Syracuse fans are popping alka-seltzer for heart burn today after a spectacular opening night win, which also left some lingering concerns. After a terrible start, negative tweets were flying, panic was rising and the Dome was dead quiet. But after some help from from a stumbling Wake Forest team and facing a backup QB, the Orange mounted a furious rally and staged a dramatic comeback win.
Despite emphasizing the importance of winning at home this season, Doug Marrone’s crew came out flat and was dominated by the Deacons and their passing game in the first half. Here are the three biggest concerns from the victory.
- Sluggish offensive start
Other than a lone touchdown drive, SU’s other six early possessions were all 3-and-outs. The much scrutinized Ryan Nassib didn’t look comfortable in the pocket despite given time to throw. The Dougie wasn’t happy with the first half offensive productivity.
“We haven’t played a game in 265 days, so you learn from it. The players will get excited about it, but they’ll come back and we have a long way to go. We never want to start like that. There were a bunch of three-and-outs, and at one time it was 42-45 plays to 19. You can’t do that, especially early in the year. That’s not the way we want it.”
The Orange responded though, with a spectacular second half aided in part by Wake starter Tanner Price going down. The SU offense made big plays and Van Chew seemed to emerge as a clear go-to receiver. Marrone thought it was only a matter of time until it clicked:
“We just caught them. Honestly, they were pressuring the heck out of us. They came out and pressured us, zero pressure, and we were looking to make a play on the perimeter. We had some leakage in the protection and then all of a sudden we had some big plays. That’s how it is.”
- Questionable clock management
DM elected to burn his last timeouts with over 7 minutes left and down only one possession (plus a two-point conversion). This ended up being a non-issue because of the win, but the Orange easily could have needed those stoppages late in the game. The Orange ran out of timeouts last year vs. Louisville in a game it lost. Not reason to panic, but it was debatable management.
- Linebacker struggles
We figured the ‘backers would take time to gel and the unit certainly showed its youth, unable to make plays early and leaving a heavy tackling burden on the safeties. This resulted in too many deep pass plays, which other teams could easily exploit if it’s not corrected.
Despite the concerns the Orange stole a win at home, one it desperately wanted having lost all of its home games to FBS teams last year. Encouragingly, the offense exploded in the second half and Chew emerged as a true number one. The Dougie and co. has plenty it can correct, but SU found a win when it seemed lost.
Posted: Alex Plavin