Here are 10 things we learned from Syracuse’s 37-36 win over USF on Saturday:
1. Quinta Funderburk made another appearance last night! Our favorite Arkansas transfer, who is ineligible this season, apparently committed a penalty on a kickoff, according to ESPN announcer Mike Gleason. Whatever is wrong with the media guide, it needs to be fixed. At least Gleason pronounced Siriki Diabate’s name correctly. What’s that? Oh.
2. You think you had it bad watching the final 90 seconds last night? You’ve got nothing on the old ball coach. Great quote from Doug Marrone after the game when asked if this was the most exhausted he’d ever been at the end of the game. “Mentally, I’ve always been exhausted. After games it is very difficult for me. I always think that when we lose, I try to do a good job of overcoming the mental fatigue and physical fatigue. And when we win, I just want to get the heck out of there and let you guys talk to the players.”
3. What is going on with Ross Krautman? Das Boot missed his sixth field goal attempt of the season with 6:07 left in the first half. He pushed his gimme 22 yard chip shot off the left post and on the very next play, Lindsey Lamar took it 80 yard for a 20-3 lead. No bueno…
4. I’ve been a huge fan of the defense all season. Syracuse has been in every single game they’ve played because of its D. But for whatever reason, the Orange has always had its problems against BJ Daniels, especially on the ground. This is a defense that had not allowed any opponents this season to rush for more than 100 yards, and had given up just 212 rushing yards in its last four games. That is, until Saturday. USF carved up the SU defense with 369 yards on the ground (Daniels had 134 of those.)
5. Syracuse forced the only turnover of the game after Durell Eskridge blocked Justin Brockhaus-Kann’s punt. As Marrone has said all season, the team who wins the turnover battle generally wins the game. And what a momentum swing! You knew that this game was going to the wire after that punt block. And so did SU. Said Eskridge: “My team, they told me that I changed the whole game around. It felt wonderful. It felt like, I don’t know, it was a wonderful feeling.”
6. You have to give Syracuse all sorts of credit for getting back in the game after being down 23-3 at half. Plenty of people (myself included) left them for dead during intermission. But whatever Marrone said at half, he needs to say it again, and again, and again. Just tremendous heart from this team to not panic. “You’ve got to rally them up. You go in there and scream and yell and everything, that’s not going to help. With other teams it might, but not this one,” Marrone said.
7. Heck of a catch by Marcus Sales on the last drive of the game. Mark Joyce was there a split second too late and Sales corralled that pass and managed to stay in bounds. That was on 3rd and 10, too. I wonder what it would be like if Sales wasn’t on the team this year. Actually, let’s not wonder. Forget I said that.
8. Speaking of that final drive, helmet sticker to Ryan Nassib, right? Remarkable poise and moxie. He never seemed rattled and had perfect timing on all of those out routes. He even had the presence of mind to try that QB sneak before USF called timeout.
9. According to ESPN Stats and Information, South Florida is the first team this season to blow a halftime lead of at least 20 points. The last team to do so was Ohio in last year’s MAC Championship Game. And this is a team that has had all sorts of problems closing in the last two seasons. I feel bad for their fan base to have this happen over and over again. But, they never experienced anything close to the G-Rob (I mean, the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) era. So I don’t feel that bad.
10. Did anyone worry about a Stanford band play on the final kickoff? There was a moment where I held my breath and you could hear the roar from the home crowd.