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The worst kinds of games are games that give you hope. This has been the main theme of Syracuse Football this season. The posters should have read “Syracuse Football 2008: Hope is a Dangerous Thing”. Syracuse tanks another game, despite the Three Idiots’ reporting. They lost to Rutgers 35 to 17.

Offense
D+
Save for an 82 yard run by Doug Hogue, a run mind you that was the longest run by an SU running back since 1953, the offense was abysmal. This was easily one of the worst offensive performances in the Greg Robinson era. Cantley, who granted got injured during the game, was not that effective (3/12, 19 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT). Andrew Robinson used to be good. However, he was the definition of awful this game (2/7, 16 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT). He failed to make a pass that a ten year old Pop Warner player would have easily made, on a pass route to the left by Curtis Brinkley. I begged for him to be put in the game, they gave him two series, and he turned in the worst offensive performance of the season for any quarterback in Division 1 I imagine. Curtis Brinkley was also a pretty big non-factor in the game, getting 18 carries earning 67 yards. He averaged 3.7 yards/carry and had a long run for 14 yards. Hogue just had the one carry, which earned him the only Syracuse offensive touchdown of the game. Either way, Syracuse only converting three of twelve on third down, earning only 7 first downs compared to Rutgers’ 27, and only gaining 168 total yards, is just atrocious.

Defense
C-
Syracuse allowed Rutgers to gain 483 yards of total offense. Mike Teel himself passed for 276 yards and three touchdowns. They also allowed 207 yards in rushing from the several personnel on Rutgers. If you watched the game, you saw that the tackling has not improved all season. When it takes four individuals to take down one wide receiver there are problems with your tackling. It is futile, much like their efforts on the field, to go over the many reasons why the defense was terrible. It will suffice to say that the same problems we have had all year were present, and Rutgers found a way to capitalize on them even after being down 14-0. There were some bright spots as Mike Holmes and Jake Flaherty each had an Interception on Teel. We even earned points off turnovers, which I feel is a novel statistic for the Orange. Either way, the defense overall was not good. There is a reason real teams practice tackling in practice instead of doing “Thud Drills”.

Special Teams
C
I was torn about this score. On the one hand, Syracuse blocked a punt and recovered it in the Rutgers End Zone for a touchdown. On the other hand, Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle missed not one, but three kicks at the end of the first half. He did however hit a 47 yard attempt in the third quarter to earn Syracuse’s only points of the second half. Max Suter and Mike Holmes combined on six kicks to return for 125 yards. However, these guys were hit hard by the kicking team for Rutgers. Rob Long punted seven times for 307 yards, two of which were inside the 20, so Long did his job competently. Either way, it was about a 50/50 day for the Special Teams, seeing high highs and low lows.

Coaching
D
Why would you not give the guy that just ran for 82 yards and a touchdown only that one carry? Why would you not then put in your stud running back either and let him try to run early and often? Why did Robinson look so unready if he was the starter of your team in the beginning of the year and the #1 backup to go in the game if something happens to your starter? Did he not get any repetitions this week at practice? These are questions that only Greg Robinson and his staff can answer and they certainly are not telling. Either way, it is very simple; you continue to do things that work and stop things that do not. Syracuse failed to do this in a single game. Early and often. I used to think Syracuse's problem was improper conditioning, but I think more accurately the problem is a failure to adjust at any point in a ball game. Every other team makes adjustments in coverage and offense at the half at the very least, sometimes during halves. Syracuse does none of it, and it is reflected in every opponent getting better during a game, and Syracuse always getting worse. This is no more evident in how much Syracuse is outscored in the second half all season.

GPA
D+ (1.35)
These games are all too common for Syracuse in the last few seasons. Syracuse does some brilliant stuff early in the game, only to have it negated by an amazing combination of stupidity, bad execution, and poor decision making by players and coaches alike. I do not know why I am ever fooled to think that Syracuse has a chance in games like this. Yet I always am. Shame on me. Syracuse falls to 2-7 and 1-4 in the Big East Conference. Syracuse also falls into even more irrelevance as the season progresses. There is only one fix for the fan base and the future of this program, yet the Athletic Department continues to deny what is so badly desired and needed in most opinions. Either way, I cannot be accused of grade inflation this week.

Syracuse will be in the Carrier Dome this weekend for the last home game of the season. Connecticut will travel from Storrs to Syracuse to play the team for just the fifth time. Syracuse is 2-2 lifetime against Connecticut, each team winning all their games at home. This is why it will be even more heartbreaking when Connecticut, arguably now a “rivalry game” in football, beats the Orange at home. History is on the side of Syracuse, who again has won both contests against UConn in the Dome, but we all know how nothing, not even history has helped this team out this season. The only other indicator we have is that Syracuse beat Louisville last year and this year, so maybe history will repeat itself and Syracuse will continue its winning ways versus the Huskies at home. I will be in the Dome in person in section 214, watching in either horror or celebration. The good news is the game starts at 7:00pm (seen on ESPN U), so that is plenty of time to tailgate and get to drunk to care that we lose, then promptly go down to Faegan’s after the game to drown even more sorrows. UConn’t possibly drink more than me if we end up losing to Connecticut.

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