Tampa Thriller! D.A.’s Knee-Jerk Reaction After Syracuse’s Comeback Win

Jason Behnken/Tampa Trib

Syracuse’s 37-36 comeback win was obviously a season-saving type game. A loss in Tampa probably would’ve rendered a bowl bid impossible. But the victory proved the guts and resiliency the Orange has. Here’s my knee-jerk reaction:

  • Ryan Nassib has certainly had his fair share of inconsistency, but the game-winning drive to ice USF was epic. The 8-play, 75-yard drive took only 1:20 and Nassib looked in control the entire time. He’s got moxy, and whatever physical tools he lacks, he makes up for at times with attitude. His first two plays went to Jarrod West and Marcus Sales and put the drive at the USF 36 in just a few seconds.
  • The Orange offense put up a second half for the ages. 6 drives, 5 touchdowns, 34 points. SU had 3 scoring drives of more than 75 yards. Give Nate Hackett (the much maligned) credit. Clearly he saw vulnerabilities at half and made the proper adjustments. Then sliced the Bulls.
  • There’s been more than a few times this season where we wondered where the program stood. Was Syracuse moving forward, or stuck in neutral because Doug Marrone and his staff couldn’t get the players to wake up to their potential. This was the type of win where we see evidence of how they can respond as a unit. They never stopped playing for Doug, and that’s as important as anything. Recruiting is clearly better, the talent level is rising. But we need to see games and performances where they’re also getting solid coaching. Saturday night in Tampa, SU’s staff outcoached Skip Holtz’s squad.
  • This was a classic USF game, in the middle of a classic USF season. Always have immense talent, but once again the Bulls just can’t get it done. The Big East has yet to catch a break in the Bulls being competitive. USF has always had a chance to be a very strong national program, and garner respect for the conference. Never taken advantage of.
  • Syracuse had far too many penalties on the road (10), but didn’t commit a turnover. So in the KYP (Kill Yourself Plays) department, the Orange tallied 10 (0 turnovers). But it was enough because the Bulls also did (9 flags/1 turnover).
  • Against the run, SU clearly was overmatched – perhaps the biggest concern to take away from Saturday night. The Bulls ran at will, and totaled 369 yards (including two 100-yard rushers). Sure, some of that is BJ Daniels natural elusiveness. But Teddy Bridgewater is pretty tough to catch as well, so contain has to be far better when the Orange take on UofL.
  • Nice to see the bruising Jerome Smith continue his hard-plowing ways. Another 125 yard day for him, and ‘Rome has proved what a solid feature back he has become.
  • More breathing room for the Orange bowl hopes. Now SU needs to only split its final 4 games, including a game at Temple. Just shows you how brutal that Rutgers loss really was. The Orange were a blocked FG-brought back for a TD away from potentially being 4-0 in the Big East. Incredible.

Posted: D.A.


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  1. Section 129 Smitty says:

    Great win for the team and program. Lets go fans go get your tickets for the Lousiville game because this is when we clinch a bowl game. I’ve said it all along once this team and coaching staff figure our how to win watch out. A win on the road in the Big East is big win anyday. Love how this team never gave up. We do need the tank in for the goaline. Smith looks very good and is getting better each game but he runs too straight up on the goal line to be effective, but of all the players he has been a pleasant surprise in how good he is playing. The only coaching blunder I felt that was made was the third and goal on the screen play Smith dropped. He should of never been in to begin with, Gulley should of been in. There was no threat of running on that play and Gulley is the better back out of the backfield. Still would like to see Wayne Morgan play on defense in the secondary. Again great win and very happy in Section 129 today.

  2. wayne says:

    Coaching blunder????? Heres a huge blunder that could have cost us the game….:03 on the clock. Just scored the go ahead touchdown up by 1….Why in the hell would we ever consider a 2pt conversion???? Take the pat, up by 2 kick deep, even if they dont recieve kickoff let it bounce outta bounds, 3 seconds gets burned on very next play, game over……instead we try 2 pt conversion, had that gotten picked off and returned we all would have been screaming for Marrones resignation, he got lucky. Football is a game of inches and calculated risks, there was absolutely zero reward in the 2pt conversion…was all risk. That single decision was far worse than the much complained about 3rd down goaline sweep to Smith, far worse times 10.

  3. Russell MacEachern says:

    @wayne,excellent observation,Dougie should know better but lets just be grateful now for the desperately needed win!!great observation though!!

  4. orangeinva says:

    And when the PAT is blocked and runback….?

  5. Section 129 Smitty says:

    Yeah I dont think it was that a bad of a call, Nassib threw it out of the end zone and maybe thats what Marrone told him to do. A blocked extra point is not out of the question with this special teams and also a two point conversion puts us up 3. One of the best comebacks I have ever seen and what a ending to the game. Its nice to see another team blow a lead and the game instead of us. Lets go get Cinn.

  6. Aaron says:

    Big win!

