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Fizz 5: Playcalling, Special Teams & Sensible Postgame Rationale all MIA

Only the Orange could make Louisville look like a good loss. Syracuse’s stinker at UConn was one of the most frustrating in recent memory. The team has played like total garbage in back-to-back weeks. Against the Huskies, Syracuse played well in stretches but wasted numerous opportunities to put away Coach P’s new squad away. This week’s Fizz 5:

  • We repeat, playcalling is an issue.

I spoke with Nathaniel Hackett postgame after the big West Virginia win and he said something that was scary as hell. Paraphrasing “on a night like tonight you can just point at the playcard and it’ll work.” His team was executing so well the call was almost irrelevant. A cynic would suggest, though, he hadn’t figured anything out and got lucky his team was whipping Mountaineer ass.

Ryan Nassib can’t throw the ball 39 times. Antwon Bailey needs more than 16 carries. Bailey and the entire run game were horrifically ineffective but still needed to be established. Remember the Wake game? Bailey was awful, then busted a 53-yarder as the biggest play of the game. Eventually, he’s going to break one. As for Nassib:

  • It’s not Kinder time yet, but we’re close.

Cue broken record. Nassib is capable of putting up big numbers and being a good quarterback, but he’s terribly inconsistent. The reason: he’s nervous in the pocket. Nassib in rhythm is very effective, like finding Alec Lemon continually working downfield. Then UConn adjusted, balls got batted, coverage shifted. Nassib threw to Lemon one too many times and was picked off. Then he was back to happy feet. Statistically Nassib wasn’t awful, but watching the game in his hands was hard. Somehow his coaches and teammates haven’t lost faith in the junior, however Orange fans are a different story.

  • The Dougie sounds like Groobers.

The Fizz loves Doug Marrone. Period. End of story. But after the game he made a statement that had everyone confused. Marrone said the offense executed pretty well but “just didn’t have the ball much.” That’s a quote harvested right from a Greg Robinson transcript. In the first half SU was the beneficiary of five Husky turnovers, had 9 possessions and came away with a measly 7 points. In the second half, SU only had 4 possessions. But it had the ball for 16+ minutes (which is more than 50% of the half) and UConn only had 4 possessions as well. The difference? UConn had 3 TD’s and ended the game taking a knee, while the Orange had 2 scores, a game-changing INT and a turnover on downs. The defense didn’t get a stop in the 2nd half. Simply put, the Orange had the ball plenty.

  • Don’t get cute, find the playmakers.

Lemon is quietly having a good year and Saturday was a monster day, going for 150+ yards on 9 catches. Against Rhode Island he had 10 receptions, and Wake he nabbed 7. Dorian Graham was again solid. He helped vault SU forward on an end-around that worked for 30+ yards and a TD. So why is SU throwing lollipop screen passes in their own end zone to Steve Rene? SU doesn’t have any spectacular go-to threats, but does have guys who can get chunks of yardage. Lemon has also proven he might be SU’s best route runner. Does he drop a few balls? Sure. But what SU reciever doesn’t? The Orange sometimes spreads the ball out too much. Fewer targets means a better rhythm for Nassib. We also ask again “who’s ready for Marcus Sales to come back!?” That’s a lot of hands in the air.

  • The special teams were special.

While watching Alabama/LSU you realize the Tigers have Tyranne Mathieu, perhaps the best DB in the country and a sleeper for the Heisman, as one of their gunners. Not only is he fast, he’s a sure tackler. SU has Graham and Jeremiah Kobena as its gunners.

The Orange gave up way too many return yards then simply sacrificed field position and kicked away from UConn’s returners. Too many punts were shanked out of bounds. The Fizz wrote about SU’s return struggles last week and now another poor effort created flashbacks to last season.

  • (Bonus) Phillip Thomas & Chan Jones are SU’s two best players.

A Fizz 6 includes the bright spots in this game wearing numbers 1 and 99. Chan Jones did enough to catch Mel Kiper’s eye, while Thomas seemed like he was in on every stop (10 tackles), plus his two INT’s puts him 2nd in the nation. They are also two of the leaders of the locker room. The bad news is a majority of the team isn’t skilled like Thomas and Jones and offenses are exploiting it. Whether it’s picking on the corners or running away from #99 (or double-teaming him), there are ways to avoid these two.

This was ugly. Next up though is another Friday night in the Dome against a struggling USF squad. A chance for the Orange to recreate some primetime magic and rinse this awful taste from our mouths.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

Photo credit: SB Nation

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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