Piscataway, N.J. – It seemed as though almost four years of frustration came boiling to the top at that very moment.
Minutes before in a 7-7 game early in the third quarter against Rutgers Saturday afternoon, Ross Krautman’s 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked by leaping Scarlet Knights LB Jamal Merrell who came charging through the right side of the Orange offensive line.
The ball bounced towards the SU bench before being scooped up by RU’s Duron Harmon who promptly dashed 75-yards down the left sideline to turn what might have been a 10-7 SU lead, into a 14-7 Knights advantage, and for all intents and purposes took the fire out of an Orange effort to knock-off a top-20 ranked team in Rutgers (6-0/3-0) eventual 23-15 victory.
As the Orange offensive line sat in a group waiting to go back in following the media timeout after the score, Marrone, his face turning red with anger, flung his play sheet and headphones off in disgust as he vocally berated his troops for a missed assignment allowing Merrell to torment the Orange (2-4/1-1) again with a blocked FG for the second straight season.
“The blocked field goal, we know they’re very good at rushing, we actually made changes on that side,” a deflated Marrone said afterwards. “We fumbled a punt, we threw an interception, we dropped a lot of footballs out there.”
“We had a chance to make some plays, get it closer early, and…that’s been the problem…since I’ve been here. We’ve been hurting ourselves.”
On this beautiful fall afternoon for a football game at the sport’s birthplace, and in the final Big East rumble against an opponent they’ve faced 43 times overall dating all the way back to 1914, the Orange had four turnovers, ill-timed penalties among their seven infractions overall, and trouble converting on Rutgers side of the field, spotlighted by the third quarter field goal block.
Despite dropping six of their last eight league games dating back to last season, the players have put on a public face of unity and realize they have no choice but to look at themselves to right what’s wrong.
“The coaches can say all they want, that it’s their fault and all that,” said senior safety Sharmko Thomas who contributed six tackles in defeat. “But we’re out on the field, and we have to hold each other accountable, push each other, and motivate each other too.”
Now there’s a short week to prepare and correct the errors of their way before the Orange host old friend Paul Pasqualoni and Connecticut (3-4/0-2) Friday night, a foe Marrone and his teams have yet to conquer in three seasons.