Syracuse 13, Wake Forest 0 — What we learned

Syracuse evened its record at 4-4 on the season with a 13-0 win over Wake Forest. Here are some thoughts from the game:

Isaiah Johnson steps up

With John Raymond and Eric Crume nursing injuries, freshman Isaiah Johnson saw significant time. He came through midway through the third quarter with Syracuse up 7-0, batting a Tanner Price pass into the air and then laid out for an improbable interception. “We went into the game seeing if we could be at least plus one by the end of the game in turnovers and rush for 50 yards more than the opponent and we’d win that game,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. “We weren’t at that at the half and Isaiah was a big part of that, getting that plus one.” Johnson also added a half sack later. “They say I can’t be a freshman all year,” Johnson said. “So I had to step up with the big guys and that is what I did.”

» Related: Estime has career day in win over Wake Forest

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Johnson made a sprawling interception

More on that trick play

Johnson’s play helped set up Syracuse’s most entertaining score of the season. On the ensuing play after the interception, Terrel Hunt took the snap handed off to Jerome Smith, who then flipped a reverse to Jarrod West. The Deacons secondary bit on the reverse, and converged on West, leaving freshman Brisly Estime wide open in the end zone. West threw off the wrong leg, but still managed to find Estime from 20 yards out. “He was wide open so I mean I could have kicked it to him,” West said, drawing a few chuckles from the media. What’s ironic is that Syracuse coach Scott Shafer had scrapped the play earlier in the week. “It’s actually pretty funny because all week long we tried three different kids on that play and it was interception, interception, duck,” Shafer said. “I mean it was horrible.” That’s the wonder of gadget plays. They are a marvel to watch—when they work.

» Related: Syracuse blanks Deacons, evens record at 4-4

Defense redeems itself

A lot of credit has to go to the Syracuse defense, which was absolutely humiliated in the loss to Georgia Tech. The Orange defense didn’t let up all afternoon, and, although SU only finished with two sacks, Price was under heavy pressure all day. Wake only had 213 yards of total offense, while Price was 22 of 54 for just 173 yards, and his average yardage per pass was 3.2 (!). Part of that was because star WR Michael Campanaro was forced out of the game early with a shoulder injury, but it’s always impressive when a defense pitches a shutout no matter what. “I’m extremely proud of [defensive coordinator] Chuck Bullough and the defensive staff for the job they did coming off a difficult loss a couple of weeks ago where we were all embarrassed, starting with me,” Shafer said. “We really challenged those kids to come out and play good football and they did.”

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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