Syracuse left to ponder future after bad loss to Georgia Tech

The Syracuse Orange limps into its bye week after what can only be described as a dominating dismantling at the hands of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets last week by a score of 56-0. Adapting to the brave new world of the Atlantic Coast Conference has been anything but easy. Through three games, Syracuse sits with a 1-2 record in which it has been outscored by a 115-38 mark.

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Syracuse was thrashed by the Jackets

Syracuse was outclassed in every aspect of the game against the Jackets. Georgia Tech trampled them on the ground 394 yards to a mere 75. The Orange ran for a combined 685 yards in its first two league games. The Jackets used their dominating triple option ground attack to control time of possession by a whopping 37:39 to 22:21 margin. Syracuse’s punter, Riley Dixon, had more punting yardage (325 yards on seven kicks) than the total offensive output generated by the Orange, 208 yards. As life under first-year head coach Scott Shafer and an almost entirely new coaching staff continues to evolve, some problems continue to plague the Orange game in and game out.

» Related: Add it up, and SU came up short in Atlanta

Yellow Laundry

Nothing kills drives faster, or makes coaches lose their hair quicker, than penalties. Silly stupid penalties. And Syracuse has committed more than its share. After seven games, the Orange has been flagged for 55 penalties for 448 yards compared to 27 penalties for only 230 yards by its opponents. That’s an average of almost eight penalties for 64 yards each game. Versus FCS opponent Wagner, a game Syracuse won 54-0, the Orange committed eight penalties for 65 yards while the Seahawks were caught twice for 10 yards. The most lopsided margin came against Georgia Tech. Syracuse committed season highs in penalties and yards (9-for-91) while the Jackets weren’t flagged once. The Orange simply can’t expect to beat remaining league foes such as Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College by constantly extending their opponents’ drives or stalling its own.

Greasy Fast Speed

The Orange’s passing game was abysmal for the third straight game. A big part of that is the inability of the wide receivers to get separation. The overall skill position players’ speed as a whole has increased year after year once the quality of recruiting picked up under former coach Doug Marrone. But it hasn’t been enough. Ashton Broyld and true freshman Brisly Estime have shown that they have some wheels but neither has developed into a legitimate down field threat that opposing defenses need to game plan for.

» Related: FSU has become the team to slay in the ACC

Good Terrel Hunt-ing

The sophomore quarterback struggled mightily for the third straight game completing 7-of-14 passes for just 68 yards and an interception before being benched for Drew Allen. Hunt has yet to throw a touchdown pass in conference play while tossing six picks. More alarming is that Hunt hasn’t passed for more than 100 yards in any ACC game. Hunt has been under center for Syracuse’s three wins on the season and gives the team a better chance to win than Allen in part because of his scrambling ability. Unless Hunt starts to make strides through the air as the season continues, the question of whether or not he’s the long-term solution at quarterback will have to be revisited.

Syracuse has five games remaining. One of those is at Florida State, which is too tall of an order for the way the team is playing now. The other four games are all winnable if the Orange can cut down on the problems that plague them. Shafer’s team will need to do just that in order to find three more wins to reach bowl eligibility.

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About Steve Auger

Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. His work has been published on Care.com, Tom’s of Maine, Purina’s Petcentric.com and the Westford Patch. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. Follow him on Twitter @Corner_Cube.
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