The Fizz 5: What Needs to Change For Syracuse Heading to UConn

Here is The Fizz’s weekly look at the 5 critical elements of the SU game.

That smell is the stinker SU laid in Lousiville that by now has spread to all regions of Orange Nation and might be stuck in your nostrils for awhile. Even a win at UConn may not erase the memory of a hideous performances that conjured up images of the Groobers Error. It was made worse with the memory of a flawless performance against West Virginia. What changed? This week’s Fizz 5:

  • The offense had a complete and total systematic failure.

It all starts with the quarterback. Last week we praised Ryan Nassib for the kind of performance against WVU we knew he was capable of. He was cool and comfortable in the pocket. This week? He flat out sucked. No way around it. He was back in the bad habit of moving around the pocket and never setting his feet. Nassib actually took some shots down field, but the deep ball is one of his most inefficient plays. The signal-caller received zero help from his offensive line. This was allegedly the same line that dominated the Mountaineers and gave up no negative plays, but maybe it was a group of walk-ons dressed in starter’s jerseys for Halloween. The wide outs didn’t help either. When Nassib did have time, he couldn’t find an open WR. Paging Marcus Sales! The play-calling also returned to garbage. Not nearly enough draws and screens to offset UofL’s pressure.

  • The defense continues to give up big plays.

Even against WVU, the Orange secondary gave up a few big gains. SU didn’t wait very long to give up another Saturday. After pinning Louisville inside its own 5, Syracuse let Teddy Bridgewater outside the pocket and a reciever run free. It was a huge gain and a few plays later Keon Lyn got toasted for a 42-yard touchdown and the Cardinals were off.

Simply put, this secondary isn’t very good at corner. Scott Shafer is going to continue to put his corners on islands and it’s up to them to step up. They just might not be capable. There’s one player The Fizz would like to see, but he may not have a chance to help. Who?

  • Ritchy Desir, who isn’t practicing well enough to get on the field.

Everything we’ve ever heard about the freshman from Miami is out of this world. Everything we’ve ever seen has matched. Why isn’t he playing? Larry Bluestein, recruiting czar of Florida, told The Fizz Desir will one day “be on the cover of Syracuse’s season preview in a superman shirt.” A few weeks later we watched him in a scrimmage and were blown away as he picked off passes and laid multiple huge hits. He’s been one of Syracuse’s best special teams players this year in kick coverage. Yet, with a secondary struggling, the only time Desir finds the field is in four-safety sets when one of the other players hurt. We heard all camp how well he was playing at corner. Yet, in garbage time it was Brandon Reddish getting the snaps at CB against Louisville. Desir would play corner, safety or any position (he played QB in HS) you asked. He understands the game. He’s an impact player on a defense with a need for another one.

So why isn’t he playing? The only conclusion is he must not be practicing as well as Reddish at the corner spot and Marrone/Shafer must think that Lyn, Kevyn Scott and Ri’Shard Anderson are better options. But after this game, you have to wonder if they’ll make some sort of change.

  • Syracuse’s punt return team is useless.

Another area we’d like to see Desir is on punt returns team because Steve Rene isn’t cutting it. If Rene catches the ball, he does so after waiving his hand high above his head for a fair catch. Blocking certainly needs to be better, but both Desir and Prince-Tyson Gulley were able to get decent returns off earlier this season. Amazingly, those two plays count for half of SU’s punt yardage on the year. The Orange has an astounding 32 punt return yards total. Seventeen are from Rene, eight by Desir, seven, for Tyson-Gulley. With PTG out for the year and Rene ineffective, switch it up. SU knows first hand how much a big return can help. Dorian Graham’s score vs. West Virginia was the turning point in the game.

  • Syracuse doesn’t know how to handle success.

We talked on Fizz Radio Saturday morning how last year’s Orange struggled after big wins. Beat USF, get demolished by Pitt. Go on the road and beat West Virginia, come back and get dismantled by UConn and BC. It’s a problem Marrone apparently hasn’t fixed. After the huge win Friday night everyone told the Orange how great it was. Voices, including The Fizz, talked about being the favorite in the Big East. Louisville isn’t that good yet. Charlie Strong continues to crush the recruiting trail, but the Cards have a ways to go. Yet Syracuse just got manhandled.

