Syracuse played one of its sloppiest game of the season in a 35-24 to Cincinnati on Saturday. Here are my grades:
Syracuse can’t seem to turn yardage into points. The Orange gained 479 yards but only scored 24 points.
The red zone was an issue again, with Syracuse having two drives stall out in the first half. The first resulted in an easy 24 yard chip shot for Ross Krautman in the opening quarter. Early in the second quarter, the Orange was on the move again, but Beckett Wales dropped a touchdown pass and SU had to settle for a field goal attempt (that was blocked).
Syracuse looked gassed in the fourth quarter and had nothing else for a comeback attempt. That was especially true of Ryan Nassib, who seemed to be off all afternoon.
On the bright side, Jerome Smith scored his first touchdown of the season, and added another 100+ yard game on the ground. Wales feasted off play action on the zone read, and finished with seven receptions for 87 yards. Alec Lemon had 101 yards and one touchdown. But it doesn’t matter when you’re not putting points on the board.
Before last Saturday’s game against USF, the Orange had not allowed any opponents this season to rush for more than 100 yards, and had given up just 212 rushing yards in its last four games. That ended when South Florida punished the Orange defense with 369 yards on the ground and the Bearcats continued that trend, with 263 rushing yards. George Winn accounted for 165 yards and three touchdowns as Syracuse again struggled with stopping the zone read. Overall, the Bearcats produced 470 yards of offense.
The Orange defense did force a pair of turnovers, and it should’ve been three after Winn’s fumble in the first quarter. But the officials inexplicably took that fumble away from the Orange. It actually could’ve been four, but Brandon Reddish dropped a pick-6 that shifted the whole momentum of the game.
It was one of the rare games where SU won the turnover battle (3-2), but didn’t win the game.
Special Teams: F
This was the easiest grade to give. From Jeremiah Kobena’s fumble on the opening kickoff, to the blocked field goal in the second quarter to Ross Krautman’s dreadful 1-3 day, this unit is once again in disarray. Kick coverage was also an issue as Ralph Abernathy averaged more than 25 yards a return and Danny Milligan put in a solid 17 yard punt return.