Syracuse 20, Maryland 3 — What we learned

Syracuse picked up its fifth win of the season with a 20-3 win at Maryland. Here are some thoughts from the game:

HOW ABOUT THAT D?

The Orange defense has been an enigma this whole year. Consider that in three games (Clemson, Northwestern and Georgia Tech), the defense has allowed more than 48 points, and has looked more like a doormat than door stopper. Then there are games like Saturday’s, where the defense absolutely shined. Syracuse kept an ACC opponent out of the endzone for the second straight game, causing four turnovers, while consistently harassing Terps QB CJ Leslie, who finished 21/40 with two interceptions. Maryland could muster just 292 yards of total offense, while the Orange completely dominated Maryland on third (5-17 conversions) and fourth (1-4) downs. Syracuse’s zone blitzing was equally as effective on the run game, holding the Terps to just 81 rushing yards, a week after they held Wake Forest to 25 yards on the ground.  “I thought Coach Bullough, Coach Daoust, Coach Lea and Coach Reed did a great job getting this defense prepared to play a couple weeks in a row when there were a lot of doubters out there,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said.

» Related: Syracuse knocks off Maryland

maryland

Syracuse picked up two INTs on Saturday

SILLY PENALTIES, AGAIN

Syracuse had another terrible day with penalties. They were flagged 12 times for a loss of 115 yards, and the penalties were responsible for the defense’s scoreless streak coming to an end. This is how it unfolded: Syracuse was forced to punt with 5:27 left in the third quarter when they were up 13-0. A kick catch interference call spotted the ball at the Maryland 47. On the first play of the drive, Julian Whigham was flagged for pass interference before Robert Welsh picked up a face mask penalty. All of those penalties are 15-yarders. So, without a single positive offensive play, Syracuse allowed the Terps to march all the way to the 22-yard line, before Maryland had to settle for a field goal.

ONE MORE WIN TO A BOWL GAME

Syracuse is an excellent position to make a bowl game. Syracuse only needs to win one of its final three games (at FSU, home against Pittsburgh and Boston College) to qualify for back-to-back bowls for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Besides the extra practices and recruiting boon that always comes from bowl games, it would be sweet validation for Shafer’s group, who was picked to finish at the bottom of the ACC by most major publications. As reported by The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman, representatives from the Advocare V100 and Military Bowls were in attendance, and you can be sure that they did that with Syracuse in mind.

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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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