Syracuse Orange can’t solve Georgia Tech run game in brutal loss

The best thing Syracuse can take away from Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech is that they will not have a rematch until the 2020 season. The Orange (3-4, 1-2 ACC) were humiliated by the Yellow Jackets (4-3, 3-2) in their first meeting as conference foes, 56-0.

The hosts’ triple option simply was too much for SU to handle, as they rolled up 394 yards on the ground, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Georgia Tech’s ground game was so effective, they called a total of three pass plays in the first half as they opened up a 28-point lead.

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Syracuse was dominated on Saturday

Perhaps most puzzling about the game was the curious decision by the Syracuse coaching staff to set aside their normal 4-3 defensive alignment and replace it with a 3-4 set. The decision obviously backfired as the Yellow Jackets ran off 72 plays, 67 of them rushing attempts. In fact, Tech called one pass play in the final 26 minutes of the game, which resulted in a sack by the Orange.

» Related: Georgia Tech crushes SU

After a penalty derailed the first SU possession of the game, the Orange got the ball back when a Georgia Tech trick play backfired. On an end around handoff, the Tech wide receiver threw a deep ball that was underthrown, falling into the arms of Ri’Shard Anderson for an interception. The Syracuse offense found the right gear, ripping off three first downs and reaching midfield. The drive then bogged down and the Yellow Jackets blocked a punt, taking over at the SU 24. Four plays later, Tech was in the end zone and had a 7-0 lead.

Prince-Tyson Gulley gave the Orange excellent field position at the SU 49 on a great kickoff return and the team reached the Georgia Tech 22 on what turn out to be its deepest drive of the game. After a pair of penalties backed Syracuse up, the Jackets picked off a Terrel Hunt pass, then drove for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with just under a minute to play in the first.

The second quarter offered nothing better for SU. They gave up a touchdown on Tech’s first possession of the quarter, then allowed the Jackets to convert a Hunt fumble into another touchdown for a 28-0 margin with just under a minute left in the half.

Four plays into the second half, the Yellow Jackets completed their first pass of the game, a 46-yard touchdown bomb that boosted their lead to 35-0. With the Orange needing to shift to a pass-oriented offense to try to climb back in the game, Drew Allen replaced Hunt at quarterback. On third down, Allen was intercepted. It took four plays, including another wide-open deep pass, for the Yellow Jackets to tack on another touchdown and make it a 42-0 game less than five minutes into the third quarter.

Syracuse would invade Georgia Tech territory on the ensuing drive, but reached no further than the 31 before eventually being forced to punt. Georgia Tech turned to their reserves for the remainder of the game and tacked on two more touchdowns, one in each quarter.

» Related: Georgia Tech insider calls SU a ‘must-win’ game

While each quarterback received a full half of play, neither was effective, as both Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen failed to complete more than 50 percent of their attempts and both tallied under 70 yards passing. With SU turning to the pass after intermission, the run game was mostly ignored. Jerome Smith topped the backs with 11 carries and 43 yards.

Ri’Shard Anderson came up with the Orange defense’s only turnover, an interception, while Micah Robinson was credited with a sack. Josh Kirkland was credited with three tackles for loss in the game and, in first collegiate start, freshman linebacker Marquez Hodge piled up a dozen tackles.

The Orange have an off week before returning to action on Saturday, November 2 at the Carrier Dome when Wake Forest will come to town. The Demon Deacons (4-3, 2-2) take a two-game win streak into at #10 Miami next Saturday before their trip to Syracuse. Neither game time nor television coverage has been determined at this time.

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Jim Stechschulte

About Jim Stechschulte

A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.
Syracuse 0, Georgia Tech 56 — What we learned
Instant Juice: Syracuse 0, Georgia Tech 56
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