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It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win.
Apparently it had been forever (in terms of college football years) since Syracuse beat an ACC opponent. I guess that makes sense. But history was rewritten last Thursday when Syracuse took a talented Wake Forest team back from a defeat to overtime to a win. The fact that they won is a sheer statistical anomaly as Wake out-gained or out-defended the Orange massively. The Orange pick up their first win of 2011, but more importantly, they show that 2010 wasn't quite as big a fluke as people thought. They beat the Demon Deacons in overtime 36 to 29.
Offense
C+
The offense for about three quarters was absolutely dreadful and the model of inefficiency. They gained five positive yards on offense in the first quarter. The good news is that Ryan Nassib (20/28, 178yds, 3 TD, 0 INT) did not turn the ball over and would have done even better if there were not a few terrible drops in the first half. He did manage the game well and did not overthrow or underthrow the ball. Antwon Bailey (25car, 114yds, 4.6avg, 2 TD) also played well, earning over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but ball security is a small issue with him. Either way, Syracuse's offense was dreadful the first three or so quarters, and pretty efficient the last and in overtime. 3-11 on third downs and 299 total yards isn't going to impress anyone however. Certainly not this grader.
Defense
C-
For years the way to beat Syracuse was to pass the ball. With only 80 rushing yards against Syracuse, the defensive front did their job in stopping the run. But with 406 yards of total offense, you can do the math on that one. The secondary was simply bad. Phillip Thomas and Keon Lyn were particularly dreadful in this affair. Lyn even managed to get play calls wrong, clearly vacating areas he was assigned to either by mistake or by intelligently designed offensive plays. Either way bad. No one likes to see players injured, but it was a good thing Chandler Jones rolled over QB Tanner Price's leg. That gave Ted Stachitas the ball and he was far less effective than Price. Either of them might have scored a touchdown on that final drive though. Syracuse's only truly great plays were in the overtime period. Otherwise it was almost an air raid.
Special Teams
B-
Sadly Ross Krautman's streak of 16 made field goals ended. A bad snap ensured that. Shane Raupers also punted fairly well. Coverage was adequate. Not much to report here. I guess it's a good thing Krautman missed that field goal though, as Wake played for the tie instead of the win which meant they were not too motivated to move the ball down the field like they probably could have.
Coaching
C
Nothing too special. Conservative, conservative, conservative. Not surprising. No real long ball shots either except for one. And really, the play calling was not the key to success on the field. It was players making plays. Clearly you have to come out in a football game better. They basically took two to three quarters to warm up. I'm sure the coaches did what they could to fire them up, but needless to say they came out flat. Strength and conditioning was important in this game and it ended up they were ready to play the entire game which was good. But overall a passable day.
GPA
C+ (2.175)
Syracuse got the win, and came back from a multiple score deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but Syracuse should have played better. Syracuse failed to move the ball early, and the defense presented some serious issues that need to be addressed. Syracuse luckily has a big confidence boosting 1-AA game next week, and a win is a win, but it is hard to look so rosey at this kind of a performance overall.
Intangibles
A to the crowd that started the game with Syracuse. The students surrounded the corner and the end zone and the energy was high, the crowd was loud, and the game was fun.
F to the students and fans that left, especially at half time. Next time please just stay home. You are the kind of fans that should be watching from a couch and will not do anything in the Dome to help "your" team.
A to the fans that stayed. Not only did you see a great ball game, but everyone was standing on the final drives and the entire overtime. The energy in the Dome was high and it was just as loud as the start of the game. Great job by everyone.
Syracuse next takes on 1-AA (FCS) Rhode Island this Saturday at 4:30pm on Time Warner Cable Sports. Sadly the locals will probably mostly watch this one on TV despite having a great chance to see a big win. This should be a snoozer in a good way. Until then, the secondary needs to watch some film like three days ago.

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