Week 4 Fizz Five: Mistakes Are Tightening the Noose Around Syracuse

Syracuse’s night at Minnesota was another winnable game against a beatable team, yet another loss. Eight straight of them against FBS opponents. The only win since October of ’11 has been against Stony Brook. With a 1-3 record heading into the bye week, the time to tell Syracuse football “good job, good effort” is over. Here are The Fizz Five take aways from the loss.

  • Tough Schedule? Tough Cookies

This game is precisely why so many schools give themselves as many cupcakes as possible during non-conference play. The more coin flip games (Northwestern, Minnesota) and borderline automatic losses (USC) you have, the less margin for error.

If Syracuse had demolished a couple of MAC schools along with Stony Brook before playing the Gophers, a loss wouldn’t have been as devastating. That option isn’t necessarily the better one, but this is what happens when you have a brutal non-conference schedule. A bunch of fluky plays go against the Orange vs. Northwestern, and beating USC was always unlikely. So you head to Minneapolis for a night game against a Big Ten school at a packed stadium, and you better find a way to get the W. Beat an evenly matched opponent or fall to 1-3. And SU couldn’t do it.

  • Figure Out How to Use Ashton Broyld

That statement is directed at Doug Marrone. Single plays can make the difference between bowl eligibility and another December/January on the sidelines, It could be the difference between landing Ebenezer Ogundeko and seeing him become a Florida Gator, or between keeping a job and losing a job. Pitching the ball to Jerome Smith on 2nd and goal from the one-yard line qualifies as one of those difference-making plays.

Instead of asking a power back to turn the corner, Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett could have called for about 50 better alternatives. Specifically, Broyld should have been on the field, and given the football.

Broyld is the most dynamic offensive player on a team that’s getting more athletic, but is still in search of legitimate playmakers. The freshman had only three rushing attempts and caught just one pass against Minnesota.

Yes, he’s raw. Marrone has also spoken about Broyld’s lack of understanding of the SU offense. The coach wants his players to have a complete grasp of the playbook before they see the field. But here, an exception must be made. Broyld is just too good. The players do have to be accountable, but this is on Marrone. Put Ashton in the game, and feed him the football. End of story.

  • Penalties and Turnovers are Inexcusable

The players deserve plenty of blame for the loss. Have you ever seen a team gain more “wasted yards” than this one? The Orange should have beaten Northwestern by 30 the way it played. That wasn’t quite the case against Minnesota, but SU let so many quality drives go to waste because of penalties (10 for 79 yards) and turnovers (4). I would venture to guess that Central New York broke some sort of TV-screens-smashed-by-remotes record on Saturday night. Par for the course: Syracuse helps beat itself.

  • Alec Lemon is Back to 100%

The newly crowned all-time Syracuse leader in receptions had a huge game with nine catches for 106 yards. He’s now definitely back to full strength after missing training camp and opening day with a leg injury. Marcus Sales is starting to receive more and more attention from defenses, so SU needs Lemon and Jarrod West to be there consistently as viable options for Ryan Nassib.

  • Syracuse Desperately Needs Its Injured to Get Healthy

If all goes as planned, the offensive line will play a highly anticipated game of musical chairs prior to the Pittsburgh game. Justin Pugh in at left tackle for Sean Hickey, Hickey over to right tackle for Lou Alexander, Alexander to the bench. That should turn a mediocre to average offensive line into possibly an above average group. The offensive line had its worst game of the season against Minnesota, giving up a season-high three sacks and constant pressure on Nassib. False starts have also been an issue.

So Marrone and his team must do some soul-searching during the bye week. Fairly or unfairly, fans are already beginning to question the team’s heart. And there have even been some murmurs from the fanbase about Marrone’s job security. Is Marrone a couple of losses away from being on the hot seat?

News and notes:

Adrian Flemming had a fantastic camp before he went down at the tail end of it. He’ll serve as another big play and red zone option. He could also return for the Pitt game.

The Orange misses Jeremiah Kobena on kickoff returns and he appeared to turn the corner as a receiver before falling victim to an upper body injury. It might still be several more weeks before he’s back, though.

Steve Rene… well forget it.

Posted: Andrew Kanell


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  1. Derek says:

    Great analysis. Go cuse!

  2. chris says:

    That play call for Smith going around the left may have the singular worse play I’ve seen since the program has done its Olympic platform dive from dominance to embarrassing.

  3. OrangeCrush27 says:

    I’m sorry to state this again but Marrone and Hackett needs to be more creative on the offense. I think Hackett needs to stop being conservative with the play calling. Syracuse needs to make plays that are unexpected and unpredictable. This pro-style is not for this team. You have some athletes, utilize them. Nassib isnt fast enough to elude the D when the passing game breaks down.

    Also Marrone needs to get Kinder, Hunt, Loeb and others playing time this year with the ACC next year and Nassib’s departure.

