A quick take on Syracuse’s 47-0 win over FCS Rhode Island in its season opener Friday night at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: It was a wild and bizzare opening night for Syracuse, with a sloppy first half highlighted by two offensive touchdowns, a punt return and a pick-6 that ended with the Orange up 31-0. The second half turned into a full rout and essentially a scrimmage, with head coach Scott Shafer emptying his bench. But the biggest news of the game came from Terrel Hunt, who suffered a lower body injury (Achilles) in the first half and did not return. Shafer said the injury was “not good” in his press conference. True freshman Eric Dungey took over and fired a touchdown pass for his first completion of his college career, and otherwise looked poised and comfortable for someone who was not even on the radar a few weeks ago. SU dominated in every statistical category, outgaining URI 426-64, 23-2 in first downs, and 40:14 to 18:18 in possession time.
ANALYSIS: For the second straight season, the Orange was not able to keep Hunt healthy, and cycled through its fifth starting quarterback in that time. In the short term, Dungey was more than capable, but tougher opponents await and the offense will certainly be tested without its leader. It was hard to tell too much about how SU will fare in the season otherwise. Though the Orange dominated on the scoreboard, URI is coming off a 1-11 season and is expected to finish 11th in a 12-team CAA.
HERO: Plenty of kudos to go around. There was Brisly Estime’s 74-yard punt return. Four separate running backs with 40 or more yards (included in that bunch was walk-on Jacob Hill). That group was led by Jordan Fredericks, who finished with 103-yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Dungey was 10-17 for 114 yards and a pair of TDs. Meanwhile, the defense was totally dominant with eight new starters, forcing four turnovers on an out-manned, out-gunned URI squad.
ZERO: Rhode Island defensive back Isaiah Hill was ejected for targeting midway through the first half on a hit against Dungey. For Syracuse, only 30,112 showed up, the fourth-lowest opening night crowd in Carrier Dome history.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays an early conference game when it hosts Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 12:30 at the Carrier Dome. TV: ACC Network.