Syracuse v. Missouri report card

Daryl Gross

The Orange clinched a bowl berth with its 31-27 victory over the Missouri Tigers this weekend. Here are the grades from the game:

Offense: B+

The offense started off slow. It struggled in the first three quarters of the game to put points on the board. But the unit ignited in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 of its 31 points. A huge reason for that was Ryan Nassib’s success.

Daryl Gross gives high marks for the win

Nassib threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns. Alec Lemon caught 244 of those yards and was the receiver who caught the game-winning touchdown. The fourth quarter was passing dominated, which was crucial on a day when the running game was struggling. Jerome Smith ran for just 53 yards and Prince-Tyson Gulley went for 48.

The Tigers shut down the running game, putting the offense and the game in Nassib’s hands. He rose to the challenge.

» Related: Video highlights from SU’s win

Defense: A

There was nothing perfect about this defensive performance as it gave up almost 500 total yards. But it was the defense that kept the game in reach for the Orange.

The defense couldn’t afford to blitz too many because James Franklin would pick apart the secondary if each player wasn’t tightly covered. For a lot of plays, that left for a three-man defensive line. But putting pressure on Franklin was also a key to success. The front line stepped up big time, keeping pressure on Franklin, especially late in the game.

The Missouri offense was just 3-for-14 on third down conversions. The Orange defense shut them down when it counted.

» Related: 10 things we learned in the win

Special Teams: A

I’m not sure what happened to this special teams unit but it has flipped a switch in the past couple of weeks. Jonathan Fisher was worked hard against Missouri, punting six times. He pinned the Tigers inside the 20-yard line twice and one of his punts ended up inside the five.

Ross Krautman hit a solid 44-yard field goal in the first quarter and Jeremiah Kobena and Ritchy Desir each had respectable returns.

I gauge special teams performance based on mistakes. Since it didn’t really make any mistakes against Missouri, they earn an A from me.

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