A quick take on Syracuse’s 31-7 win over Louisville in its 2022 opener at the JMA Wireless Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 17-7 late in the third quarter, Syracuse forced its second turnover of the evening, with Derrick McDonald intercepting Malik Cunningham and returning it to the Cardinals’ 13. Four plays later, Orange QB Garrett Shrader found a wide open Oronde Gadsden II for an eight-year touchdown to put SU up 24-7. The Orange forced its third turnover on a fumble on the ensuing possession, and Shrader punched it in with a six yard run seven plays later to take a commanding 31-7 lead with 8:40 to go. That allowed the Orange to begin the season with a surprising lopsided win against a team that had initially been favored by 4.5 points.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse debuted its new look offense under new offensive coordinator Robert Anae, and it proved to be everything SU had been missing since its 10-win 2018 season. With a perfect balance between running (40 attempts) and passing (26), Syracuse moved the ball consistently against Louisville, racking up 449 yards. Shrader in particular enjoyed the benefits of Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck, as he completed 18 of 25 passes for 237 yards and a pair of scores, throwing confidently and having complete command of the offense. However, the loss was not without its cost, as fullback Chris Elmore and Stefon Thompson both suffered what appeared to be significant lower body injuries. Both were in street clothes by game’s end.
HERO: Sean Tucker launched his Heisman campaign in celebratory fashion, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown, and adding 85 more yards through the air with a score. But for as good as the tandem of Tucker and Shrader was, SU’s defense was equally as impressive. They forced Cunningham into two interceptions and a fumble, and the Cardinals could only muster 334 yards, and was held scoreless after the first quarter. That allowed the Orange to dominate time of possession 32:31 to 27:20.
ZERO: The flags flew early and often for the Orange, mostly as the result of an offensive line that looked unsure of Anae’s system of multiple offensive sets, substitutions and pre-snap shifts. Syracuse committed 18 penalties for 107 yards.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to Connecticut on Saturday, Sept. 10 for a 7 p.m. kickoff. TV: CBS Sports Network.