Sunday, October 10, 2010

Syracuse Football Goes on the Road, Puts Big East on Notice!


On a hot and sunny Saturday in Tampa, Florida, the Syracuse Orangemen pulled off a stunning victory. Lead by their defense who only surrendered 3 points, Syracuse kept holding on until Ryan Nassib found Marcus Sales for a 4 yard touchdown pass with 7:15 left in the 4th quarter. The score gave Syracuse the lead 13-9, and they would not look back.

The game started out in a defensive stalemate. First quarter ended 0-0 with Syracuse having only run 10 offensive plays for 21 yards and 1 first down. At half time the score was tied 3-3. As good as the defense looked for Syracuse, their special teams and offense were going nowhere quickly.

Special teams for both sides made costly plays in the second quarter to jeopardize their teams outcome. First the Orangemen defense came onto the field and forced USF three and out with 9:01 left to play in the first half. After a punt by USF, the ball bounced at the Syracuse 36 yard line, striking Syracuse junior safety Olando Fisher. The ball was recovered by South Florida inside Syracuse territory.

The ensuing drive would push the Bulls down to the Syracuse 24 yard line. After the cuse defense held again, USF lined up for a field goal try with 6:04 left and made it. However the Bulls had a special teams disaster of their own, and were penalized 5 yards on a false start. The kick, this time from 47 yards out, missed and the score remained tied 3-3.

Mistakes and penalties would continue to mount for Syracuse as the first half winded down. Syracuse would take the ball down to the USF 20 yard line and faced a 4th and 1 with 1:27 left in the half. With two capable running backs on the team, Doug Marrone opted to give the ball to full back Adam Harris, who rushed for no gain. Harris had just 3 carries on the year. Marrone would lose a challenge for the spot of the ball, and USF took over at their own 20. The score would stay knotted at 3-3 at half time.

To open the second half, Syracuse put together a solid drive. Delone Carter and Ryan Nassib steered the team down field. Syracuse's offense again couldn't find the end zone, and were held to a 41 yard Ross Krautman FG which gave the Orangemen their first lead of the game.

The lead would be short lived. On the kickoff following the SU field goal, Lindsey Lamar of USF caught the ball at the 6 yard line and burned past the Orange special teams unit for a 94 yard touchdown run to give the bulls the 9-6 lead. Ensuing field goal would be blocked by Syracuse's coverage unit, and the score remained 9 to 6. Special teams execution was defining the afternoon.

The score would stay 9-6 when Syracuse got the ball on their own 2 yard line with 13:49 left in the game. With hopes for an Orangemen victory looking increasingly dim, Ryan Nassib, Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey would put together quite possibly the defining drive of the season. The trio would bring Syracuse to first and goal just 4 yards of short of the end zone. With 7:22 left on the game clock, Ryan Nassib found Marcus Sales (back from the dead!) for a 4 yard touch down pass giving Syracuse a 13-9 lead. The drive was the longest on the season for the Orangemen, 14 plays for 98 yards and the cuse would now turn to their defense to hold onto the game.

As they did all afternoon, the Syracuse defense would stop the next two drives by the Bulls giving Syracuse the ball as time wound down. Doug Marrone and the Orangemen pulled off a win that felt impossible to achieve the last five seasons, on the road, in the football recruiting hotbed of Florida. One can not say enough about the Syracuse defense. The unit made USF QB BJ Daniels look like a lost little boy all afternoon. Intercepting him twice, sacking Daniels 4 times, and being held to just 9 completions in 23 passing attempts for 124 yards 0 TDs.

The Bulls' rushing attack didn't fair much better. Moise Plancher would finish the day with 58 rushing yards on 15 carries, and Demetris Murray was held to just 38 yards rushing. On the day USF rushed for just 95 combined yards, giving the Bulls just 219 yards total on the day to go along with just 3 points (not including the special teams kickoff return for a touch down).

Max Suter lead Syracuse's defense with 8 tackles (six of them solo, three for a loss), a forced fumble and a sack. Shamarko Thomas had 6 tackles, Jeremi Wilkes and Da'Mon Merkerson each recorded an interception of Daniels, and Shamarko Thomas, Brandon Sharpe, and Mike Holmes each recorded a sack as well. Chandler Jones, Andrew Lewis and Doug Hogue each recorded five tackles. Syracuse's defense hasn't looked as confident as they did Saturday since the early 2000s. Every time they took the field, they had a look like they weren't going to surrender. Every time they were called on to make a big play, they responded.

Game Notes from the win at USF:
  • First question, have ANY of you EVER seen a false start in the victory formation? The team is taking a knee to run out the clock and Syracuse takes a false start penalty. Shocking!
  • Syracuse had 12 penalties for 87 yards. Unacceptable.
  • Michael Hay (#74) continues to be completely lost on the offensive line.
  • Delone Carter rushed for 105 yards on 26 carries. This Moves Carter past Syracuse Legend Ernie Davis for 10th on the All-time rushing list. Next up is Damien Rhodes with 2,461 yards.
  • Antwon Bailey continues to contribute in a big way. Bailey finished the day with 81 yards on 9 carries and 3 catches for 48 yards. 129 total yards on the day. I think its safe to say Bailey needs to be on the field!
  • Quick question: why doesn't Syracuse ever go with the split back formation with their two dynamic runners?
  • Too many dropped passes on 3rd and long.
Next week Syracuse will host the University of Pittsburgh on homecoming weekend. Many people this week will try to tell you that this weekend is "Orange Central," but don't fool yourselves. It's homecoming. Orangemen fans from all over the Syracuse area will be required to attend this game. Syracuse is coming back to the Dome 4-1 on the year, in sole possession of first place in the Big East, and off the biggest win for the program since they beat the Fightin' Irish in South Bend in 2008. Best start since 1999. If those aren't enough reasons to get you to the Dome Saturday, I think we need to send a doctor over to your home because you might need to be admitted to a local area hospital. Upon release, GO TO THE GAME!

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