for the course compared to last year however. Due to ARob’s bad day, and the futility in the second half however, that results in a D+ for the offense, the unit that needed to improve more to be able to put points on the board.

Defense
C+
The defense actually was not that bad. I know that sounds somewhat crazy considering the outcome, but honestly they did well. LB Derrell Smith had an interception, there was a forced fumble, a fumble recovery inside the ten, and several other strong plays. However, they left between the numbers open quite a bit for big pass plays including two touchdowns in which no Syracuse player was even near a Northwestern receiver. The defensive guru strikes again. Similarly with the offense, there was visible improvement on defense but not enough to change the outcome. Because of some great plays and points off turnovers, I cannot in good conscience give them a terrible grade though.

Special Teams
C
The punter was phenomenal, pinning the team behind the ten for many drives in the first half. Yup, I am talking about Northwestern’s punter. Our punter was not bad, however he was not spectacular. Rob Long punted seven times for a total of 330yds, having two behind the 20 and the longest being 72yds. The players made a great effort to keep a few out of the end zone for a touchback but could not. The punter however did get a 30 yard (ridiculously punitive) penalty for the punt after the safety. Just great. Max Suter was not as spectacular as he was last year. The magic seems to be worn off. He did fine, but nothing spectacular. Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle (yes it does not flow as well, but it is hilarious to me) had a fine day, earning a 36 yard field goal, and an extra point. He also just missed a 51 yard attempt by hitting the post. He did have the distance though and I was impressed with the attempt. Overall not a bad day but not a great day.

Coaching
D
Why, when you are losing by two scores or more, with less than fine minutes in the forth quarter, would you ever punt the ball away? Answer: you shouldn’t. No, at the very least you go for it to see what your team is made of. If they can handle that situation and get a first down when they need to and the game is on the line, that is a good thing to find out. Greg Robinson elected to punt. Also, why did Syracuse not try for some longer passes? It seemed like all they could ever do go for the receiver 4 yards past the line of scrimmage, even when it was 3rd and 20. Also, it gets a little predictable when you run on every first down. Some play action or even just starting in a shotgun formation once in a while would probably not be as predictable. I guess these things make too much sense.

GPA
C- (1.63)
Yes, all the above observations are true. But the main issue I see with this team, which was present last year but did not seem to get addressed in the off season, was the conditioning of the team. In the first half the team looked crisp, focused, and high energy. The second half the team clearly looked flat and unmotivated. This is a major issue because I think we all know that the defense will be on the field a lot, and they need to at least finish the game even when they are tired. But, at the end of the day, this loss has to fall on Andrew Robinson’s bad day and his mistakes. They team could not sustain any scoring drives in the second half. The team needed to come out with a vastly improved offense and it was only marginally improved. I hope the team can grow as the season does, but it appears that it will be another year of some rough football to watch as the start of the year was not a good outing for the Orange.

You may have noticed the song lyrics above. A new componant of the football postgame reactions will be some lyrics that best sum up the current situation. In this case, the lines form the opening to Viva La Vida perfectly sum up the Syracuse legacy. Once proud, this program is now in shambles. It is a sad commentary on the current situation. Syracuse will have their hope opener next Saturday at 3:30pm versus Akron. At least it is a perfect tailgate start. Syracuse will look to build on their successes and limit their mistakes. Hopefully ARob will also get his head in the game and be more focused and come out mistake free in front of the home fans. As always, stay tuned for more game coverage right here at Orange::44 and I hope you enjoyed that Northwestern game with a cold beer and a bitter heart.

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6 Responses to “Syracuse - Northwestern Postgame Reactions OR Back And... Well They're Back”

  1. # Anonymous McLeavey

    I love how Pam Ward felt compelled to keep mentioning that Andrew Robinson had the best ever sophomore season for a Syracuse QB. Like this matters or translated into wins.

    I will take DNabb's sophomore season stats with a 9-3 record any day of the week.  

  2. # Blogger John

    Pretty good accuracy with the report card, but I disagree on a few choices you've made:
    - Coldplay's Livin' La Vida Loca lyrics
    - The (relative) high grades for the defense. You failed to mention a fundamental that this team is still struggling with: tackling. A lot of Northwestern's big yardage gains on 1st downs (6-8 yards) were the result of missed tackles. The stats for "yards after first contact" must be staggering.
    - "The punter" is named Rob Long. He caught some bad breaks with his punts bouncing the wrong way and into the end zone -- but he's got a hell of a leg on him and I think he'll be an asset to the team as the season goes on and we're forced to play the field position game instead of the scoring points game.  

  3. # Blogger Russianator

    When I think about how truly bad Greg Robinson is as a head coach, it makes my blood boil.  

  4. # Blogger DarylGrossIsSuperman

    I think the last time we had a Quarterback called for intentional grounding in the end zone it was Troy Nunes against Michigan in 1999. Just plain awful.  

  5. # Blogger Chaddogg

    Just a quick note from a Northwestern fan -- Northwestern is not, and HAS not for a long time, been the dregs of the Big Ten. That moniker goes to (depending on what frame of reference you're using) - Indiana, Minnesota, maybe Illinois (last year notwithstanding) or Michigan State.

    Still, good game by both sides (okay, good game by your defense, at least), with my admittedly preferred team winning. And you better believe we 'Cats fans will be rooting for you to win out the rest of the season....  

  6. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    Chaddogg,
    Hate to tell you brah, but rooting for us is like rooting for a ship that will never find port. Also, hate to tell you, but finishing just ahead of Minnesota for second to last place in the Big Ten does make you the dregs my friend. Don't think 6-6 is a victory.

    I appreciate your comment though and thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the game. It was a competitive first half at least.  

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