A quick take on Syracuse’s 59-0 annihilation of FCS opponent Wagner Saturday night on homecoming weekend in the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse (5-0) won the coin toss, once again elected to receive the kickoff, promptly went down the field in eight plays to score on a Garrett Shrader 1-yard touchdown run, and the rout was on. Wagner (0-4), which dropped its 24th straight game dating back to 2019, was simply overmatched in all three phases of the game. The Orange led 49-0 at intermission before reserves received plenty of playing time in the second half, and the lopsided halftime score led to the mutual decision to shorten the third and fourth quarters to 10-minutes each. Syracuse is off to its best start with the five straight wins since the 1987 team finished 11-0-1.
ANALYSIS: A meeting against a NCAA subdivision opponent with a long losing streak was the perfect remedy to get running back Sean Tucker on track with his best performance of the season. Tucker rushed for a career-high 232-yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 60, 4, and 6 yards in the first half, and he had a 31-yard scoring run called back due to a penalty. Inexplicably, Tucker started the second half and was promptly shaken up, making a quick trip to the medical tent before emerging with a smile on his face and his day completed. Shrader was a perfect 17-of-17 throwing the ball for 238-yards with two touchdown passes (including the first career catch by WR Umari Hatcher) and his early rushing touchdown. Freshman running back LeQuint Allen ran for the first touchdown of his ‘Cuse career and 112-yards overall, including a 90-yard burst. In all, Syracuse recorded 631-yards of total offense.
HERO: Hats off to “The Mob” defense and its “Attack the Ball” philosophy. In addition to sporting the shutout, the Orange “D” held the Seahawks to just two first downs, zero rushing yards, and just two completions for 19-yards in the first half, and only 50-yards of offense overall. Duce Chestnut returned a pick-six for SU’s sixth touchdown, a 28-yard score. Linebacker Leon Lowery stood out in his expanded playing time registering four solo tackles among his seven overall, while Steve Linton recorded two sacks. A negative note, freshman defensive lineman Denis Jacquez Jr. injured his right arm in the second quarter and will seemingly miss significant time the rest of the season.
ZERO: After vowing to clean up the penalties following the win over Virginia eight days ago, the Syracuse coaching staff has some work to do over the next two weeks. The ‘Cuse was flagged for eight penalties, including one in which the Orange was called for having 13 offensive players on the field late in the second quarter, and the illegal block penalty on Orande Gadsden wiped out the Tucker 31-yard touchdown run. Defensive back Rob Hanna was called for targeting on the second half SU kickoff, and he will miss the first half of the next game against North Carolina State (see below). The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on his team following Chestnut’s interception return was a particular sore point for Dino Babers, who once again has to figure out a way to fix the problem of self-inflicted errors.
WHAT’S NEXT: Some time to rest, then keep the momentum going. Syracuse has the week off with its next game coming against No. 10 North Carolina State (4-1, 0-1) in the Dome on Saturday, October 15. Last season, the Wolfpack blitzed SU 41-17 in Raleigh. NCSU played its first ever top 10 matchup against fifth-ranked Clemson Saturday night, falling 30-20 on the road. Game time and TV coverage expected to be announced Monday, October 3.