Here are the main takeaways from Syracuse’s second straight loss, this time to Notre Dame:
Notre Dame’s rush-heavy offense wears out Orange defense
The Notre Dame offense behind QB Drew Pyne has been streaky. Averaging just over 26 points a game, the Irish rank 82nd in the country on offense.
And that’s exactly what Pyne was on Saturday. He completed just 47.4% of his passes for 116 yards and threw an interception late in the second quarter.
Instead, the Irish scored 15 more points than their season average by running the ball. Notre Dame finished with 246 rushing yards to just 61 yards for Syracuse on the ground. Sophomore RB Audric Estime led the way with 124 rushing yards and two TDs.
“We just ran out of guys, we only have so many,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “They kept putting that ball in there and unless you’re gonna match scores with them on offense or get out in front of them where they can’t play that style, that is exactly the style they should play. And they did play it.”
Garrett Shrader’s struggles continue
Garrett Shrader completed just 18 of his 26 passes for 167 yards against Clemson. That carried into Saturday, as on the first play of the game, Shrader threw a pick-six on a bad throw intended for Oronde Gadsden.
In the first half, Shrader was 5-14 with just 35 passing yards and struggled with his mobility in the pocket, as he seemed hobbled by a leg injury. By halftime, Shrader was out with an injury and redshirt freshman Carlos Del Rio-Wilson took over under helm down 21-7.
The change at QB sparked the Syracuse offense, as Del Rio-Wilson was 11-22 and threw for 190 yards as SU pulled to within 24-17 at one point.
But Del Rio-Wilson threw a backbreaking interception, and Notre Dame immediately converted. They followed that with a blocked punt that put the Irish up three scores, and the game out of reach.
“I don’t take losses, I take lessons,” Del Rio-Wilson said. “Tomorrow we will go over film to see what we can do better to get ready for Pitt.”
Where does Syracuse go from here?
Despite the two-game losing streak, the Orange are still 6-2 and are still in good position to make an upper tier bowl game come December/January.
“I’m disappointed about the loss,” Babers said. “But I still feel good about this football team.”
The losses came to two teams that were well regarded at the start of the season. As for Clemson, they are still No. 5 in the country and have not lost a game yet this season.
While Notre Dame came in unranked, they started the preseason as the fifth-ranked team and have won four of their last five games.
“I told the guys that we just have to stay together,” Syracuse LB Mikel Jones said. “Stay together and to not switch anything up. Whether we win or lose we cant switch it up. Stay to Syracuse, and that has been winning games despite this loss.”