Syracuse may have eventually pulled away for a 28-17 win over Stony Brook on Saturday, but it definitely wasn’t pretty or easy for the Orange.
Part of the ugliness came from a pair of missed field goals and two turnovers in the red zone on fourth down. Had the Orange scored on those four plays, they would’ve tacked on an extra 20 points.
Instead, it was a struggle against an FCS opponent.
“I was very surprised,” running back Prince-Tyson Gulley said of the close score. “They came ready today.”
With the Orange clinging to a 21-17 lead in the second half, SU had two opportunities to punch the ball in inside the SBU 5 yard line. Each time, Stony Brook dug in.
The first time, Nassib fired incomplete to Jarrod West on fourth down (the exact same play they ran on third down) midway through the third quarter with the ball at the Stony Brook 4.
In the fourth quarter, Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley couldn’t punch it in from 3 yards out on four consecutive plays, leaving Stony Brook with yet another opportunity to take the lead.
“Our defense faces the run game every day in practice and they face pretty good ones,” Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said. “We’re tough. We played well. They didn’t get fancy and we didn’t get fancy. I guess we won that battle.”
Yes, they did, and that’s extremely concerning for Syracuse.
All due respect to Stony Brook, who played about as well as they could’ve played, but if Syracuse can’t move the ball a couple of feet against an FCS team, how well will they do against a Big 10 team (next weekend against Minnesota) or even a team in their own conference?
“We didn’t play like we should’ve in that situation,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. “We have to address that.”
Marrone will also have to address his kicking situation, as well.
Krautman, a beacon of consistency over his SU career, has been faulty so far this season. After missing just one his entire freshman year, he’s already missed three field goals, including a pair in the first half.
“I’m more concerned with him than I’ve been in the last three years,” Marrone said. “He’s missed three field goals and that’s unlike him.”
The pair of field goals adds up to six points, while the two fourth down stops could’ve lead to 14.
“I’ve talked about how we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Marrone said. “We have a long way to go.”
On Saturday, that road seemed to get even longer.
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