A quick take on Syracuse’s 41-6 loss to No. 1 Clemson in front of 50,248 fans, the third-largest crowd in Carrier Dome history:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse’s fortunes rose and fell within the span of two plays. Down 17-6 with 11 minutes left in the third quarter, cornerback Christopher Frederick intercepted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence deep in Clemson territory, and returned it to the 9-yard line. But on the very next play, Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito was chased from the pocket and inexplicably threw into tight coverage, and directly into the hands of cornerback Mario Goodrich. Three more plays after that, Lawrence found Amari Rodgers for a screen pass, and a Trill Williams missed tackle that led to an 87 yard touchdown pass, giving Clemson a 24-6 lead. Williams would give Syracuse one final chance, intercepting a pass and returning it to the Clemson 5-yard line with 7:00 to go in the third. But SU couldn’t score in four downs, and turned it over.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse had chances to make this a closer game, but failed to take advantage each time. Four times, the Orange had the ball in the red zone and could only muster six points. Part of that was of course poor execution on the part of Syracuse, but credit is due to the Clemson defense. Three of the five interceptions that Lawrence has thrown this year resulted in the opposing team getting the ball in the red zone. The Tigers gave up zero points on all of those situations. On the other side of the ball, Syracuse’s defense had a much stronger outing one week after being torched for 63 points by Maryland. Though the Tigers had more than 600 yards of offense and scored an early 14 points in the first quarter, Syracuse’s defense settled down, and held the Tigers to 4-12 on third downs and forced two turnovers. Had it not been for its solid effort, this game would’ve been out of hand much earlier.
HERO: Rodgers led all receivers with four receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns, the big one of course being his 87-yard backbreaking score.
ZERO: Syracuse’s offense is in need of some major work, averaging just 15.6 points through the first three games. The offensive line, playing without starting center Sam Heckel, had serious problems protecting DeVito. The Syracuse quarterback was sacked eight times and the Orange offense could only gain 15 combined yards on the ground. But DeVito also has to make better decisions. His interception following the Frederick interception was simply a bad decision, reminiscent of interceptions he threw against Liberty and Maryland where he forced a pass into a window that didn’t exist.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Western Michigan at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 12:00 p.m. TV: ACC Network.