A quick take on Syracuse’s 30-7 win against Wake Forest, for the Orange’s first conference win of the season:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a sluggish first quarter where Syracuse allowed a 13-play, 91 yard touchdown march to the Deacons, SU exploded for 30 unanswered points to halt a four-game losing streak. Mostly everything went right for the Orange on the afternoon with two defensive touchdowns, and true freshman AJ Long directing a suddenly cohesive offensive unit. SU’s first defensive touchdown came with five minutes left in the first half, with Dyshawn Davis obliterating Wake QB John Wolford on a blindside blitz, forcing Wolford into a hurried throw into coverage. It was an easy pick and return for defensive lineman Robert Welsh, who rumbled 42 yards for the score. The defense would score again in the third quarter, with Brandon Reddish strip sacking Demon Deacons backup quarterback Tyler Cameron, leading to a scoop-and-score from DE Micah Robinson.
ANALYSIS: Long showed plenty of poise and moxie in his first college start, finishing with 171 yards through the air and a touchdown on the ground. Though Long finished with nine rushing yards, the stats don’t show how he extended multiple plays by evading sacks to buy time to find his receivers. Hunt is still out another 3-5 weeks recovering from a fractured fibula, so there may be a quarterback controversy when he gets back. If Long continues to impress, does Syracuse ride the momentum of its true freshman? Or, does Syracuse go back to Hunt, who had struggled before getting hurt? While the hypothetical assumes that Long continues his solid play, it is certainly something to keep an eye out on in the coming weeks.
HERO: Other than an early blip on Wake Forest’s second drive of the game, the Orange defense was stingy, limiting the Deacons to just 170 total yards, while nearly outscoring the SU offense. With Wolford injured after the Davis sack and Cameron coming up gimpy in the fourth quarter, Wake Forest was forced to rely on its run game, and the Orange took advantage, holding Wake Forest to 1.9 yards per carry.
ZERO: The problems that have plagued Syracuse all season were still present, even in a blowout. The Orange committed three false start penalties in the first quarter, though head coach Scott Shafer attributed that more to a true freshman quarterback making his first college start. Overall, the Orange was penalized six times for 55 yards. The red zone also continues to be a concern. Twice, the Orange had driven inside the 10 before being forced to settle for a pair of Cole Murphy field goals.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse continues its road trip when it travels to Clemson for a Sat., Oct. 25 7 p.m. matchup against the Tigers. TV: ESPNU.