A quick take on Syracuse’s 62-28 loss against Louisville on Friday evening at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Louisville took a commanding 21-0 in less than five minutes, scoring three touchdowns on just five plays. But a pair of scoring drives at the end of the half pulled the Orange to within 35-21. The Orange stayed within 14 for most of the third quarter, trailing 42-28 to start the fourth. But a field goal from Evan O’Hara early in the fourth quarter made it a three-possession game and from there, the flood gates opened for Louisville in a game that was closer than what the final result showed. There wasn’t much defense played, with the Cardinals gaining 844 total yards.
ANALYSIS: The two main takeaways from this game: (1) The Orange displayed some mental toughness, not giving up after they were down 21-0 and later 28-7. Though SU never seriously threatened Louisville, the Orange managed to show some flashes of brilliance on offense. And the defense, which was torched in the first five minutes and also the last 10, managed to settle down, keep Syracuse in the game until early in the fourth quarter, and force three turnovers. (2) The flip side of that is there is no good way to spin giving up 844 yards on defense and 62 points. Though SU is more fun to watch, it has a long way to go if it wants to compete against the top of the ACC. SU’s schedule won’t get any easier, with elite QBs Deondre Francois (FSU), Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and Deshone Kizer (Notre Dame) on the horizon.
HERO: Lamar Jackson accounted for 305 yards of total offense and four touchdowns — in the first quarter. He finished with an unfathomable 411 yards of passing and 199 yards of rushing, and nearly broke social media with this hurdle for a rushing touchdown. For Syracuse, Amba Etta-Tawo followed up his 210 yard receiving opener against Colgate with eight more receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
ZERO: Two games in to the 2016 campaign and the running game is becoming a big concern. Against Colgate, Syracuse rushed 35 times for just 117 yards, an average of 3.3 yards per carry. Against a much stronger Louisville defense, the Orange rushing attack was once again hapless, with 40 rushes for 121 yards (3.0 YPG). Syracuse’s secondary was also exposed time and time again by Jackson. Had it not been for some bad drops, Jackson could’ve topped 500 yards of passing.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse continues its homestand, hosting South Florida on Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.