Syracuse fans return to the Carrier Dome, but the result is familiar

SU-Rutgers (1)
Sep 11, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (16) throws a pass as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Mike Tverdov (97) closes in during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

In the first football game following renovations that have made the Carrier Dome roof no longer supported by air, Syracuse suffered a deflating 17-7 loss to Rutgers in their home opener. Save for back-to-back plays on their lone scoring drive, the Orange offense was mostly punchless on the day, notching only eight plays that produced more than ten yards.

SU (1-1) got a 51-yard connection from Tommy DeVito to Taj Harris on the second play of their second drive in the third quarter, then Sean Tucker exploded down the right side for a 24-yard touchdown to knot the game at 7-7. Beyond those two plays, the Syracuse offense struggled mightily. On their other 60 plays from scrimmage, the Orange amassed 183 yards.

That effort let down their defensive mates, who gave up a mere 195 yards on 71 snaps by the Scarlet Knights (2-0). That defensive effort stuffed the Rutgers attack on many occasions (four sacks, allowed only 3-of-15 third down conversions), they were unable to force any turnovers.

SU, meanwhile, gave the ball up three times, including a pair of fumbles. The first was by Taj Harris at the Rutgers six-yard-line on the second Orange possession, likely taking at least three points off the scoreboard, and the latter was a strip-sack of DeVito at the SU 10 in the fourth quarter, gifting the visitors a field goal and making it a two-possession game.

The Syracuse ground game, which was so successful against Ohio in the season opener, struggled to consistently generate yardage. Sean Tucker finished with 13 carries for 54 yards while the whole team had 25 carries for 94 yards (sacks removed).

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Both DeVito and backup Garrett Shrader got snaps, as DeVito opened the game, then Shrader played the second quarter before ceding to DeVito. Both were efficient, but not particularly effective as both sides went scoreless in the opening half. In his postgame press conference, Dino Babers said the decision had been made before the game that Shrader would play.

Babers also had what he said was the first penalty ever called on him in his coaching career in the third quarter. The flag converted a third down for Rutgers and moved the ball to the Orange 11. The Scarlet Knights scored the game’s first points by running for a touchdown on the next play.

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About Jim Stechschulte 714 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.