A quick take on Syracuse’s 76-61 loss to Pitt on Saturday afternoon to close out the 2016 season:
WHAT HAPPENED: Already down 35-21 to begin the second half, reserve quarterback Zack Mahoney threw a backbreaking pick-6 to Dane Johnson, giving Pitt a 42-21 lead with 11:38 left in the third quarter. On Pitt’s ensuing possession, Quadree Henderson took it to the house on a 66-yard run, giving Pitt an insurmountable lead in what ended up being a back-and-forth offensive slugfest. It ended an up-and-down season for Dino Babers first season on The Hill, dropping the Orange to 4-8 and eliminating any outside chance of a bowl game.
ANALYSIS: The 2016 season comes to a close and the Orange will miss a bowl game for the third straight season. But there are plenty of positives in Dino Babers’ first season at Syracuse, namely an upset of then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, the first ranked opponent that SU has toppled since the Doug Marrone era. While the wins and losses didn’t show it, few can argue that Babers’ team this season was more competitive than Shafer’s team last year. It takes time to implement a system, especially ones that are as dramatic as Babers’ uptempo offensive scheme, and the Tampa 2 philosophy on defense. So the key for the fan base is patience as Babers recruits his own style of players to Syracuse.
HERO: Amba Etta-Tawo had a day reserved for video games with the setting on easy, catching 13 passes for 178 yards and five touchdowns. In case you were wondering, yes, that is a school record for most touchdowns by a receiver in a single game.
ZERO: Syracuse’s defense gave up 646 yards, 395 of them on the ground. Pitt averaged 10.1 yards per rush and scored at least two touchdowns in each quarter. The 125 combined points was the most in ACC history, eclipsing the previous mark of 138 set by Georgia Tech and North Carolina in 2012.
WHAT’S NEXT: See you in September, with the Orange likely to open the 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 2, though there is no scheduled opponent at the moment.