  4. hedgehog says:

    I mentioned this before in a previous post, but it bears repeating . . . turnovers. In every one of our ‘should haver won that game’… games – it’s been the TO’s that have absolutely killed us. This team is solid at almost every position. Heck we had 700 yards of offense vs Northwestern and lost (turnovers). We had more overall yardage vs USC (which happened to be the #2 team in the country) and lost (turnovers). And we lost by 1 TD to Minnesota even after turning the ball over 4 times(!) – (turnovers). Reduce the TO’s in half and this team is easily 3-1 at this point. All that being said, they have the ability to turn it around and go 5-3 over the next 8 games to finish 6-6 and get into a bowl. Crossing fingers and saying prayers . . . .

  5. Russell MacEachern says:

    I’m thinking along the same lines as Hedgehog 5-3 the rest of the way and my origenal Pinstripe bowl prediction “hopefully” !!Im leary of making any predictions after our erratic performances to date!!Our home game w/Pitt is a must win now!!lets see a little creative offense Dougie!!The bandwagon’s starting to empty!!

  6. Steve Leahy says:

    I disagree with your statement about Bryold. He already fumbled in the game. Should have just gave it to Smith up the middle three times if needed. Hackett is a “hack” for an o-coordinator.

  7. smitty section 129 says:

    I agree with orangecrush. Nassib is a very good pocket passer that is what he is. He is not a runner, he slides or dives to early and fumbles alot. Marrone looked very frustrated during the game and his interviews since then reflect that. Marrone needs to take over the offense and get a special teams coach. Its just getting so frustrating as a fan watching this team lose by mental mistakes by the players and the coaches. Has hackett explained why he called that sweep on the goaline. He needs to be held accountable as well. The university has to do something to get fans in the seats for the pitt game. I have my tixs already. Give the tixs away. They need fans in the stands for this game bad.

  8. the sackster says:

    i do like our coaches, but we need to play consistant mistake free football. i feel our coaches are overthinking there game plans and just need to really just simplify the game plan. the play calling on offense has to be better.our defense has been playing well all year, its our offense and special teams play we have struggled with up to this point. lets put these 4 games behind us and go all out the rest of the year. i also think coach marrone needs to get a little fired up with this team in terms of getting them going.

  9. Hedgehog – Completely agree about the TOs being a killer.

    Chris – Your statement sounds like hyperbole but it’s actually true. That was just a terrible play call.

    Orange Crush – How do you propose giving every one of our top 4 QBs playing time without completely destroying the rhythm of the offense? It’s Nassib’s job this year, and may the best man win the job next year.

    Everyone who wants to see Hackett gone – I’m not sure I agree. Remember, this is only his second year as a coordinator at any level. He’s extremely inexperienced. I think both him and Marrone are learning on the job. If you think they need a more experienced coordinator to run the offense, then fair enough, but I have seen some improvement in the play calling by Hackett from year one as Offensive Coordinator to year two (that Jerome Smith pitch aside). Hopefully he continues to improve.

    Just because Marrone is an offensive guy doesn’t mean he should take over the offense. Bill Belichick is a defensive guy, and he isn’t the Defensive Coordinator of the Patriots. He certainly has a huge hand in the defense, like Marrone does with the SU offense, but it’s tough for a Head Coach to also be a coordinator.

  10. OrangeCrush22 says:

    Andrew – what rhythm? we are 1-3. Forget the offense stats because they mean nothing in terms of where ‘Cuse currently is. It’s about winning. This is Nassib’s 3rd year as a starting QB and is he is not doing much to help us win. I’m sorry i know its early but they need to change something up.

    I just want to see more trick plays, more deep balls to keep the Defenses honest. These short 4-5 yard passes are only complimented with a good running game which we lack at the moment.

  11. All your other points are fair, but saying Nassib isn’t doing much to help SU win is absurd. There is plenty wrong with this team, but he is not the problem. I think most rational observers would agree with that. I don’t like to flatly tell people they’re wrong, but I think in this case it’s warranted. Putting QBs 2-4 in the game isn’t the answer.

    You’re generally one of our more reasonable commenters, but in this case I just disagree with you.

  12. OrangeCrush27 says:

    I guess the point i’m trying to make is that Nassib isnt doing what he needs to do in terms of being a 3rd year QB. He is not elusive or fast to scramble when the pocket collapses, He doesnt have great touch and he makes horrible decisions. (example: In USC territory in the first half on a 3rd and short, throws an int)

    I mean the numbers say statistically that Nassib is the best QB to play at ‘Cuse. But he is far from what the results produce in terms of win/loss.

    I personally am not a fan of him or Hackett. Change is needed somewhere. If not at QB then where?

  13. bigdip says:

    @Andrew…YOU’RE FLAT OUT WRONG! Nassib has looked worse every game. The playcalls have been worse every game. HCDM looks more helpless every game. Scoring has plummeted, and gone down every game; 40+30+20+ to 10 points? Nassib has missed some throws: behind, too high, no touch, too far, off timing, while throwing for 300+ yds per game….who’s to blame for bad throws & bad interceptions? Nassib can audible out of these situations, why hasn’t he?

