A quick take on Syracuse’s hard-earned and most satisfying 34-18 victory over West Virginia on a beautiful Friday evening for football, in front of an announced crowd of 41,125, with an abundance of orange, at the Camping World Bowl in Orlando:
WHAT HAPPENED: The 2018 Syracuse team became the seventh in the program’s storied history to win 10 games in a season, by pulling away and taking control with 17 fourth quarter points. Eric Dungey became the school’s all time passing yardage leader as he rebounded from a rough first half to lead the comeback win finishing 21 of 30 for 303 yards. And Dungey was in vintage form as he teamed up with Moe Neal on the play of the night, a 43 yard improvisation of beauty that set up the final ‘Cuse touchdown with 9:59 to play.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse (10-3) figured out its line breakdowns and how to get the offense in sync after halftime, while the Orange “D” finally contained West Virginia (8-4) backup quarterback Jack Allison to dominate the second half of play. The defense had five sacks and a pick by backup cornerback Allen Stritzinger, while All-American kicker Andre Szmyt booted two field goals.
HERO: Of course we salute Dungey, now the school’s all-time passing leader with 9,340 yards, but how about two transfers and three touchdowns? Oklahoma transfer running back Abdul Adams looked downright bullish on his two touchdown runs in the first half, while Trishton Jackson, from Michigan State, made an outstanding grab of Dungey’s early fourth quarter 14 yard pass to put the ‘Cuse up for good.
ZERO: The obvious targeting hit by West Virginia’s all Big XII safety Kenny Robinson Jr. on Orange wide receiver Taj Harris midway in the second quarter, a blow that knocked Harris’s helmet off his head and had him immediately reacting in pain. Robinson was disqualified from the game after review. Harris had four catches for 55 yards up to that point in the game. Another point to work on in the off-season (see below), cut down on the self-induced obstacles called penalties. SU had five in the first half, 11 for the game, or else this could have been another 40 plus points output.
WHAT’S NEXT: A much anticipated off-season. It begins with winter workouts, recruiting for the traditional February 6, 2019 national letter of intent day, then into spring practice. All eyes will be on the beginning of the Tommy DeVito era at quarterback, a horde of young talent at running back and wide receiver, the need to readjust on the lines, plenty of returning players in the secondary, and both kicking specialists.