0 Comments Published on 12.01.2013 by John Brennan
|Because of this, the Orange live to play another game in 2013|
At 5-6, Syracuse was in the proverbial "win-or-go-home" situation. Lose, and you finish at 5-7 and no bowl game. Win, and you're 6-6, bowl eligible, get some extra practices, and get a nice bowl trip out of it. Not to mention, the Scott Shafer Era and ACC Era would be judged on how they started, and a losing record wouldn't be acceptable. Syracuse rose to the occasion against Boston College on Saturday, leading for much of the game but giving up the lead in the third quarter and having to battle back. The drama, of course, came on a Syracuse drive starting at the its own 25 yard line with 2:08 left to go in the game, with the score BC 31, SU 27.Orange QB Terrel Hunt, cool and collected, and almost without any sense of urgency, marched his offense down the field and scored a touchdown on a beautifully executed pass to Josh Parris with six seconds left. That would prove to seal it for the Orange, who won 34-31.
This may have been the best all-around offensive game for the Orange all season. 480 total yards - 270 through the air, 210 on the ground. Leading the charge was Hunt, who arguably played the best game of his young career: 29 completions on 43 attempts (67%) for 270 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 90 net yards rushing including a touchdown of his own. With so many key injuries, offensive coordinator George McDonald was forced to change up his game plan from last week, which resulted in a heavier reliance on the passing game and for Hunt himself to run the ball more. While some of those rushes were reads, it was clear a good number of them were designed rushes -- and they worked. Hunt was able to spread the ball around to ten different receivers -- but to be fair, one of them was himself, as he foolishly caught a tipped pass for a loss of 16 yards. He made up for it the next play on a long completion, though. One of my biggest complaints about the offense is its continued under-utilization of Ashton Broyld.
The focus of the Boston College offense is RB Andre Williams, who came into this game a potential Heisman candidate. Though he was limited by injury for much of the game, the Syracuse defense mostly held him in check before he got hurt. Williams was stuffed in the backfield several times, and if it weren't for the long touchdown run he had, his stats would have been completely pathetic. So, major props to the Syracuse D for stepping up big against big competition. BC quarterback Chase Rettig did his best to slice up the Syracuse secondary, but in the end only passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Just another solid game for this defense, which is what we come to expect these days.
Conventional wisdom is to dog pile on Ryan Norton. On the plus side, he successfully hit all his point after attempts and two field goal attempts; on the minus side, he missed a field goal attempt early in the first, sent a kickoff out of bounds, and routinely purposely kicked the ball short. I didn't quite understand that logic, because it seems like it really gave up some good field position. Interesting stat: Syracuse only punted twice; Riley Dixon kicked for 97 yards, including a booming 52 yarder.
As I mentioned earlier, George McDonald called a much better game on the offensive side of the ball than he did last week. Except for the predictable run up the middle on first down, and the option making its way back onto the field a couple times, many of the play calls were spot on. With the confidence that this injury-plagued squad gained in this win, hopefully this gives the coaches the drive to really open up the playbook during these extra practices in preparation of a bowl game. I challenge them to use Ashton Broyld more -- he's a playmaker who can catch the ball, run with the ball -- and even throw the ball (remember, he was recruited as a QB!). We have the ability to see some stunning plays at the end of December if the coaches can make the best out of the personnel they have.
Syracuse played a good game. BC did not, for much of the game. Syracuse did its best to capitalize on BC's ineptness, but some early miscues kept this game a lot closer than it should have been; Syracuse had the opportunity to score at least 10 points, yet failed to hit the field goal and score a touchdown. But the Orange led for a great portion of the game, and when it mattered during the two-minute drill, Syracuse was able to make things happen and pull ahead for the win.
What a great way to win for the seniors on Senior Day. While the Eagles aren't cream of the crop ACC, they were an already bowl eligible team at 7-4 heading into this game, and was favored to win. Give credit to the Syracuse fans who showed up for this game, kept energy high and allowed the team to feed off that enthusiasm. While a good number of those in attendance participated in the wave DURING THE GAME WHILE SYRACUSE HAD THE BALL, Syracuse was forced to punt and shortly thereafter gave up the lead. Many of those wave-promoting fans left the game early, so karma didn't allow them to see the awesome end to the game.
Syracuse now waits around until the bowl matchups are announced next week, likely on Sunday, December 8. The Orange became the 11th bowl eligible team from the ACC, so they might not even end up in an ACC bowl, so stay tuned on what craziness might happen with bowl selections.