A week after Syracuse coughed up the ball four times in an ugly loss to Rutgers, the Orange took much better care of the ball in a 40-10 win over Connecticut on Friday night.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone spent time this week preaching to his team about the importance of winning the turnover battle, and the Orange heeded his advice. SU didn’t have a single turnover while forcing two of their own.
Quarterback Ryan Nassib, who was intercepted twice last week against Rutgers, was a big part of the clean game. Nassib threw two touchdowns, and, more importantly, had no interceptions and wasn’t sacked.
“The turnovers have been on us,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “Ryan, we preached to him all week, take what they can give you, go through your progression… if continues to do that, he’s going to be much better in the final last couple games.”
Still, Marrone was concerned with several close calls on offense.
“When you say no turnovers, we had three fumbles,” he said. “That’s a concern. Your concern is how we carry it. I thought defensively, they were going for some balls. They were doing a better job of that. That ball is still on the ground three times and we are fortunate enough to get it.”
Maybe so, but the defense would’ve made up for it.
In the second quarter, free safety Durell Eskridge had an open path to Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer and laid a massive hit. Cameron Lynch recovered for the Orange near midfield to set up the Orange’s first touchdown.
It was a recurring theme for the whole night, as Whitmer was constantly under duress. Though Whitmer was only sacked twice, he was limited to 296 passing yards.
“We had a good tendency on trying to bring pressure to the weak side and the one Durell (Eskridge) ran we hadn’t run since quite a while back last year so I was hoping that we could catch them on that,” defensive coordinator Scott Shafer said. “It was a nice blitz by Durell and it was a big play. It was a great play.”
Shamarko Thomas would intercept Whitmer late in the fourth quarter for the game’s second turnover.
“We knew what we had to work on,” Thomas said. “We knew that if we had no turnovers or mistakes we would have a good game and we showed it today.”