Syracuse’s had an abysmal performance against Minnesota on Saturday night, losing 17-10. The Orange couldn’t score a touchdown until late in the game, and had four turnovers and 10 penalties in the loss. But the rest of the units were solid. Here are my grades.
Syracuse’s offensive line was shredded by Minnesota, as Ryan Nassib was consistently under duress all game. Think Syracuse misses Justin Pugh about now? His absence certainly hurt the passing attack, as Marcus Sales had by far his worst game of the season.
Coming into the game, Sales had 350 receiving yards (fourth in the NCAA) and led the Big East with 116.7 receiving yards per game and 8.3 receptions per game. He finished with two receptions for 32 yards. As for Nassib? He came into the game third in the NCAA in passing yards at 379.7 yards per game. He was held to 228 yards and was intercepted twice. Oh, and then there were the two fumbles.
On the bright side, Alec Lemon had nine catches for 106 yards, and passed Scott Schwedes to become the all-time receptions leader in Syracuse history with 145. But that was really the lone bright spot for an offense that could only account for 10 points.
Though most of the talk will be about SU’s inept offense, credit the defense for keeping the team in the game. Although Minnesota had a 33:38 to 26:22 advantage on the clock, and had better field position throughout the game due to SU’s four turnovers, the defense limited Minnesota to just 17 points.
Other key stats:
- The Gophers gained just 337 yards for the game, and were actually outgained by SU (350).
- Sophomore Max Shortell in a spot start was just 16 for 30.
- Running back Donnell Kirkwood may have had two touchdowns, but he also only carried for 3.5 yards a touch, a full yard below his season average.
“We responded well like we always have,” linebacker Marquis Spruill said. “We need to work hard to get better every week. When the turnovers came, we got on the field and did what we had to do.”
Special Teams: B
Syracuse had a couple of close calls on special teams. Ritchy Desir muffed a punt, but recovered it. Wayne Morgan seemed to step over the 1 yard line before taking a kneel on the game’s kickoff, but it was ruled a touchback.
But, for a unit that has been criticzed all season, they finally put in a solid performance. Here’s a brief summary of what they did:
- Ross Krautman, who has missed 3 FGs this season, hit his only field goal attempt of the game.
- Jonathan Fisher placed two punts inside the 20 without any touchbacks.
- A.J. Barker had only one punt return for -3 yards.
- Minnesota only averaged 15.5 yards on kickoff returns.