Syracuse 6, Louisville 28 — What we learned

Syracuse dropped its ACC opener at home to Louisville, 28-6. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

Teams are keying in on Hunt’s rushing ability

Opposing teams have figured out how to slow down the Syracuse offense. In SU’s 31-15 loss against Notre Dame, Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt unleashed 38 passes, and only completed 22 of them. Meanwhile, the Irish took away running opportunities for Hunt, and he rushed for just 26 yards on seven carries. It was more of the same on Friday, with Louisville essentially daring Hunt to beat them with his arm. It worked, with Hunt completing just 17 of 32 passes for 196 yards and two interceptions. “We owe the D-line. They make sure they stay on his low shoulders so he couldn’t get out and scramble,” said  Cardinals linebacker Keith Kelsey. “They didn’t let him out of the pocket.” Hunt could only escape the pocket five times for eight yards. Compare that to when Hunt rushed 23 times for 156 yards against Maryland, and the SU offense gained 589 total yards despite only scoring 20 points. “We got guys who can really rush the passer so I thought overall our defense did a great job,” Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said.

» Related: Syracuse needs more talent, better execution

HuntstruggleLville

Hunt wasn’t able to scramble much against Louisville

Bad clock management at end of first half costs SU points

It was a bizarre sequences of events to end the first half. The Orange begun its drive with 50 seconds left and no timeouts. When Hunt picked up a first down at midfield, he attempted to call timeout but without any left, he wasted precious seconds lining his team up to spike the ball. That proved costly after Hunt sailed a 39-yard pass down field to Jarrod West for an impressive reception with two seconds left. Hunt was instructed to spike the ball, which he did. Unfortunately, NCAA rules don’t allow a spike with under three seconds left, and the Orange didn’t came away empty (a recurring theme on the night) on what could’ve been a momentum building scoring drive. “We rushed to judgment and tried to spike it and didn’t have time,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. “If we had three we probably would have had a shot there but we came up short and didn’t get it done and that’s on me. Poor job by [me] on that one.”

Margin is razor thin for bowl bid

The bad news is that Syracuse’s schedule doesn’t give them any breaks. The Orange host No. 1 Florida State next week before a two-game road trip to Wake Forest and Clemson. With the loss against Louisville, the margin for a bowl bid is razor thin. You can’t expect Syracuse to win against Florida State or Clemson. The remainder of the schedule includes Wake Forest, NC State, Duke, Pittsburgh and Boston College. While those last five games are winnable, SU hasn’t exactly played inspiring football in its last three games to think that SU could take four of those five games “We’ll fight our butts off and force ourselves to be men,” Shafer said. “We don’t listen to anything on the outside; we call it the noise. We’ll fight like a good family would fight to get back to where they want to be and it’s a blast.”

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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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