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With the huge win over West Virginia only eight days prior, one would have thought that the Syracuse Orange would be riding that momentum into Louisville. But no. Syracuse played one of its worst games in recent memory, and lost to the Cardinals 27-10. The loss drops the Orange to 5-3 (1-2 in Big East play) and still one win away from bowl eligibility. It also keeps Head Coach Doug Marrone winless against Louisville. Let's break it down to see what went wrong (spoiler alert: everything).
The offense scored 10 points, but really only three since the touchdown was in garbage time with 1:31 remaining in the game. Ryan Nassib, the heart of this unit, was not good. While he completed 22 of 36 attempts (61%) for 162 yards and a touchdown, the passing game really had no positive impact on this game. There were several errant pass attempts which, had they been on target, would have extended drives, accounted for large gains, or even put points on the board. The ground game was just as bad: Antwon Bailey carried 15 times for 70 yards, and his only big play was a 29 yard run; the team only gained 84 yards total on the ground. The dominating offensive line from a week ago decided that was a fluke and went back to their old, ineffective ways. Nassib was either hurried, hit, or sacked nearly every pass attempt, and there were no gaps open for the runners. And while we're on the subject, "The Express" made its debut -- the Syracuse version of the Wildcat formation. I didn't even know this was still a thing? Was Marrone looking at tape from a few years ago and say "Hey, let's try that again!"? I don't necessarily hate it, but on a day when nothing was going right, it's hard to not scratch your head about that. I just can't give a passing grade to an offense which consistently found itself in unmanageable 3rd down situations and only converted three of its 14 attempts.
While the guys up front, led by Chandler Jones, were able to put some pressure on Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, it wasn't enough to significantly change his stats. This defense gave up 343 total yards (198 passing, 145 rushing). The Cardinals changed their gameplan from a hard-nosed running game to a more balanced attack. And Bridgewater was able to tear up the Syracuse secondary. Pass coverage just wasn't good. Not surprising, but you hate getting beat that way, especially when you know it's been a problem. While the defense did have the second and third quarters where it held Louisville scoreless, it started weak and ended weak. Fail.
Special Teams
The only passing grade goes to a unit that really had very little impact on the game. Ross Krautman hit a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter. Kickoffs are going farther, so that's good. But those are the only positive things to highlight. Syracuse rarely had good field position, while Louisville did. I'm putting a lot of that blame on special teams.
99 yards. That's what Syracuse gave Louisville due to 12 penalties. All penalties are stupid, but when several of them are personal fouls, that's inexcusable. Sure, it's the players, but ultimately it's the coach; the coach not having control over his team. I don't know what it is, because for these guys to basically act like punks out there is totally uncharacteristic of a Doug Marrone-led team. Unfortunately, Marrone wasn't able to make the halftime adjustments needed to improve the product on the field, and the final score reflects that.
F (0.18)
Waiting some 30 hours to do this report card didn't soften my anger and disappointment with what I saw out there on the field. It's a loss, and the whole team failed. Maybe we just expect so much more after the drubbing we saw against the Mountaineers. At any rate, if this is something that might rear its ugly head again this season, that might be the scariest thing you contemplate this Halloween weekend.
Pretty good crowd at Papa Johns Stadium. It was homecoming, a fact which was lost on the Big East Network's announcing crew, who were impressed by the Cardinals' alumni who were back in town to watch the game.
It was cold and, at times, windy. Do you reckon that affected the game play at all?
At one point the game was getting so difficult to watch that I thought about that Louisville cheerleading scandal from a few years ago. Not sure what I'm talking about? Google Rebecca Manns.
This officiating crew was the same crew from the Toledo game. They made it their mission to screw Syracuse every chance they had. I'm not saying the penalties weren't earned, but you don't think the Zebras had that missed extra point in the back of their minds?
While the Orangemen fell short of clinching a bowl berth in October, this sets up a pretty interesting storyline heading into the November 5 matchup in East Hartford against former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni and his UConn Huskies. It would be real nice to clinch against him. As a side note, Brian and I will be at Rentschler Field for that game, just as we were at Rutgers last year when Syracuse became bowl eligible. Must be fate.


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