Paul Pasqualoni hoped UConn could come into the Carrier Dome and steal one on the road against a turnover-prone Syracuse team. Not so fast. The Orange turned in its most complete game of the season and handed UConn a good ol’ fashion ass-whooping. SU dominated in all three phases of the game and managed to commit no turnovers. We’ve known the talent has been there, and finally everything clicked for Doug Marrone and the playbook. Above .500 in the Big East means the Orange is keeping pace for a postseason bid, but did Friday’s beat-down prove Syracuse is legit? Let’s take a look. Here’s this week’s Fizz 5:
- Jerome Smith set the tone and emerged as SU’s feature back.
Smith shifted into beast-mode at the Dome, rushing for 133 yards. His 19 carries led all rushers, even though. J-Smith always takes heat for not being a complete-package running back. He showed off what he could really do, as #45 was breaking tackles, getting to the outside, and taking advantage of his size. He carried the rushing attack early on, given Ryan Nassib’s zippo passing yards in the opening quarter. Out of all Syracuse’s running threats, Jerome carries himself the best. He comes weekly with the same poise and trust in the game-plan. Smith says he enjoys sharing the load with other backs, but it’s clear he’s mentally and physically the toughest the guy right now. We need to see more of Smith in the second half of the season.
- Ryan Nassib was smooth and didn’t have to carry the load.
Finally the quarterback had some of the pressure off of him. The third-year starter didn’t have to throw a single passing yard to help give the Orange the lead. It was a rare game where Nassib’s every move wasn’t nit-picked. He fit seamlessly with the rest of the offensive pieces. Luckily for Nassib, the whole offense played tremendously. Nobody ever questions #12’s football IQ, but his decision-making can make you wonder. He took control of the game and put up a 40-spot without being the centerpiece. Kudos to Ryan.
- Don’t forget about that defense and special teams.
Syracuse held UConn to negative rushing yards, and less than 300 total yards of offense. The Huskies were just 3 of 13 on third down thanks to consistent pressure. This defense is legit and applying pressure remains a guarantee every game. Careless penalties from the Huskies certainly contributed, but SU forced a fumble and got an interception late from Shamarko Thomas. The real eye-catcher was how efficient the specials teams were. Thank goodness Steve Rene saw limited opportunities. Ross Krautman legged four field goals on four attempts, one for a season long 47 yards. Shockingly, the special teams were flawless. We finally had a night where fans didn’t need to rip into SU’s punt returners for being at the bottom of all college football.
- Previously Missing Ashton Broyld is Found.
Marrone finally gave Ashton chances, but only once the game was out of reach. And look what it did for ya, Doug. AB had 12 rushes for 50+ yards on the night. Every time he steps on the field, opposing defenses have no idea what to expect. Can someone please tell this to Nate Hacket? Broyld is too much of a talent to be filling the Gatorade cooler. The combination of Broyld, along with Smith, Prince Tyson-Gulley, and the WRs, Syracuse’s offensive talent is deep when AB’s utilized. It’s not an overreaction. It’s the truth.
- This performance needs to carry over.
Syracuse opened eyes with a dominating win, but how much of this was a bad offensively challenged UConn team playing a terrible game on the road? Good teams show some consistency, and SU has yet to do that. A win at USF Saturday would be enormous, and position Syracuse for a huge showdown at Cincinnati. We know how capable this offense and defense is. They finally just put together a complete game, with all systems clicking. The Orange has to take Friday’s game and make it count by carrying it over. If it fails to do so, then the UConn demolition becomes West Virginia 2.0, another Friday night wonder which was just a blip on the radar.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen