0 Comments Published on 9.13.2016 by John Brennan
|We saw a lot of this on Friday night.|
Any sane person knew that Syracuse had little to no chance of beating Louisville in the Dome last Friday night. And we all knew it would be a high scoring affair, at least based on the offensive performances of each team the previous week. But who among us saw a 62-28 drubbing as a realistic possibility? Well, probably people smarter than me. But that's what the Cardinals did to the Orange. Let's pass some judgment on Syracuse.
Clearly, the Week One matchup against Colgate overinflated our view of the Syracuse offense. Are they a pretty decent squad? Yeah, sure. But going up against some actual talent exposed some flaws. It was very promising to see Syracuse when it had momentum moving the ball in the hurry-up no-huddle. Unfortunately we only saw that a few times, and even then momentum would be stalled by a Louisville injury or cramp. More on that below. But at any rate, QB Eric Dungey was a more down-to-earth 25 of 51 for 255 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Many receivers got in on the action again -- this time around eight -- with Amba Etta-Tawo leading the way with eight receptions for 103 yards and two TDs. Steve Ishmael caught four, but you could feel the tension in the Dome that the fans wanted to see him more. The ground game had varying degrees of success, but I felt the coaches called the "run up the middle" play way too much. Is there something cemented into the playbook that every coaching administration must run up the middle?
This probably should be an F, but I can't make scapegoats out of a defensive unit that doesn't have the talent (or enough time) in Dino Babers' system. When you give up 62 points, you can't be proud of your performance. When you give up 30 first downs, 414 net rushing yards, 431 passing yards, (for a total of 845), and just can't seem to figure out how to defend what's being thrown (or run) at you, you're not gonna have a good time. But even putting all that aside, I think even a good or a great defense would have had trouble with this Louisville offense. Lamar Jackson is a beast on the field, and with so many options on how to run an offensive attack, you almost need an additional 11 defenders just to be able to defend anything that could happen. So, this was a bad defensive performance, but even David couldn't have beaten this Goliath.
With the Syracuse offense stalling so much, the punting game was needed to keep the Orange respectable in field position. Sterling Hofrichter didn't disappoint: 11 punts for 489 yards, which included a long of 61 yards, three inside the 20, and a touchback. Five of the eleven traveled more than 50 yards. Unfortunately, Cole Murphy wasn't as successful in his one field goal attempt at the end of the first half, missing from 55 yards as time expired. Quite frankly, the offense should have just attempted a TD there -- would have put the Orange within seven points at the half. Oh well, that's on coaching...
Demerits here are for the previously mentioned FG attempt at the half, for the excessive running up the middle, and for just totally being mismatched against a superior team. Obviously that last part isn't this coaching staff's fault, and you can only do so much with what you have. The coaches just need to find a way to get more out of these defenders. Otherwise, word will get out about how easy it is to exploit the defense, and Syracuse won't see the winning side of a football game the rest of the season.
Of course there was going to be drop-off from Week One, but, that was just really rough. It really sucks that the excitement we all felt after the Colgate game went away so quickly. And now, of course, the fan base feels hopeless, like the season is lost. But, as always, perspective is the key. Syracuse needs to face a true peer -- a program with similar talent who we can realistically compete with. USF much closer fits that bill, and with the game being in the Carrier Dome and it being Homecoming, Syracuse might just have a shot to showcase its abilities against a school on the same level.
Finally, much has been said about Louisville defenders cramping up at times inconvenient to the Syracuse no-huddle #OrangeIsTheNewFast offense. I was disappointed that the fans in attendance chose to boo these injuries; I thought we were better than that. Were the players faking it? If they were, it wasn't blatant (i.e. flopping). And I can attest how extremely hot and humid it was inside the Dome. But Babers and the Orange players brought good points -- why was it only happening to Louisville's defensive players, not their offense? Why was it not happening to Syracuse players? Was it conditioning? Was it improper hydration or lack of electrolytes? Or just flat out cheating? It's hard to tell, and we'll probably never know for sure. This is probably something we'll have to deal with all season. If Syracuse is good enough, then these things won't matter. That's the bottom line. But in the meantime, let's no boo opposing players who are down -- fake injury or not. We're better than that, Orange Nation.