By now you’re well aware that Notre Dame hung 50 on the Orange this past Saturday in The House That Eli Built. Sitting at 2-3 with an important trip to Winston Salem on the docket this weekend, here is a look at what went right and what went wrong against the Irish along with some trends that have developed for Syracuse.
Amab Etta-Tawo continues to do Amba Etta-Tawo things. Eric Dungey’s new best friend hauled in seven more receptions for 134 yards including another 72-yard highlight-reel touchdown. While not quite as impressive as his performances against Colgate and UConn, Etta-Tawo continues to put the vertical back into SU’s passing attack.
Speaking of scoring long touchdowns, Irish wideout Equanimeous St. Brown scored on a 79-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. Dino Babers now knows lightning does strike twice in the same place as Louisville’s James Quick found the endzone on a 72-yard strike one play into its victory over the Orange.
Keeping Dungey upright this year has been a focal point given the number of brutal hits he absorbed last season. But that doesn’t mean he can’t put his wheels to good use. Dungey found pay dirt three times from inside the 10-yard line against ND. He now has five rushing TDs through five games with six yards being the longest run. Opposing defenses have to take not when Syracuse moves into the redzone.
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Special teams were anything but against the Irish. Cole Murphy had a PAT blocked and returned for two points in addition to missing a 40-yard field goal right before halftime that would’ve cut Notre Dame’s lead to three points. Syracuse had barely finished celebrating Etta-Tawo’s touchdown before it surrendered a 93-yard kickoff return for a score.
The offense continues to show an ability to score on anyone from anywhere. Here is Syracuse’s first half scoring through the first five games: 20, 21, 17, 17, and 27. It has also scored eight touchdowns outside of the redzone after having 11 all of last season.
Unfortunately, the fast starts don’t carry over to the second halves. Here is Syracuse’s second half scoring through the first five games: 13, 7, 3, 14, and 6. Last season’s offense scored 35 touchdowns. This year’s team is on a pace for 41 touchdowns. That’s just a half TD more than a year ago. So despite the improvements, the team isn’t scoring as much as it seems.
Syracuse has shown the ability to compete and score against teams that, for the most part, recruit better talent in Louisville, South Florida, and Notre Dame. Not only does that bode well for the future when Babers has a team loaded with his type of recruits but also in the short term against remaining opponents that don’t have potent offenses.
The defense isn’t exactly helping out the offense though. Opponents have corralled a whopping 504 YPG while scoring almost 38 PPG. Losing defensive backs Antwan Cordy and Juwan Dowels to season-ending injuries certainly hasn’t helped as the players struggle to adjust to the Tampa-2 scheme.
This week at his press conference, Babers said, “you guys will like the cake we’re baking. Now is not the time to eat the batter.”
The oven is set and the timer’s on. Give the cake a chance to finish before taking your next bite.
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