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I looked like this staring at my TV for most of the game.
If you had asked me Friday morning if I thought Syracuse would be in a 2 OT game against FCS Villanova I would have said you were insane. I would have thought the same if you said Terrel Hunt would be ejected for throwing a punch. But because the starting QB was ejected, it made the 2 OT a little more plausible. What a way to open the season. To the first report card of the 2014 season.
Offense
D
Granted, the starting quarterback was out for more than half of the game. But looking at the team as a whole, they earned the D against an FCS defense. They were 5-14 on third downs and only earned 21 first downs. They only earned 320 total yards and needed a fake field goal from the special teams unit to get a touchdown when they couldn't punch it in several times within five yards of the goal line. Hunt got tossed and was only remarkable in a couple designed running plays. Austin Wilson was a serviceable backup. He did well enough to have Twitter freak out for a second there's a QB controversy. There isn't, but he was good. He didn't set the world on fire passing the ball. PTG had a solid day with 100 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Adonis Ameen-Moore didn't have as good of a day, but still ended up with a touchdown. However he needed to power through to the goal line when he did not. Overall, a poor showing to start the season and against an FCS school.
Defense
C
Syracuse allowed 25 first downs, 12-20 third down conversions, 389 yards, and most telling was allowing the quarterback to rush for 112 yards. That might be more coaching decisions, but either way, you have to make tackles and not allow them to break them and get more yards after contact. A poor showing, but they played better than the offense at least.
Special Teams
C
The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Syracuse earned a TD in the 2nd OT by faking a field goal and throwing for a touchdown from the punter / holder. Earlier Poppy Livers ran 67 yards for a TD on a punt return. Ryan Norton was 3/3 on field goals, with the longest of 38 yards. He was also a perfect 2/2 on XP as well. Coverage on the punt was a joke. Coverage on kickoffs were pretty good. The grade ends up right in the middle.
Coaching
C
The offensive play calling was fine. But the defensive play calling was bad and didn't improve. With this mobile of a QB perhaps spying would have been a good thought. Additionally, why were the secondary players giving such cushions to the Villanova receivers? It didn't make sense. Villanova only managed to not move the ball when they tried stupidly running it using their running back or a receiver dropped a pass. Sometimes the receivers are going to run perfect routes and QBs will throw perfect passes so it will be complete, but more often than not, the coverage was blown. Some of that is on the players, and the coaches take some blame for not calling plays that set them up for success. That needed to happen but didn't.
GPA
C- (1.75)
That was a rough first outing that was a missed chip shot by an FCS kicker away from starting the season off in the worst way (and about 13 years of ridicule to boot). Syracuse is lucky they escaped. All credit to Villanova who played a great game and just came up short. Not a way to start a season, but a win is a win as they say.
Syracuse now has a week off to #BeatTheBye. And hopefully improve on both sides of the ball as the next game is on the road. Hunt needs to lock it down and not let the game get out of hand again. Because if that wasn't against FCS Villanova, that was probably going to be a loss.

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