In a defensive battle on Friday evening, Clemson used its raw talent—and a missed potential game-tying field goal by Andre Szmyt—to escape Syracuse with a win. Here are the biggest takeaways from the Orange’s third straight loss:
#1: The defense continues to be a strength
Syracuse’s third straight loss can’t be pinned on its defense.
The Orange, which game into the game with a top 20 defense in the FBS, only allowed 17 points, and just 323 total yards.
One of those touchdowns, allowed at the end of the second quarter, was more attributable to Syracuse’s special teams, which surrendered a first down on a fake punt that landed the Tigers inside the red zone.
SU’s defense was even more staunch in the second half, allowing just a field goal. The one thing it was missing, however, on its resume was a turnover.
#2: Sean Tucker closes in on 1,000
Another game, another 100 yard rushing effort for Syracuse back Sean Tucker.
Tucker finished with 163 rushing yards on 22 attempts averaging 7.1 yards per carry, accounting for nearly half of Syracuse’s total offense.
The sophomore running back actually went into halftime with 100+ yards before Clemson adjusted its defense to slow down Tucker’s efforts.
Still, Tucker impressed, and for the season, is up to 948 yards. With five games left in the season, he’s already rushed for the 20th best single-season rushing total in program history.
#3: Shrader struggles in the passing game
Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader has established himself as a mobile quarterback, having rushed for more than 100 yards in games against Florida State and Wake Forest.
But against Clemson, Shrader had no such success, rushing just seven times for a combined six yards.
“He averaged .9 (yards a carry),” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We won that matchup. This guy, he’s been running all over everyone. We did a really good job.”
Instead, Clemson dared Shrader to beat their defense through the air, and the results were decidedly mixed.
Shrader completed just 17 of his 37 passes (45.9 percent) for 191 yards.
There were some flashes of brilliance, as he hooked up with Trebor Pena in the fourth quarter for a 62 yard touchdown pass that brought the Orange to within a field goal. But there were also times of frustration, including his red zone interception in the first half, which proved to be the game’s only turnover.
“Disappointment is an understatement,” Shrader said. “There’s no moral victories and we have to get better period.”