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Guys! Hold onto the damn ball!

Syracuse was downright owned in their last two games. Therefore, it was all the more critical that Syracuse put a good foot forward and perform well against a lesser team in the Carrier Dome. They did so. Although frustrating at several points, Syracuse pulls out a win and avenges a loss to Akron last year 28 to 14.

As I predicted, Delone Carter did have a season high. What I did not predict would be his career high day. He finished with 30 carries, 170 yards, 5.7ypc, and three touchdowns. Greg Paulus (12/17, 105yds, 1 TD, 0 INT) had a good game. Not a great game, but a good game. He did what he needed to do. But he could have played better. With Mike Williams out, someone needed to step up, and that person was Marcus Sales. He finished with six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Not as dynamic of a receiver, he did what was asked of him, and played well. Syracuse earned 339 total yards on the day, including a season high of 234 rushing yards. They also gained 20 first downs. Ball security is still an issue as well. What is really troubling was only converting 2-9 on third down conversions. Syracuse still has trouble converting on third downs and that will be the downfall of this offensive unit until it is somehow corrected. 2-9 against Akron spells certain doom against the cream of the Big East crop.

Akron had 0 rush yards on the day. We knew Syracuse’s rush defense was solid, but this just proves it. The defense also caused two turnovers. They pressured the quarterback, and on several third down attempts, sacked the quarterback. Syracuse also limited Akron to only 1-11 on third down conversions. Also, in reality, they only allowed seven points in this game. The defense looked good, but as I said at the time we were only playing Akron after all. But in grading them on their performance, it was an excellent day. They earn their highest grade of the season.

Special Teams
The pride of the team a year ago has because a unit that disappoints. Special Teams gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown. Ryan LICHTENSTEIN also missed a 39 yard field goal attempt. He was then benched in the second half. Syracuse also allowed great field position on several of Akron’s kick and punt returns. Rob Long had a good day punting, doing it three times for 109 yards, all behind the 20. LICHTENSTEIN also punted once on a fake field goal (which everyone spotted a mile away, but hey it worked) and it was pinned at the one. While there were some good things that happened, mostly Special Teams disappointed on the day.

I think the one problem I have discovered about Doug Marrone is he is just too conservative a football coach for my taste. Now there is no way I think we should go for it on fourth down on our own 27 yard line, but when you have rushed well all day and it is fourth and inches in opposing territory, why would you not go for it? The “draw you offside play” never works in college and Syracuse tried it and then went and punted after a time out. Later on, on a fourth and long, Syracuse opts to run the ball, ala the Coach P era of “run, run, pass, punt” ball. With Mike Williams out, and a holy defense, Syracuse needed to run the ball all day and should have. But on a third and long you should pass the ball to try and convert, not run a QB keeper. Overall, a vanilla and generally unimpressive day from the coaching staff.

C+ (2.28)
This was a win, and overall the team played well against Akron (as they should have), but we should have played better in several areas. Although this was a suspension Saturday, Syracuse missed a lot of opportunities to put this game away early and failed to. The team played well enough to win this game though, so they escape with a victory and an adequate grade. But this just goes to show the grading works. They did not deserve a big grade in this one because of all the mistakes and inadequacies. They merely squeak by for another week, biding their time for Cincinnati.

Syracuse now focuses on the best of the conference, Cincinnati, coming in on Halloween. For now though, Syracuse earns another win and brings them closer to a reputable season. Currently Syracuse has the same number of wins as last season. With five games remaining there is plenty of chance to do more with less, and yes even a bowl is possible. Crazy, right?


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