With Syracuse a third of the way through the season, and coming off a bye week, we figured it was a good time to look back at the first four games of the season with a report card. We start with the offense today, and on Wednesday (Oct. 7), we’ll take a look at the defense and special teams. The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng give their grades below:
Bierman: With unexpectedly having to already come up with game plans for three different starting quarterbacks, coordinator Tim Lester has tailored each game approach to now put Eric Dungey and Zack Mahoney in the best positions to score points, with the Orange averaging a productive 33 points per game. The ‘Cuse has been economical with the football, there have been only four interceptions and no fumbles lost. Five running backs have spread out the rushing attack that’s had its ups and downs with consistency behind an experienced offensive line. Speed demon Brisly Estime and standout receiver Steve Ishmael could always use more touches than their combined 15 catches for three touchdowns. Ben Lewis has chipped in with eight receptions filling in for Erv Phillips.
Cheng: Syracuse has scored 24 or more points in each of its four games this season, and has averaged 32.0 points per game this season, good for 88th in the NCAA. While its overall rank doesn’t sound particularly impressive, keep in mind that SU scored 30 or more points just twice in 2014: A 40-3 win over Central Michigan and a 30-7 win against Wake Forest. That’s it. Syracuse opened the season with three consecutive games of 30 or more points, the first time that’s happened since the end of the 2012 season (SU scored 3o or more points in four straight games against Louisville, Missouri, Temple and then in the Pinstripe Bowl against West Virginia). And they’ve done this while shuffling four quarterbacks and dealing with injuries to key position players. Not too shabby. If Dungey returns and continues to show the same flair that he flashed against Wake Forest and CMU, there’s no reason why the Orange can’t continue to score at a healthy clip.
Be sure to check in on Wednesday when Bierman and Cheng give their grades for the defense and special teams.