A quick take on Syracuse’s 17-10 loss against Minnesota:
WHAT HAPPENED: Minnesota’s defense stifled Syracuse and Gophers running back Donnell Kirkwood rushed for a pair of touchdowns as Minnesota improved to 4-0. The high octane SU offense was anything but, as it could muster only 350 total yards. For those of you who didn’t watch the game, the final score didn’t truly reflect the Gophers’ dominance. Minnesota was in control for most of the night and Syracuse’s lone touchdown came with 46 seconds left. In each game this season, SU has trailed at intermission. The difference tonight was, Syracuse couldn’t do any better in the second half.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse, which came into the game 3rd in the NCAA in passing yards at 379.7 a game couldn’t do much against a staunch Minnesota defense. SU ended up with just 228 passing yards on the game, losing their fourth in a row to a Big 10 foe. But much of the damage was self inflicted. The Orange had four turnovers, including one in the red zone and was penalized all night long on 10 penalties for 79 yards. It was a sloppy, undisciplined performance for a team that dropped to 1-3 on the season.
HERO: Max Shortell, starting in place of the injured MarQueis Gray, managed the game well in front of a sold out crowd of 50,085 and finished 16-30 for 231 yards. Alec Lemon became the all time receptions leader in Syracuse history with 9 receptions for 106 yards. But the real game ball went to Minnesota’s defense, which helped the Gophers to a 33-26 advantage on time of possession and allowed SU just four 3rd down conversions out of 13 tries.
ZERO: Plenty to go around for Syracuse, but the absence of Marcus Sales was conspicuous. Sales, who came into the game with at least 100 receiving yards in the first three games of the season was well defended, and didn’t register a catch until late in the fourth quarter and finished with two catches for 32 yards. He did end up with SU’s only touchdown of the game. Offensive lineman Lou Alexander, who has been playing in place of the Justin Pugh, had a rough night, with a couple of penalties and sacks assessed to him. For the Gophers, kicker Jordan Wettstein missed a pair of field goals in the first half.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse opens its conference schedule when it heads home to play the Pittsburgh Panthers on Oct. 5 at the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m.Wesley Cheng