    The call that drove me nuts was the time out in the first half. ‘Cuse had the usf defense gasping for air. 3rd and 1 at the goal line with the offense making positive yards every play. Jerome Smith poised to pound it in for his first TD. Coach calls a time out to talk it over. USF defense composes itself. Syracuse fails to punch it in on next play… Then shank the field goal. Ugh

  7. Malone says:

    @ Wayne – I don’t think that you can coach in fear of a turnover. If you do that, you’ve lost already, and you can’t coach a damn either. I think you have to go for 2 and make it a 3 point game. Much easier to get close enough for a FG try then to have to go for the end zone. 1 or 2 point differential is the same thing, but 3 forces second guesses and mistakes.

  8. Russell MacEachern says:

    Malone,I think waynes point was with only 3 sec,s left USF would have had to run the kickoff back or their would’nt have been enough time left for any kind of play let alone a FG so why try such a dangerous play under the circumstances?Im not sure of all the new rules but an interception runback or a fumble runback could have reversed the results!!2PTs the wrong way,..no?

  9. the sackster says:

    i’m so proud of this team for the effort they showed. they played there a–es of and deserved that win. now the record at 4-4 its a whole new ball game. keep up the good work and keep the focus. that south florida team was a very good football team that we beaten , and feel if su can play consistantly they have a great chance of going to a bowl game. great job syracuse.

  10. nxk37 says:

    @Russ – The chances of USF getting 2 points from a blocked PAT are FAR greater than their chances of getting 2 points off of a turnover on that play. That was absolutely the right play, and was both the one with higer reward and less risk. Id rather have the ball in Nassib’s hands than on Krautman’s foot, wouldn’t you?

  11. the dipper says:

    Here it is @FizzFam..HCDM had to produce! Calling for a coaching change now would be stupid…at 1-3, it seemed feasible? Batting .500, HCDM, has turned around the season… “with fire in his belly!”

    Things that deserve mentioning:
    1. The Tank. This formation produces
    2. Feeding Jerome Smith, HCDM tabbed as “better than I thought”
    3. The trenches, HCDM wants to win on the DL/OL…SU has
    4. Trusting Nassib….(#5 Qb- McShay) 17/8, td to int ratio
    5. Command of the team…1-3 to bowl eligible is a dream

    * I was doubting whether HCDM was the guy to lead SU to the ACCU, I wanted to see more competitiveness out of him and the team. I wanted Nassib to to cut the turnover crap out, for the defense to play lights out…its happened & they’ve turned a corner! BCS eligible?

  12. Russell MacEachern says:

    Dip,BCS?I doubt this year cause I think u have to be ranked in the top 14/16? and even L’ville,RU and Cinncy had to struggle due to late start in rankings!Even if we tied for BE title we’d not have BCS ranking!Thats why they should’nt start rankings untill 5th or 6th week!!Pre and early season rankings are just SEC popularity contest to give them a head start on reputations alone!!Who would be in a BCS bowl with at least 4 losses anyway?(UConn)!!!Next yr will be tough too cause we’ll probably be starting at some point a frosh from Texas!?!..

  13. Russell MacEachern says:

    At QB…above..starting as frosh probably,IMO..

  14. Malone says:

    @Russ I hear the “runback the kickoff” argument, but again we are assuming that we going to turn the ball over! And if we did, also that we can’t tackle whoever gets the ball. I just think that’s a lot more to assume to go wrong than any coach should be accounting for when trying to win a game and show that he has confidence in his team.
    I have high hopes for next year too, even with the Frosh starter (because I think he will get the nod). He is probably the highest rated QB we’ve had since #5 left for the NFL, and maybe even including him (he wasn’t that highly thought of out of HS). That said, this year is not over and we still have a chance to make noise, go to a bowl, and woo some higher level recruit talent, thanks in part to this win. Lets celebrate the win. Go ‘Cuse.

  15. Russell MacEachern says:

    Malone,yeah I hear ya!!Im thinkin we could go on a decent “streak”…3 out of 4 if we play well and finish 7-5 and at least a Pinstripe bowl since I don’t think the BE will fill their 5 bids!Im optimistic,just not as optimistic as Ron who predicted 9-3!What I like about the Pinstripe is the NY/NJ recruits could come as guests of “Cuse” and become impressed enough to hopefully DEEPLY consider us!!About the “playcall” Im just happy we won HaHa..

  16. Russell MacEachern says:

    Dipper,I noticed u changed from bigdipper to da Dipper??Im honored if u made that change on my account!!da Dipperrr..

  17. Russell MacEachern says:

    How about the Dapper Dipper?lol..I grew up in Jersey and went to Jamesburg as a kid(a reform school)with a best friend Dan McDonald and the police used to call him “Dapper Dan from Annandale” (another youth facility)!He was like a brother to me, may he RIP…

  18. wayne says:

    Malone, when was the last time a blocked pat was returned? Smart coaching decisions does not mean you are coacing in fear. Horrible coaching move, silly risk…you assert that Marrone may instructed to throw it outta bounds….that is B.S…. if that was the thought take the snap and kneel down, oh but then we would be coaching outta fear….as if instructing your qb to toss it outta bounds, is doing the same thing you are arhueing angainst….Learn the game buddy, with three seconds left there is zero possibilty of a game tying feild zero.

  19. wayne says:

    Sorry, with 3 seconds left there is zero chance of a game tying feild goal, especially when the kickoff is the very next timed play.

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