A quick take on Syracuse’s 22-20 win over Virginia on Friday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 16-0 at half, Syracuse quickly squandered its lead in the second, as two Virginia touchdowns on consecutive possessions pulled the Cavaliers to within 16-13 midway through the third quarter. UVA would eventually take the lead on a 4th and 4 pass play to make it 20-19 with 5:51 left. But as the Orange did last week, they retook the lead on the final possession. SU marched 11 plays and 62 yards down on the ensuing possession, and Andre Szymt’s 31-yard field goal with 1:14 left put the Orange back ahead for good as Virginia couldn’t advance past its own 47-yard line as time expired.
ANALYSIS: First the good. Syracuse improves to 4-0 on the season, and with a matchup against FCS Wagner next week, it’s nearly certain that SU will open the season 5-0 and need only one more win to clinch a bowl game for the first time since the 2018 season. The Orange defense was stout once again, holding the ‘Hoos to 287 total yards, while also forcing another two turnovers, bringing SU’s takeaways up to 8 on the season. The bad? There was plenty of it. Syracuse came into Friday evening with zero turnovers on the season, but had four unsightly turnovers, three on offense and one on special teams. The Orange also was flagged 12 times for 91 yards, including losing defensive back Justin Barron to a targeting call. SU’s offense also looked completely lost in the second half, scoring only six points.
HERO: Oronde Gadsden II continued his torrid start to the season, and will likely enter opposing team’s scouting reports as the No. 1 WR after hauling in seven receptions for 107 yards. Virginia bracket covered him in the second half, which kept him mostly quiet. Syracuse’s defense also deserves credit for stymying Brennan Armstrong, who threw for just 138 yards and one touchdown and one interception.
ZERO: Syracuse needs to figure out how to unleash Sean Tucker. Virginia was content to stack eight players in the box and not give up anything up the middle. As a result, Tucker rushed for just 60 yards, though he did also have five receptions for 45 yards. OC Robert Anae needs to find ways to get Tucker the ball in space.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse, now with several key injuries across its defense, will look to heal up against FCS Wagner on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the JMA Wireless Dome for SU’s third straight home game.