Learning how to win is a process. We’re still only three years removed from the Groobers dumpster fire and a mere two years from the Greg Paulus experiment. This team hasn’t been successful for very long. SU hasn’t learned how to shed big wins yet, because even the veterans have experienced so few of them. But winning is becoming more frequent on the Hill, so the excuse becomes less relevant with every week. Right now each win is a little too rewarding. Knowing how to handle a win will happen eventually, just not yet.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

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12 Comments on this Post

  1. Punt returns are not merely about the return player. It’s a matter of blocking for a return. It isn’t happening at Syracuse for far too manny game since Doug started here. Its the responsibility of the special teams coach to teach and deploy It doesn’t happen by chance out there Very few punt return players can do anything on their own. After securing the ball with the catch, he needs a block to give him at least two steps and then more blocks up the field Maybe and only maybe a significant return can occur.

  2. Also realize that NCAA punters are not NFL punters that continuously get 50 yards under their kicks, giving more time for guys to get up field. If teams aren’t kicking far, there isn’t going to be any reason to return. That’s why there are so few big plays from the punt at the college level.

  3. I was sure to mention blocking, but there’s something about Rene too. On the kicks that Gully and Desir fielded, there were returns. Rene never tries. Certainly he has to be given a chance thanks to a returnable kick and blocking in front, but you also have to take a chance every once in a while, slip the first tackle and go.

  4. desir caught one as the upman and him and gulley had two between them. hardly a sample size to say that other people should do it like them.

    especially gulley who muffed more kicks then he caught last year.

  5. I want to apologize to all the readers and staff at the Fizz for changing the subject here,but I just read that David Perkins has just reopened his recruitment. The Fizz (after he committed to Notre Dame) has always told us that they didn’t think that he would stick with Notre Dame and would rethink his decision.
    Well guys you were right all along. Does that mean that Syracuse has a good chance of getting a strong kid like David Perkins? I’d love to see him play here at Syacuse. What are our chances?

  6. I recall a number of receivers open down field during the game. Ryan couldn’t find them and when he did couldn’t hit them. It’s all on Nassib.

  7. Perkins is in fact back on the market with no favorites at this time.

  8. he has favorites… with lower academic standard would be a help

  9. Its not all on Nessib. HCDM got out coached. Don’t forget that either!!

  10. zetabeta5

    Draws and screens,,,,,Draws and screens….Draws and screens….Every coach in jv football….every coach in high school football….every coach in college football (except one)….every coach in the NFL knows that the primary way to deal with the blitz is draws and screens…..Who is the “one”? Guess…His initials are Nathaniel Hackett ! DM..Some of us were your greatest supporters and posted daily in the national and internet press singing your praise…take over the offense before the fans turn on you…..Read the blogs…The rumbing has started…Get destroyed by the UConn blitz and the noise will get louder…..Try draws and screens.You might like the results…

  11. I will say this ever since I moved down to louisville for school the ‘cuse have not won a bball or football game vs louisville. I think I jinxed them….

  12. mdb80 – the small sample size is kinda the point. they’ve barely returned any kicks and they have just as many yards as the guy who’s been back there a ton. And Desir wasn’t the “upback”. He and Gulley were back there as dual-returners.

    Keith – were you there? If so, thanks for the insight. The worst part about watching on TV is you can’t see downfield. In a lot of other games that has certainly been the case though so I’d believe it. You can’t say all on Nassib though. At the very least, the O-Line gets some blame.

    Terry – Classic.

    Carlton – Come back bro! The Boeheim Media Offensive. That game. If you’re the reason, it’s gotta stop.

    As for the Perkins thing, we’ll certainly have more on that soon. We always kinda thought he may reconsider. Stay tuned and to all – thanks for reading!

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