Sunday, October 9, 2011

Syracuse Loses to Tulane, Wins 37-34

Photo: Frank OrdoƱez / The Post-Standard
Like Doug Marrone, we are wondering what the hell happened too
The Syracuse Orange went down to New Orleans and beat a terrible Tulane team 37-34.  The game should have never been that close.  The Orange raced out to a 31-14 lead and then stopped executing on both sides of the ball.  The game was played in front of approximately 12 fans and 9 of them were wearing Orange. You have to give SU fans credit for turning out - on TV all you could see were empty seats and Orange shirts.  Let's get to some observations and then put this piece of garbage performance in the rear view mirror.

What We Thought: Deuce McAllister was a retired running back who had a nice career in the NFL.
What We Know: Deuce McAllister is a 400 pound, 65 year old football analyst working for Cox Sports.  Seriously, Deuce looked really old, really fat and I'm pretty sure they passed a mirror under his nose at halftime to see if he was still breathing. Deuce was less than animated doing color commentary, although he did set the record for saying "you know" in a broadcast.  Oh we know Deuce, we know.

What We Thought: Football television broadcasts have made quantum leaps forward over the past 10 years, with the exception of the Fox Robot.
What We Know: While we were happy to be able to watch the game, we learned Cox Sports laughs at new fangled things like "High Definition," "first down lines," "replays," and "down and distance graphics."  There was a high school football game on another channel at the same time -- it was in HD and it was better produced.  If Cox Sports was a dog, it would be put down for humane reasons. Champ said it best - Cox Sports in the John Marinatto of regional sports networks.

We We Thought: The defense had turned the corner with a strong performance  last week against Rutgers.
What We Know: The defense has major, major issues.  There's no way to sugar coat this - the performance  Saturday night was  abysmal.  Tulane had 471 yards of offense.  SE Louisiana held them to nearly a 100 less yards than that.  Army held them to 199 yards -- and Army gave up 503 yards to freaking Miami of Ohio yesterday. It was a comedy of errors that included missed tackles, defensive backs being totally lost in coverage, and a complete lack of pressure on the quarterback. If the D repeats that performance against West Virginia, they will give up 800 yards. 

What We Thought: The offensive line would be the strength of the team.
What  We Know: The offensive line isn't that good.  My senior year of high school I had a history teacher ask me how our basketball team was looking.  We had went 3-17 the year before but I thought we'd be better.  I responded that we had a lot of experience coming back and we'd be better.  He looked me in the eye and said experience is nice, but experience alone doesn't always help.  He was right, we went 4-16.  The point is this SU line is experienced,  but they are far from the dominant group we were hoping for.  They are adequate in the run game and still struggle in pass protection.  And Michael Hay had a particularly brutal game.  We'd be willing to bet that if Sean Hickey hadn't blown out his knee in pre-season camp, he'd be playing right tackle now.

What We Thought: The offense was going to carry the team.
What We Know: The offensive scheme is unimaginative, conservative and when there is an opportunity to make a big play, the players aren't executing. Antwon Bailey bounced back with a solid game, beyond that I don't know what Hacket and Marrone are trying to do.  The passing game consists almost exclusively of TE drags, shallow wide receiver crosses and roll outs that result in 2 yard passes to the fullbacks.  Marrone challenged his receivers to step up this week and other than Dorian Graham, no one did.  On the play on the last drive when Tulane was called for roughing the passer, Nassib threw a beautiful ball that sailed clean through Van Chew's hands.

We don't have access to the coaches tape so I have no idea if WRs aren't open or if Nassib isn't throwing to them, but there's virtually no pass plays outside the hash marks.  Everything is either a crossing route or a TE in the seam.  In the first half the Orange tried to test Tulane deep, but miss fired on about about 4 go routes.  After that, I don't think Nassib threw a pass over 15 yards.

What We Thought: Ryan Nassib was having a great junior year.
What We Know: Last week he struggled against Rutgers, but those things happen.  This week he didn't turn the ball  over against Tulane, but Ryan missed a bunch of open guys and was trying to throw fastballs on every play.  He seemed too pumped up.  With an offense that is this conservative, he needs to be more accurate.

The Bottom Line: At the halfway point in the season, Syracuse is 4-2 and headed into a much needed bye week.  The win over Wake Forest looks more and more impressive, the win over Toledo will look very good at the end of the year and the loss to Rutgers is more understandable. The Orange now have two weeks to try and get their acts together and prepare for West Virginia.  The  good news is that the tam's best defender Chandler Jones should be back and the week off will give a banged up team time to get healthy.   Marrone and Scott Shafer will have two weeks to game plan for the Big East's best time.

The second half of the season has winnable games against Louisville and UConn, plus games against unpredictable Pitt and USF. There are plenty of opportunities ahead to get to second consecutive bowl game, but it's up to the Orange to seize them.  They certainly didn't seize anything Saturday night.


Anonymous said...

Great Post as always Neph.

That was an absolutely horrible performance by the Cuse but a win is a win. We seem to play to the level of the opposition. Luckily there are no style points in football.

Uncle Dave

Anonymous said...

Understand the optimism but you are crazy. Tulane has been garbage since Shaun King became a crappy NFL QB. A win over Toledo especially on a outright corrupt call is garbage. The Wake win looks good if you forget that SU was getting worked till the QB went down. Rhode Island once had a scrappy BB team. WVU will crush them with a modern day offense. Think Pittsburgh is a loss even though they suck. Should beat UCONN, great hire by the AD with Coach P. S. Fla. another loss. Think Cinci is a better team. Louisville seems like a toss up. Marrone will survive by sacrificing Hackett (is having a Hackett on your staff ever a good idea) but the program seems to have taken a step back. If Marron e never coached Brees would he be our coach? Get the Pirate, buy out Marrone. Read his book and learn about the guy.