    @OC Hackett fans- He’s failing us, as we watch! Sweep & wildcatAB
    @HCDM fans- He doesnt have fire in his belly? Competitive fire…

  14. I’m not saying Nassib doesn’t make his share of mistakes, but that’s not the main thing preventing SU from winning. You don’t have to be Joe Montana to lead a winning D-1 college football team. Nassib, at this time, is by far the best QB on our roster to have on the field.

  15. Russell MacEachern says:

    @Guy’s as bad as things look,if you take our only REAL weapon out of the lineup I don’t think we’ll win another game!Believe it or not Nassib is the only guy on the team everyone of our opponents fear!Look at the difference in Arkansas w/o Tyler Wilson and with him……the same will hold true for “Cuse”!!I realise he’s got his flaws but right now he’s all we’ve got!!At this point changing QBs would be a disaster!!

  16. Russell MacEachern says:

    Right now we can’t just morph into a wildcat team all of a sudden with a very green Broyld tho he should get loads of practice time and used in garbage time (if we ever get it)….Broyld is instinctive but not cerebral enough to be the decision maker role yet or maybe ever!!Hes not a QB in my opinion and there’s no time for on the job training.Lets hope our OL and WRs get healthy over the bye week!!

  17. OrangeCrush27 says:

    Putting in another QB for a series or 2 wouldnt be a disaster.

    Look Ryan has never been held accountable (from what the fan sees) for poor performance or mistakes. He is a 3rd year starter who has shown no improvement. Now granted his O-line has never been great and his receivers dont help with dropped passes, but his touch on a throw is always off.

    We start in a tougher conference next year and i feel that guys like Hunt, Loeb, Kinder should get some game time reps. It’s not going to hurt. Not like they wouldnt do something worse then what Nassib has done before.

  18. Jon says:

    Ryan Nassib’s QB rating by year:

    2009 – 116.7
    2010 – 124.2
    2011 – 129.9
    2012 – 143.7

    So, according to the stats, Nassib HAS gotten better each year. And anyone watching the games should see that reality with their eyes. Yes, Nassib needs a better touch on a lot of short throws, and his fumble at the end of the first half was a crushing blow. But to say he has shown no improvement is just plain wrong. Besides, has anyone ever seen Hunt, Kinder, or Loeb take a meaningful snap? If not, how can you have any confidence in them?

  19. Russell MacEachern says:

    @Orange,yes we should be finding time somewhere during games to switch things up and see if someone else “Hunt”could maybe show something different or confuse opposing defenses and maybe throw AB in for a WC series now and again but HCDM don’t seem to want to budge or maybe its Hackett?

  20. Russell MacEachern says:

    @Jon,I think Nassib may be one of the 5 or 6 best QBs in the country given proper support and he will be missed when hes in the NFL!!

  21. OrangeCrush27 says:

    Jon – Like i stated before Stats show Nassib to be one of the best QB’s to come out of SU all-time. But what does that Show in terms of win/loss? So far he is 14-15 as a starter.

    His QB rating wont be that high at the end of the season.

    In regards to the back ups…how can anyone see if they are good without being in the game? I cant show confidence if i dont see them play. Nassib lost my confidence in him at the tail end of the season last year. I’m not trying to say Nasib isnt a good QB, im just saying why cant we shake things up and try someone else for a series or two? It really can’t hurt. who’s to say Hunt and Kinder dont play well? Who’s to say Loeb doesnt have a higher QB rating?

    DM is losing the fanbase and is getting closer to the hot seat. He needs to inject something new and different into the offense whether it be personnel or play calling. I’m sorry, but thats my opinion.

  22. Terry says:

    Again no real mention about HCDM/dougie. I blame him a hell of alot more than Ryan. Its time for HCDM to move on and if necessary loose the million salary for next year. Oh yeah, if your man dougie is a class guy 4 million would be enough-heh???

  23. Russell MacEachern says:

    Terry,Im not disagreeing w/u at this point,too many good fans are hurtin!!!Somethings gotta change!!

  24. OrangeCrush22 says:

    Terry – Coaches coach, players play. DM cant be held accountable for bad passes, dropped balls, missed tackles, turnovers, poor blocking, etc., etc. These kids need to be held responsible for their poor play at times.

  25. Cuse17 says:

    In the end…. Well coached teams don’t make all these mistakes…penalties, turnovers, run backs .
    The coaching staff has had time to recruit their own players. The coaching staff has had time to install a culture of mistake free football.
    We are headed to the ACC…. It’s time to turn the page!
    Expectations for Syracuse Football in the ACC are low. They should be. Even with the bottom feeders in the conference, Cuse can’t currently compete with VTech, Florida St, Miami, ND, Clemson or even GTech football.
    Marrone was a Northeast/Big East experiment. It didn’t work as well as well as we hoped.
    Let’s get a coaching staff that can compete in the ACC for recruiting and put a well coached mistake free football team on the field.

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