Saturday afternoon was deja vu all over again for the Syracuse football team. A new year brought new promise and new hope, yet Syracuse football fans were treated to more of the same - a bad loss. An ineffective offense and a defense that tackled poorly, could not force the action, and ultimately wore down, lead to another 3 touchdown beating.
The Orange, lead by hapless Coach Greg Robinson came out of the gate with fire and passion, yet ultimately proved no match for what will no doubt prove to be an average Northwestern team.
Here are a few observations while they are still fresh in my mind, I'll try and suppress the venom that's flowing through my blood.
* Obviously the new offensive philosophy will be to control the game with power running and a west coast style passing game. The good news, the running was better - the bad news, the passing game was a joke.
* Syracuse could not stretch the defense and quarterback Andrew Robinson didn't even attempt a pass of over 15 yards until at least the third, or maybe the 4th quarter.
* Speaking of which, Robinson had a poor game. He was inaccurate, failed to stretch the field and thew one TD pass - to Northwestern defender Brendan Smith. Robinson finished the day with 96 yards passing.
* The receivers were culpable as well, with multiple dropped passes. From my couch it was impossible to tell if guys were open downfield or not. One bright spot, true freshman Marcus Sales caught a pass, and he looks like a promising player.
* The offensive line had a few moments and was improved over last year, but they have not improved enough. Corey Chavers had another rough day, getting a false start penalty in addition to getting beat far more than you want a tackle to.
* All three running backs had their moments, and Curtis Brinkley's touchdown run in the 3rd quarter was terrific. Doug Hogue looks stronger and faster, and Delone Carter proved he's healthy. None of this will matter if SU is playing from behind the whole year.
* The defense started well, and had a few bright spots, including Jared Kimmel forcing a fumble that lead to SU's lone touchdown, however, it didn't take long for the hallmark of Greg Robinson coached teams to appear - missed tackles. Running back Tyrell Sutton racked up 148 yards and you would have thought he was covered in Crisco the way he slid off defenders.
* Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher overcame a slow first half to throw for over 200 yards and 3 tds, as the Wildcats wore down the Orange defenders. By the 4th quarter, SU was gassed and couldn't lay a hand on their opponents.
* As far as coaching goes, they are all culpable, it was a bad day in Chicago. The coup de grace however was when the Orange coaches waived the white flag and punted on 4th down, while in Northwestern terrority in the 4th quarter. Would they have won the game had they went for it? No - but it would have sent a message that they hadn't surrendered.
* After watching that game, it's hard to feel optimistic about this team.
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