A quick take on Syracuse’s ugly 34-20 loss to Maryland at the Carrier Dome on a picturesque Saturday afternoon in Central New York:
WHAT HAPPENED: Maryland busted open a 17-13 game in the second quarter after the Terps scored twice on Syracuse turnovers. Anthony Nixon blocked Riley Dixon’s punt midway through the second quarter and four plays later, Jacquille Veii punched it in from four yards to give Maryland a 24-13 lead. On the ensuing drive, Terrel Hunt threw an ugly interception to William Likely who returned it 88 yards for a touchdown. After that, the Orange offense frequently approached–but never found–the endzone until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
ANALYSIS: It was like groundhog day for the Syracuse offense. The Orange offense would have no problems marching into Maryland territory, but all too often, the offense would stall on a penalty (8 penalties for 58 yards), poor throw (Hunt was 14 of 28 passing) or turnover (2). That was reflected in the statistics, where the Orange accumulated 516 total yards and 304 yards on the ground, yet ended up scoring just 20 points. The back breaker was Hunt’s interception which came after SU had driven 72 yards on just six plays to the Maryland 17. To his credit, while Hunt was shaky all afternoon with his throws, he became the first quarterback since Donovan McNabb in 1997 to rush for more than 100 yards. He finished with 144 yards and a pair of scores.
HERO: Maryland quarterback CJ Brown had come into Saturday afternoon completing just 54 percent of his passes on the season. But he was an efficient 16 for 26 for 271 yards and a pair of scores. The loss spoiled an outstanding afternoon for Prince-Tyson Gulley, who rushed for 127 yards and 14 rushes.
ZERO: Syracuse’s special teams struggled all afternoon. Ryan Norton missed a 25-yard field goal to close the half. Riley Dixon had his punt blocked on awful protection. Even the normally reliable Riley Dixon received some boos from the crowd after booting two punts into the endzone for touchbacks. The lone bright spot was Cole Murphy, who came on to nail an early 49-yard field goal. Murphy may see more action given Norton’s struggles.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse heads to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to play No. 9 Notre Dame on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. TV: ABC.