Instant Juice: Syracuse 14, Clemson 17

Dino Babers
Syracuse head coach Dino Babers looks on from the sidelines. Mandatory Photo Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

A quick take on Syracuse’s frustrating 17-14 loss to Clemson on Friday evening at the Carrier Dome:

WHAT HAPPENED: Down 17-14 with a 4th and 1 from the 30 yard line and 43 seconds remaining, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers opted for a field goal, trotting out Andre Szmyt for a potential game-tying field goal. But the attempt was short and wide left, capping another disappointing week for the Orange where they were within striking distance, but ultimately could not defeat another ACC opponent. The Oarnge trailed 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter, and pulled to within a field goal after Garrett Shrader found Trebor Pena for a 62-yard strike for a touchdown. But the Orange played their own worst enemy to itself by getting flagged 8 times for 83 yards and losing the turnover battle, as Shrader’s lone interception was the only turnover of the night. Syracuse also got caught sleeping on a fake punt late in the second quarter that allowed Clemson to score a touchdown before heading into halftime.

ANALYSIS: Another week, another close game, and another disappointment for the Orange. Like in games against Florida State (33-30) and Wake Forest (40-37), Syracuse puts itself in a position to win, only to falter when the game is on the line. The Orange has now lost three straight since starting the season 3-1, all by a combined nine points. At this point in the season, Syracuse knows what it is. It is a team with a top 25 defense, and an offense that relies heavily on the run game. Opposing teams have noticed, and Clemson did all it could to limit the Syracuse rushing attack. While Tucker went off for another 100+ yard game (more on that below), the Tigers paid careful attention to not allow Shrader to escape from the pocket, as he only had seven rushes for a combined six yards. With its new style of play, the Orange should be competitive in every game it plays down the stretch, but until it eliminates mental mistakes and poor execution, the wins, unfortunately, may not follow.

HERO: There is no earthly reason why Sean Tucker should not wear the vaunted No. 44 at this point. Tucker is in line to break the 1,000 yard mark for the season after another stellar performance, as he finished with 22 carries for 157 yards.

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ZERO: It was that kind of game, as Will Spiers (349 punting yards) and James Williams (279), nearly had more punt yards than the two teams had offense. Shrader was wildly inconsistent with his throws for most of the evening, finishing with 191 passing yards and one touchdown. But taking out the Pena throw for 62 yards, Shrader was mostly ineffective as a passing QB.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to Virginia Tech on Saturday to take on the Hokies for a 12:30 p.m. start. TV: ACC Network.

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About Wes Cheng 2694 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.