A Homecoming of sorts? Same as it ever was.
There are basically two kinds of people in the Syracuse world right now. The first is the syracuse.com message board poster, the guy who says that the four wins were flukes and the team sucks and won't win another game the rest of the season. The other is the eternal optimist, who thinks the loss to Pitt was just the team having a bad day, and that the team will march into Morgantown this Saturday and beat up on the Mountaineers. So of course, I have to make a third category since I'm not an extremist.
Fact is, while this team does have some talent and surely has a lot of potential, they just flat out played horribly on Saturday, losing to Pittsburgh 45-14. There's not a specific unit to blame for this one; it truly was a team effort. However, for purposes of why you read my rant each Monday morning, I'll focus on the offense, specifically the quarterback.
Ryan Nassib, starting the sixth game of his college career, did not play well. After having a "meh" game against South Florida, he may have regressed. On the day against Pitt, he completed 25 passes on 46 attempts (54%) for 231 yards, a touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Take the INTs out of it and it looks like a decent game. But it wasn't. Nassib really only had one great pass the entire game, a shot down the field on Syracuse's second drive of the game, responding to Pitt's score. The 41-yard bomb to Alec Lemon eventually set up a 1-yard dive by Delone Carter to tie the game at 7. That's as close as Syracuse would get in this one.
Even in garbage time in the 4th quarter, Ryan Nassib was not impressive. Throughout the game, he was overthrowing receivers, sometimes throwing at their feet, or just plain not accurate enough for these guys to catch. It was frustrating, because we've seen just how accurate Nassib had been in the first four games this season, and then for him to phone it in last week and then just plain not show up this week... ugh. He's in a funk, as everyone else is saying. I'd rather not steal words, but I'm too lazy right now to look up "funk" synonyms, so we'll stick with funk.
Unfortunately, it's not like Syracuse has another Maine or Colgate to rebound with next week like they did after they lost to Washington. Syracuse travels this week to Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers are pretty clearly the best team in the Big East this season. In a league where anything could happen to anybody, they've done a good job of keeping their noses relatively clean. Add to that the fact that West Virginia is always a tough place to play at and, well, I don't like the outlook for Syracuse. Ryan Nassib will need to find a way out of his funk if Syracuse will even make this a close game. I don't know what the answer is. I know he has the skill and the talent, so maybe this is a mental thing. If so, I'm sure Head Coach Doug Marrone has some choice motivational words for Ryan.
In the meantime, we're all back down to reality and can realize that this team still only has to go .500 over these remaining six games to make it to a bowl game. That's something that I, as a member of that new third kind of person in the Syracuse world, can believe.