A quick take on Syracuse’s 29-9 win over Ohio to start the 2021 season:
WHAT HAPPENED: A dominant Syracuse running attack busted open what was a tight game in the third quarter, as Sean Tucker’s 6-yard scamper into the end zone gave the Orange a 21-6 lead. After an Ohio field goal, Syracuse simplified its playbook, and called 10 straight run plays, culminating in a Cooper Lutz touchdown to give SU an insurmountable 29-9 lead. The Orange jumped out to an early lead as Tommy DeVito scored on Syracuse’s first drive on a QB keeper, and SU’s defense forced a safety.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse’s much-maligned offensive line looked competent, and it made a world of difference. With Chris Bleich starting at guard (a position that was played by tight end/fullback Chris Elmore last year), Syracuse surged to 280 yards on the ground with Tucker (181 yards) leading the way. The Orange defense gave up 346 total yards, and the Bobcats were able to threaten multiple times in the red zone. But it was a bend-not-break kind of day, as Syracuse made enough plays to keep Ohio out of the end zone. While it was not necessarily the perfect start to the season, Syracuse tied its win total from all of 2020 on the road against an opponent that it was (questionably) an underdog against.
HERO: Freshman Duce Chestnut was one of the crown jewels of SU’s 2021 signing class, and it’s easy to see why. Starting as a true freshman, Chestnut finished second on the team in tackles (8), made a key pass breakup on a 4th and 2 in the third quarter and added a late one-handed interception for good measure. Tucker was the offensive star, setting a new career high in rushing yards to go with his rushing touchdown.
ZERO: DeVito did little to definitively seize the quarterback reigns, throwing for 92 yards, though he did look more decisive in the pocket and ate only one sack. He was more effective with his feet, rushing 7 times for 49 yards and a score. DeVito couldn’t connect on any of his deep balls and had to settle for underneath throws, averaging just 5.4 yards per completion. Garrett Shrader did get some snaps when the game was already decided, and could perhaps play more of a factor in SU’s home opener against Rutgers next week.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts old Big East rival Rutgers in the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 2 p.m. TV: ACC Network.