Week 8 Fizz Five: The Good & Bad from Syracuse’s Dramatic Win at USF

The five biggest takeaways from SU’s thrilling victory.

Jason Benhken/Tampa Trib

Ryan Nassib dug his team’s season out of the gutter with his 83-second game winning drive in Tampa Saturday. The Orange is back to .500 after its 37-36 victory, and now has a ton of momentum heading into its critical four-game November stretch. Whatever Doug Marrone said in that locker room at halftime, he better say it before every game the rest of this season.

There’s a ton to go over after the win. Here is the Fizz Five, the top take-away’s from this weekend.

  • This is Ryan Nassib’s Team.

It’s clear. Less than a minute and a half was plenty of time for Nassib to lead his team down the field for the game winner. It was a total transformation for Ryan. In the first, he didn’t seem comfortable throwing. He was short arming too many passes and not recognizing open receivers. But a light switch clicked at half, as he connected on 18/24 for 238 yards and all four of his TD’s in the second half. You’ll see that poised swagger from here on out from the fifth year senior. ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay actually ranked Nassib as the fifth best QB prospect on his big board before the weekend. Maybe Ryan was a little offended because he moved himself up a few notches on that list after Tampa.

“Finish” needs to be the motto heading into these final four games. Ryan keeps his guys cool, calm and collected in the huddle. The momentum from that second half should help vault the Orange into the final month.

  • Redzone Efficiency Defines SU.

Syracuse’s performance in the redzone was the difference maker in this game. In the first half, SU’s two trips ended in three points. Once again it was self-inflicted wounds that caused the problems. Syracuse got all the way down to the five-yard line on its first possession, and had to settle for a field goal. Jerome Smith dropped a wide open, easy touchdown right at the goal. The Orange was inside USF’s five again midway through the second quarter, and couldn’t punch it in. Smith may actually be allergic to the endzone. Three straight runs were met by a wall of green jerseys. To top it all off, Ross Krautman missed the ensuing 22-yard FG, and moments later Lindsay Lamar ran in an 80-yard TD for the Bulls.

SU pulled a total 180 in the second half, scoring a touchdown on all four of trips to the redzone. The Orange has to do a better job converting when it gets close. SU looked too tight near the goal line in first half. You can’t plan for furious 20-point comebacks every week, and SU won’t get away with those mental mistakes in the redzone too many more times this season.

  • Work the TE’s into the Gameplan.

Nassib has been hooking up more frequently with Beckett Wales and David Stevens over the last couple weeks. Nate Hackett had a simple gameplan on Saturday. It was a lot of grounding and pounding, but the play-action game opened up the middle of the field for the tight end’s. Orange fans might see more of Stevens and Wales from here on out. They’re starting to take some pressure off of Marcus Sales and Jarrod West, who were non-factors until the second half (13 of their combined 16 grabs came after halftime). And the TE duo is picking up big chunks of yardage, something that was wasn’t evident a year ago. Over the last 3 games alone, Wales and Stevens have combined for eight catches for ten yards or more.  Hackett is trying to stretch the field with the big bodies.

  • There’s A Lot of Work To Be Done This Week.

Marrone said he was physically and emotionally drained after SU’s largest comeback victory since at least 1942. Yes, it was a fantastic Saturday night filled with a lot of celebration, but you have to put Syracuse’s 20-point comeback into perspective. USF has lost 6 straight, is still winless in the Big East, and had a dominating lead at the half. SU played far from the perfect game. The Fizz already mentioned the redzone troubles, and missed FG, and penalties continue to be killers. Ten in total for 89 yards, none more hair-splitting than Alec Lemon’s false start in the final seconds of the fourth quarter (luckily Nassib gave his buddy a pardon moments later). SU was nailed for two penalties in that final game winning drive. If the adrenaline level wasn’t sky high in that huddle, who knows how severally it could have altered the game. The tackling was also poor throughout this one, and the defense allowed a ton of big runs.

  • Can’t Afford Breakdowns Against Mobile QB’s.

SU must do a better job containing the run. After allowed just 106 total rushing yards over its last three games combined, the Orange gave up 279 rushing yards to QB BJ Daniels and tailback Lindsay Lamar alone. The Bulls piled 369 total, and were finding huge holes through the SU front line. There’s no question USF won the battle on the line of scrimmage. But where did all that SU pressure go on Saturday? The D did not contain BJ, and Scott Shafer never consistently kept a linebacker spying on Daniels. It didn’t make sense. Syracuse could blitz all it wanted to up the middle – which it did – but Daniels was free to scramble to the outside. SU should’ve changed up the blitz patterns, maybe coming with more corner or safety pressure.

Tracking running quarterbacks will be key in this final stretch for SU. Cincy QB Munchie Legaux is mobile, and Louisville signal caller Teddy Bridgewater is hard to bring down as well. Temple runs the option offense with QB Chris Coyer (who is also second on the team in rushing with 354 yards). There needs to be a serious gameplan change to stop the rushing QB’s the final four weeks of the season.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

26 Comments on this Post

  1. The defensive line was getting man handled by the USF offensive line through out the game. Goggins seemed to making a boatload of tackles.

