A quick take on Syracuse’s uneven performance in its 16-10 defeat to NC State Thursday night, in front of a very vocal home crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N. C.:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) remained winless in the ACC after two conference games in 2019 falling to the relentless Wolfpack, and fell to 5-16 all-time on the road in conference play since debuting in 2013, wasting a strong “bend-but-did not break” defensive effort that kept SU in the game into the fourth quarter. The ‘Cuse simply could not find its offensive groove against the North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1) defense beginning with the opening drive, unable to establish a running game (just 41 yards on the ground), which in turn stifled the passing attack. A late Tommy DeVito to Trishton Jackson two yard touchdown pass with 3:00 left made it a one score game, before a last gasp SU drive ended with a DeVito sack on the NCSU 44 yard line.
ANALYSIS: Orange is the new…fast? The Syracuse offense struggled most of the game, not being able to gain yards rushing, and DeVito and his wide receivers seemed out of sync save for a few big plays that moved the ball in the second half. NC State’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage, blitzing repeatedly, and the strategy was simple; try to make DeVito beat them with his arm, and until the late flurry in a desperate comeback bid, it worked, with DeVito (29-for-39, 300-yards-one TD pass) running to avoid lost yardage all night.
HERO: Making his first career start, Pack sophomore quarterback Bailey Hockman was steady enough throughout the game guiding NCSU to just enough scoring drives and points to let its defense do the rest. Hockman finished 16-for-27 with 205 yards in the air, while the aggressive NCSU defense had eight sacks of DeVito and stuffed the SU running game at the line of scrimmage with 11 tackles for loss yardage.
ZERO: The tone was set on the opening kickoff, with a holding penalty on Tyrell Richards that set the Orange deep in their own territory, and by halftime, the ‘Cuse had six penalties. They finished with a sloppy twelve yellow flags overall, and Antwan Cordy added to the misery with an uncalled for unsportsmanlike conduct call for trash talking prior to NCSU’s third quarter field goal that made the score 16-0. SU kicker Andre Szmyt missed a 44 yard FG off the left upright just before halftime, his first miss of the season.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays another weeknight game in eight days, hosting arch-rival Pittsburgh in the Dome on Friday, Oct. 18. The Orange have only beaten the Panthers once (2017) in six ACC games, falling in OT last year at Heinz Field. Pitt (4-2, 1-1) is off this week. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN.