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You'd think that coming off a tight win over Pitt last week that Syracuse would come out to New Jersey with some confidence, some momentum, and make a game of it against Rutgers. Well, maybe you wouldn't think that. Maybe I shouldn't have thought that. Syracuse goes to the home of college football and loses to Rutgers, 23-15.
With a C- here, I actually think I'm being gracious. At the helm, Ryan Nassib went 25/42 (60%) for 356 yards and a touchdown. But he threw two interceptions. He was continually hurried, as the O-line couldn't hold a tune. What really struck me is how Nassib has seemingly regressed from an intelligence standpoint. The once confident-in-the-pocket QB became the panicky-type, taking sacks when he could have thrown the ball away, throwing into coverage, taking run opportunities when he shouldn't and not running when he should. You know, that QB we saw in the first couple games that had the highest QB rating in the country. Elsewhere, props to Marcus Sales for catching four passes for 100 yards. But, only four catches. This blog will continue to harp on Sales' lack of involvement in the playbook unless and until he's more involved.
It was either a pretty good defensive effort from the Orange, or just Rutgers' ineptitude on offense, (or both), that kept this game relatively close through the 4th quarter, making us wonder if maybe, just maybe, Syracuse had a last minute shot in this one. While the defense held Rutgers to only 12 first downs on 237 total yards, they couldn't create any turnovers. I think turnovers were the deciding factor in this game, so I have to dock the defense some points for not creating any. Otherwise, a good, solid effort.
Special Teams
This was tough to grade because the Special Teams unit was great in some aspects and bad in others. First, the good: Steve Rene did a decent job of returning kickoffs, averaging 25 yards each on the four he fielded. Obviously nothing special, but decent enough. Jonathan Fisher punted well: four kicks for 169 yards, pinning two inside the 20. Now, the bad: Steve Rene had nothing going on punt returns. More awful, though, was Ross Krautman on field goals: as in, none. One was short & wide, while the other was blocked (likely because it was kicked low). Hopefully Marrone's changes for the UConn game will counteract the poor grade here.
While my gut tells me to go lower (you know, because of Doug Marrone's "it's on me" thing) so much of why Syracuse lost this game falls on execution. And that's not on Dog Marrone. Early 80s? Yeah, put execution on Doug Marrone. But not in 2012. We can harp on play calls, we can harp on player discipline, we can harp on penalties (Syracuse had 7 for 44 yards). But I think unless we're sitting at each and every practice to see exactly how Marrone prepares these players, we can't blame the on-field execution (or lack thereof) on him. I hope it's not just that he's maxing out the talent here, but if it is, then we have what we have.
C (2.1)
This was a game that Syracuse could have won, maybe should have won, but didn't. Certain aspects of the game worked, but the vital ones didn't. It's a bit unfortunate that the final GPA comes out to passing, because it should really be a D. Still, the Orange were in this through the 4th quarter. Had it not been for a few ill-timed turnovers, we may have seen a different outcome.
Syracuse returns home to the friendly confines of a Friday Night Carrier Dome game. Also returning to the Dome will be Paul Pasqualoni and his UConn Huskies. We hate UConn, and we hate what Coach P turned this program into in his final years. There will be lots of emotions from the Orange faithful, but probably more negative than anything. I'll applaud P at the intros, then turn on the hate in full force. Look for Brian's complete pregame predictions in a few hours.

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