|A lot of people dressed like empty seats watched SU v. Toledo on Saturday|
What We Thought: Ryan Nassib has made huge strides from last year.
What We Know: In my opinion, Ryan Nassib is the best player on this team. Period. He's in total command of the offense, he's now buying time in the pocket with his feet which is allowing his receivers to get open and make plays. Both TD throws were things of beauty, especially the toss to Provo in the first half. Nassib was flushed left from the pocket, keeping his eyes down field he rolled to let Provo get behind the defense before delivering a perfect touch pass. It's a play he wouldn't have made last year.
He's accurate and confident. I want to see the coaches put the ball in his hands and allow him to make even more plays. We will get to that in a minute.
What We Thought: Van Chew and Alec Lemon, who are both playing well, would take approximately 97% of the snaps at wide receiver.
What We Know: Jarrod West got his first real chance to make an impact and he did, stretching the field and hauling in two passes for 56 yards. In addition, while he didn't get any balls thrown his way, freshman Kyle Foster saw some action as well.
What We Thought: The Syracuse secondary is young and beat up.
What We Know: I have to assume that it was a lack of bodies, but when Toledo spread the field, SU never countered with extra defensive backs. Part of the problem was cornerback Ri'Shard Anderson went down with yet another injury. It's not his fault and most likely there's nothing he can do about it, but the guy is officially injury prone. You can't count on him to stay on the field and not get hurt.
What We Thought: The Syracuse linebackers are small.
What We Know: Siriki Diabate played extensively in this one, spelling Marquis Spruill in the middle and while he didn't stand out one way or the other, what I couldn't get over is how small he looked out there. He's listed at 5'10", 210 pounds. If he's 210, he was standing on the scale with rocks in his pockets.
What We Thought: People in Syracuse don't have much of an interest in showing up to watch this team.
What We Know: People in Syracuse don't have much of an interest in showing up and watching this team. The announced crowd of 39,116 was inflated by at least 8 grand. I might go into this more in-depth this week, but the picture above was taken halfway through the first quarter. Frankly we don't have very good fans.
What We Thought: Doug Marrone and Nathanial Hacket want to run an offense that looks like the New Orleans Saints.
What We Know: In the first half the offense did look like the Saints, in the second half it looked like the 2010 Syracuse offense. I really thought Hacket and Marrone got way too conservative with the play calling after half. Ryan Nassib is playing at an extremely high level. The defense isn't very good. SU is going to need to score a lot of points to win games this year. I don't think grinding it out is necessarily the answer.
Consider this according to the play by play, in the first half, SU called 4 run plays and 4 pass plays on first down. In the second half and overtime, on first down the Orange had 9 rushes and 2 passes. The play-calling worked, but its not exactly something you see when Drew Brees and the Saints take the field. The way Nassib was throwing the ball, I think SU could have scored 40 against the Rockets.
What We Thought: Syracuse would miss Chandler Jones.
What We Know: Syracuse really misses Chandler Jones. For a team that likes to harass the quarterback, the Orange aren't getting nearly enough pressure on the the opposing team -- especially from the defensive line. If the D is going to improve, they will need Chandler back, and the other guys on the line to starting winning individual battles. With a linebacking corps that is young and inexperienced, the big guys up front need to create more pressure.
The Bottom Line: This wasn't ever going to be an easy game. Toledo is good, they were rested and SU was returning from a cross country trip. While the blown call was horrible and really screwed Toledo, Syracuse made enough plays to win. A third of the way through his third season head Coach, Doug Marrone is once again over .500 with a 15-14 career record. With a defense that's young, banged up and frankly not very good, SU is going to have to outscore people to win games and they scored enough on Saturday. Buckle up Orange fans, It's going to be a wild ride -- the Toledo game certainly proved it. Rutgers is next to open up conference play. Go Orange.