Syracuse 20, Florida State 38 — What we learned

Syracuse dropped its fourth game of the season, losing to Florida State. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

This loss was a win

Admit it. This was a moral victory. Saturday’s game against the No. 1 team in the country had all the makings of a blowout. This was the same team that pummeled Syracuse 59-3 last year. And at least last year’s team had an established quarterback and offensive coordinator. Yet, despite one of the most turbulent weeks in recent history, the Orange remained resilient, keeping it close (and within the spread!) throughout. “At the end of the season it’s a win or a loss. We didn’t get it done,” Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. “We came up short, that’s on me and we have to find a way to get it done next week.” While this game will obviously go down in the loss column, the Orange has some momentum and confidence heading into the rest of the season. You definitely couldn’t say that at this point last week.

» Related: Syracuse fans should look forward to basketball season

Ajlong2

AJ Long was impressive in his Syracuse debut

Syracuse has found its quarterback

One week after scoring just six points against Louisville, the Orange found a spark this week with quarterback AJ Long. The true freshman made some, well, freshman mistakes, including a red zone pick in the third quarter immediately following a Florida State turnover. But he was otherwise impressive, finishing with 167 yards and two touchdowns on 16 for 27 passing. Long clearly distinguished himself from backup Austin Wilson, and played the rest of the way after Wilson suffered an “upper body injury” in the second half. Long hooked up with fellow true freshman Steve Ishmael for both scores, including an impressive 36 yard strike. “You couldn’t write a script any better for a true freshman that everybody thought runs his mouth before, to come out and play the No. 1 team in the country and play a decent game,” Long said. The Orange offense mostly kept pace with Florida State’s, with the Seminoles outgaining SU 482-412.

Too many missed opportunities

During Saturday’s broadcast, ESPN announcer Bob Wischusen had the following to say: “If you want to pull the upset, you have to make every play.” There were plenty of opportunities for Syracuse to make this an even closer game. Durrell Eskridge dropped a surefire interception, and a few plays later, FSU scored. Austin Wilson threw a surefire pick after an impressive opening drive. Long threw an interception while trying to throw the ball away. Josh Parris and Ishmael dropped a couple of easy receptions. When you’re playing the No. 1 team in the country, there is no margin for error, and SU couldn’t stay within the margins. “We need to do a good job of understanding just how important it is that when we have opportunities, we have to make them,” Shafer said. “We have to learn how to finish those opportunities.”

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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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