Sunday, October 2, 2011
Syracuse Pukes on its Own Shoes, Gives Game to Rutgers
Syracuse went to overtime for the third time this season and for the first time did not emerge victorious, fumbling away what should have been a win and losing to Rutgers 19-16. It was easily the most disappointing loss of the Doug Marrone era, as SU outplayed the Scarlet Knights for 60 minutes and kept inventing new ways to literally give the game away.
Since Marrone took over, the only game I think of that was even close to comparable was the loss to Louisville in 2009. That game has a few similarities to this one in that each game was almost unwatchable, and each game had a brutal ending. The biggest shame in the whole thing is the beleaguered, battered SU defense rose up and had its best performance of the year, only to have the offense and special teams piss the game away.
The loss hurts even more because Syracuse really needed it to stay on track for a second consecutive bowl appearance. At this point, the only team in the Big East the Orange are definitively better than is UConn. Frankly, they are better than Rutgers, but that won't be reflected in the standings and it's an opportunity lost in a season where the margin for error is razor thin. Let's get to what we know.
What We Thought: The Syracuse special teams would be better in 2011 than 2010.
What We Know: Not so much. Ross Krautman had an extra point and a field goal blocked and the Orange were bailed out on what would have been a return TD by penalty. The short snapping is inconsistent and Krautman also missed a FG. It almost makes you long for the days of Bob Casullo. Almost.
What We Thought: Antwon Bailey was finding his stride and becoming a true feature back.
What We Know: At this point Antwon Bailey is mid-career Tiki Barber. He can get you yards, but he can't secure the football. Bailey fumbled on the first play of the game and the last play of the game. He's lost 3 fumbles in 5 games. Frankly that should earn a player a trip to the bench. I don't give a rats ass that there isn't a viable alternative. If you consistently put the ball on the ground, you shouldn't consistently touch the football.
What We Thought: Ryan Nassib was getting better every week.
What We Know: Not this week. Three picks were obviously bad, but the fashion in which he threw them was really tough to watch. It's tough to throw interceptions on screen passes, it's not like defensive lineman have the hands of Jerry Rice. He wasn't helped by another heaping helping of ultra-conservative play calling.
What We Thought: Syracuse was going to have a dynamic, multiple offense
What We Know: Regardless of personnel, Doug Marrone is going to run the ball and work the short passing game. By the end of the game Rutgers was sitting on short slants and jumping routes left and right. The couldn't, or wouldn't, test them by pushing the ball down the field. Teams watch film, expect more and more teams to focus on taking away the short passing game.
What We Thought: The defense wasn't very good, and doesn't force turnovers.
What We Knew: The entire unit proved that statement wrong. Dyshawn Davis was a beast this game and the entire unit gave the SU offense multiple opportunities to win this game. The defense forced 4 turnovers, scored a TD and forced Rutgers to switch quarterbacks. They held the Scarlet Knights to 5 yards rushing, This loss is 100% on the other two units . It was an especially impressive performance given the fact that the unit played without its top two players in Chandler Jones and Sharmarko Thomas.
The Bottom Line: Syracuse was the better team and Syracuse pissed away a win. There's a good chance it will come back and haunt them as the season goes on. There's 7 games left and all we can hope is that the team uses this performance as motivation - because good God we could all use some motivation after that mess.