Instant Juice: Syracuse 14, Wake Forest 38

Syracuse head coach Dino Babers addresses the media during a post-game press conference. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

A quick take on Syracuse’s maddening 38-14 loss against Wake Forest on Halloween afternoon at the Dome:

WHAT HAPPENED: It was a long second half in the quiet building as Syracuse (1-6, 1-5) dropped its fourth straight game, and in head-shaking fashion.  Trailing 17-7 at the half and receiving the third quarter kickoff, SU went three and out.  Wake Forest (5-2, 4-2) then scored on a third down, 81-yard pass completion from Sam Hartman to a wide-open Jaquarii Roberson.  One play from scrimmage later Wake scored again on a 32-yard pick six by Gavin Holmes off Rex Culpepper, and that essentially ended matters just three minutes into the second half.  The Orange were in the Halloween spirit at least, wearing an all-orange uniform ensemble in the defeat.

ANALYSIS: Playing without leading rusher Sean Tucker on offense, and starting cornerback Trill Williams on defense, an already depleted Orange roster went further down the depth chart.  While the SU defense did a commendable job in the first half, it was hurt by penalties (seven) in keeping Demon Deacon drives alive in the second half and has been a season-long problem, simply was on the field for too many downs (82 Wake plays).  Culpepper struggled throwing the ball finishing 15-27 for just 85 yards, and could only muster the offense to a second quarter touchdown pass to Nykeim Johnson.  Freshman JaCobian Morgan replaced Culpepper over the final 7:30 of the game, and led SU to its second touchdown on an 80-yard drive.  The 6-4 Morgan threw his first collegiate touchdown pass (3-yards) to Luke Benson with 3:11 left, and went 7-for-7 passing.  Morgan should likely get more playing time over the final four games.

HERO: In a most unusual pandemic-plagued and lost season, why not a tip of the hat in a losing cause to ‘Cuse running back Cooper Lutz?  The redshirt sophomore out of Pennsylvania had to pick up the slack for an injured Tucker and did an admirable job, in relative terms.  Lutz finished with 112-yards of total offense including 15 carries for 87-yards.  Wake Forest running back Kenneth Walker III paced the winners with three rushing touchdowns, averaging five yards per carry.

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ZERO: Is there another win left on the schedule for Syracuse, or will it be the first one-win season since the 1-10 disaster under Greg Robinson in 2005?  Next week’s opponent Boston College just played No. 1 tough (see below), followed by a Friday night road game at Louisville (Nov. 20), N.C. State in the Dome (Nov. 28) and finishing at No. 4 Notre Dame (Dec. 5).  Ouch.  SU will certainly not be favored in any of its remaining contests.,

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse remains home to face longtime rival Boston College next Saturday, Nov. 7.  The teams have alternated winning on the road during Dino Babers four previous games against the Eagles, with BC hammering the Orange 58-27 in the Dome last season.  Boston College (4-3, 3-3) gave top-ranked Clemson all it could handle on the road Saturday before falling 34-28.  Game Time: 2:00 p.m. ET.  TV: ACC Regional Sports Networks.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.