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There was less smiling after the game started.
Syracuse was facing a tough task heading to Northwestern, a ranked team. While I thought the game could possibly be close, I thought Syracuse was not going to pull any miracle moves. But I had no idea the team would look as bad as they did in the first half. Penalties, mental mistakes, and failing to execute were only part of the story. To the report card.
Offense
D
Drew Allen (27/41, 279yds, 1 TD, 4 INT) did not have a good day to say the least. There were probably six or seven passes that were batted near the line that he threw, and a couple of those picks were thrown RIGHT AT D lineman. The run game in the first half has never really got going and only marginally improved in the second half. The only encouraging pieces of the offense were the receivers, but only they could do so much when most of the balls thrown were to players in purple jerseys.
Defense
D
The defense did very little so stop the run power of QB Kain Colter or the throwing arm of QB Trevor Siemian. Both did well on the day, combining for 4 throwing TDs and 1 rushing TD, as well as a combined 30/37. The secondary looked bewildered in the first half, and didn't improve that much in the second. With the exception of a few series, it seemed like Northwestern was finding their way in the end zone early and often. When the QB is the leading rusher for the other team you feel encouraged that traditional run defense in the box is working, but then you remember who cares when the QB is torching you with his legs. Someone want to spy this guy?
Special Teams
C
Nothing spectacular but nothing too disappointing. Except for a couple blatantly shanked punts, and a missed XP right off the post. The missed XP hurt even more as it was the first drive in the second half, one that scores a TD, and you cap it off by botching the virtually automatic point to make it a respectable 14 point game for your team. Instead, it was 13. And you're reminded the rest of the game what happened. The return men looked good, except for the puzzling decision to run the ball out of the end zone on a kick that was 5 yards deep in. The team returned it only to the 24, but there was a holding penalty called so they started at the 7. Not good.
Coaching
C+
A lot of the frustraton on the field was from poor execution and a lot of interceptions. But play calling was an issue. On a 3rd and 9 a run up the middle was called. There was a false start before that, and the play probably wasn't changed, but you need to when that kind of penalty happens. Another coaching mistake. Additionally, there were a lot of false starts and dumb penalties early in this game. That, at least partly, falls on coaches not getting the team prepared enough for the road environment. But you have to like the second half adjustments made. The team marched down the field on their first drive out of the locker room. That shows promise for the coaching abilites.
GPA
C- (1.58)
All in all, in a game where the team was outmatched and was expected to lose, a poor showing. Syracuse should have looked sharper and performed better, especially in the first half. It appeared, whether true or not, that the team had actually regressed from week 1 to week 2, something that should never happen. Syracuse did not impress in this one.

So there you have it. Syracuse just had one of those games where nothing much seemed to go right. You'll get those games against ranked opponents on occasion, but to look as flat as Syracuse did in a decent chunk of this game was tough to watch for even casual fans. But Syracuse will have a chance to bounce back as FCS Wagner heads into the Carrier Dome this Saturday. If we lose that one... well, let's not think about that.

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