Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reality Check: Syracuse Washington Observations

Last week the Syracuse Orange punished the Akron Zips, winning 29-3. The win gave the team and its fans needed hope. While a good season is still very much a possibility, for all the hope that the Akron game gave us, the 41-20 loss to Washington was a reality check. This program is improving, but the road back to the top of the Big East will not be a smooth one.

After jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead, the Orange were outscored 41-10 the rest of the way. Washington was simply a better team. And for what it's worth, Akron lost to Gardner-Webb this weekend -- I'd be shocked if that team wins a game all year. So the Zips are probably a little worse than we thought and the Huskies are certainly better.

The Orange return home to back to back games against 1-AA opponents and frankly, they are coming at the right time. We'll have a humbled team that's ready to improve and a couple of opponents who should provide ample opportunities to do so. Let's get to a few observations:

- I don't want to kill these guys, they are all out there busting their asses, but Da'Mon Merkerson was awful. I can live with getting beat in coverage, that happens to everyone, but in the second half Washington ran right at him, and he got run over or blown out of the play time and time again.

- The offensive line isn't where it needs to be. Both tackles are struggling and while everyone his high on Justin Pugh, he has not played up to expectations yet. This team will need Pugh and right tackle Michael Hay to progress quickly as the season goes along.

- I'd really like to see Antwon Bailey more involved in the game plan moving forward. He's a dynamic guy who adds an element of speed to the offense and I think he needs 12-15 touches a game at a minimum. He reminds me a little of a healthy Brian Westbrook, he's a versatile guy that can create mismatches on the edges. Hopefully he's used more as the season progresses.

- After a sure-handed performance last week, the WRs dropped some catchable balls out there. Aaron Weaver had an especially rough day. He needs to eliminate those, or we need to see what Marcus Sales can do.

- However, Van Chew turned in another outstanding performance. He's the team's best receiver and a legitimate deep threat. Watching him develop before our eyes is a treat. Likewise, Alec Lemon is a solid complement on the other side.

- It was good to see Delone Carter pound the ball in the second half, it would have been much nicer with a lead.....

- Chandler Jones, Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith all stood out on the defensive side of the ball. Marcus Spruill showed some potential as well.

- Say whatever you want about Jake Locker and the Heisman, after watching that game I know this, Syracuse won't face a better quarterback all year. He's obviously mobile, but was much more accurate than I've seen him. You can't fault an NFL team for salivating over a guy with a big time arm and some very quick feet.

- While last year a lot of us were sick to death of the screen game, I didn't see any tonight, even in the face of intense pressure. 50 bubble screens a game are bad, but a well executed screen mixed in now and then - especially to a guy like Bailey, can be effective.

- Warren Moon is possibly the worst announcer in the history of football. He treats his wife better than he treats the viewers. He couldn't even pronounce Ryan Nassib's name correctly, which is kind of important since he has the ball in his hands on every offensive play. He makes Joe Theismann sound competent - and that's nearly impossible.

- Speaking of which, Ryan Nassib wasn't bad - he endured some drops, but was under pressure all night. One thing he absolutely, positively needs to work on is ball security. He is putting it on the ground entirely too much.

- I absolutely hated, hated, hated, hated the punt down 21 with 5 minutes to go. Were they going to win the game? Of course not. However, just waving the white flag and giving up makes me mental. There's no difference between a 21 and a 28 point loss. Go for it on fourth down and try and give your offense some more work. Did I mention that I hated that call?

- The bottom line, Syracuse needed to play a clean game and limit mistakes and turnovers to win. They didn't do that - but there's still a lot of season to be played, and they stand a very good chance of heading into October 3-1, and that's not too bad.


Poncho Sinatra said...

I will take a 3-1 record into mid October anytime. Albeit, a very "soft" 3-1 record. I believe Washington will do well in the Pac-10 this year which will only help us in the long run.

I'm growing out my back hair for the Black Bears next weekend in 'Cuse. Bring on tailgating!

Brian Harrison said...

I'm glad someone else caught that Da'Mon was simply TERRIBLE.

orange70 said...

Just a comment about Da'Mon. He has been moved and put into game situation under several coordinators. My guess is he practices better then he comes out for game day...which I suspect indicates that he has the skills. My guess is that he does not yet react well to game day.(kinda late considering his class...)Due to injuries and his practice performance he probably is the best we have. Let's hope he doesn't read these blogs and can get his head in the game.

Russianator said...

Regarding Merkerson - I know he's been jerked around from position to position and I know he's working hard out there. He had a very good game against Akron and we are certainly thin at the CB spot. He's long and rangy, he could be very good. The fact of the matter is he had a bad game, it happens. I'm sure he heard worse than this blog in the film room and on the sidelines from the coaching staff.

The next two weeks are great opportunities for Da'Mon and the entire Orange to bounce back and really execute - we're pulling for them.

Anonymous said...

Point taken.