Syracuse struggled in every part of the game in its 27-10 loss to Louisville. Here’s how the Orange did on the field:
The Orange offense managed only three points through the first 58:29 of play. Ryan Nassib found the ground (4.0 sacks) more often than he found open receivers, especially in key third down situations. He continued to be afflicted with overthrowing-the-receiver syndrome and missed a wide-open Van Chew early in the first quarter, which would have tied the game at 7-7. The Orange offense made it inside the Louisville 35-yard line just twice the entire game, the second time courtesy of a roughing-the-passer call.
Antwon Bailey may have been the lone bright spot, not only rushing for 70 yards on 15 carries, but also providing several key blocks for Nassib in critical situations.
The wide receivers aren’t completely off the hook here. With Nick Provo neutralized for most of the game, Dorian Graham, Chew and Alec Lemon failed to get much separation from their defenders, managing just 76 yards receiving between them.
DEFENSE: C –
The Orange defense allowed 343 total yards of offense as Cardinals true freshman QB Teddy Bridgewater threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He had five touchdowns and six interceptions coming into Saturday’s match against the Orange.
On the game’s opening drive, Bridgewater found Michaelee Harris for 44 yards on what should have been a 92-yard touchdown. Fortunately, Harris was led out of bounds by the throw. However, one play later, Bridgewater connected with a wide-open DeVante Parker for a 42-yard score. This looked like the Orange defense that showed up against Tulane as opposed to the one that shut down West Virginia.
Despite the poor play, the defense kept the Orange in the game. After the Cardinals scored touchdowns on two of their first three drives, they didn’t score again until a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the most frustrating play for the defense came with just over 10 minutes to go and the game still manageable at 17-3. On 3rd and 8 Cardinals RB Victor Andersen eluded a tackle in the backfield and ran 61 yards for a touchdown.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B –
Well, the one consistent thing the Orange has is Ross Krautman. He had a nice game, connecting on a 34-yard field goal and adding an extra point late in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Fisher punted eight times for 321 yards. Yes, that’s right. Fisher had more yards punting than Syracuse had total yards of offense (246). Jeremiah Kobena chipped in 104 kickoff return yards.
The negative? The Orange didn’t have a single punt return and was called for costly penalties (six of the 12 flags against the Orange came on special teams).
Two moments stood out to me in this game from head coach Doug Marrone:
1) Talking all week about the possibility of a letdown after a huge win against then No. 11 West Virginia, the Orange won the toss on Saturday and deferred to the second half. Why not try to keep the momentum going? Especially on the road. You want the chance to strike first.
2) With two timeouts and just over :45 seconds to go in the first half, opting not to call a timeout and get the ball back. Instead, Louisville ran the clock down to :01 second before punting it away. This was a potential missed opportunity to put points on the board before getting the ball back to start the second half.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett needs to draw up better plays for Nassib on third downs. Three and four-yard passes to receivers or running backs, hoping they can pick up the additional yardage needed just isn’t working.
Penalties…penalties…penalties… Getting flagged 12 times for 99 yards is just unacceptable.