  2. @Kevin Fitzgerald;great article kevin. all of your article is on point.

    Your opening remark”make no mistake about it” this is Ryan Nassibs team.brought tears while I was reading it. Think back to all of the critism that this young man has taken over the last 4 years. He stands alone a giant of a man that is truely a leader of a great Syracuse squad.

    I know our record is 4-4 but I think given a chance we could be 7-1. That’s amazing folks.

    To the OrangeFizz and to you Kevin,thank you for another great article.

    The question that should be asked,can Syracuse go 3-1 or 4-0 in November?

  3. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,Im not sure about SU going 4-0 as a team but if we had 22 Nassibs Id have no doubt…2-2 or with good fortune(few turnovers)3-1 is doable!!Save a few tears for Obama,Ron,HaHa..

  4. Russell MacEachern

    @Ron,did you find ur computer tech store?LoL..is ur refriderator running?if so put on ur US Keds and start chasing it!!HaHa..Thats for C17 who thinks of us as children,HaHa..

  5. OrangeCrush27

    For me the jury is still out on Nassib. I’m sure he could be groomed better at the NFL level plus he would have better protections and wideouts, but its not just his mobility that kills me, its his inabilty to make the right decisions. Just seem he tightens up when plays break down.

    However he did what seemed impossible Saturday. Comeback and win like a true leader would do. Very proud to be a ‘Cuse fan this week. I just hope we can get another win at Cincy.

    Imagine…’Cuse vs. Louisville at the Dome…’Cuse could be 4-1 and Louisville 5-0 playing for the possiblility of the BE championship…Excited?

  6. It was Ryan time at USF Saturday!! Lets give this guy some credit huh!!!

  7. Section 129 Smitty

    The drive that saved the 2012 season was a work of art. Nassib looked very good on this drive and let me say it for the first time the play calling was great on this drive. OrangeCrush27 I agree wouldnt that be something if we beat Cinn. and have a very meaningful game in the Dome in November. I’m ready to tailgate now.

  8. Russell MacEachern

    We have Nassib to thank for a lot of better moods this week too!!I’ve been telling anyone who’d listen he’s done more than anyone could ask of one young man!!Kudos to 1 of our greatest QBs in a long time!!Will always be remembered for “the Drive”..

  9. I’m looking forward to a packed, actually loud “Loud House” in a couple of weeks for Louisville after we beat Cinci! …Go ‘Cuse!

  10. Kevin Fitzgerald

    They really were. It was bizarre, SU seemingly came up the middle with the rush every blitz. Have to change things up and bring pressure from the outside.

    I’ve been saying it for two years, Ryan Nassib is the man for this offense. Experience in the pro-style, west coast, option read…that helps the draft stock. Don’t know if you guys will like the Eli Manning comparison, but he’s not a rah-rah guy either. Leads by example. Is Ryan Nassib the next Eli? Hell no–as of now. Sooo much potential to grow into in the NFL.

    The one word that came to mind while reading to your response was “tight”…and then you said it! I have a problem with Ryan’s fluidity at times as well. Seems to tighten up a lot like you said. But once he does get in a groove, the throws are confident and strong. Just look at the improvement of game from last year? You put the ball in his hands more often and more consistently, he can get rolling. He’s throwing for more yards per completion, comp % is higher, less mistakes.

    Ryan’s draft stock is rising. What NFL scouts look for is steady progression. And Ryan has been the epitome of that during his career. He could be a 2nd-3rd round draft pick, without a doubt.

  11. @kevin;thanks for the response. I agree Doug Marrone has changed the direction of this team by changing the offense to a Pro Style offense by using it’s tightends and recievers more. The no-huddle hurry up offense,is producing points and in a short period of time. I can’t remember(if ever) when Syracuse scored 21 points in a 6 minute span during any one game.

    I want all of you to look to the future(if possible)and think about the players that was red shirted this year. That means you to Terrie. Make no mistake about it,this team will be ready for the ACC come next year.

    @Russell MacEachern;I found my way to the computer tech’s lab Russell,my car broke down and I had to run there,I ran so fast that I wore the soles off of my sneakers.
    Don’t worry though,my mom and dad have enough money to buy me a new pair. NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS Russell will I shed a tear for Obama.

    Keep the faith though,November is going to have a few surprises for all to enjoy especially with Syracuse leading the way with a 4-0 record and earning it’s 2nd bowl appearance in just his 4th uncompleted year at the helm.

    Go Cuse;

  12. I’m sorry Terrie,Russell and I started babbling again. It was fun talking with him again and I really hope that it got under your skin and screwed your day up a little.

    Knowing that makes my day.

  13. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,Geez,ya picked a bad time to give up ur seats/tickets,..on the other hand u should have no problem now finding buyers as it looks like SU’s became a HOT ticket!!LOL..

  14. @Russell MacEachern;Russ you and I have been following Syracuse Football for a long time and I want to ask you if you have ever witnessed or remember a game where Syracuse had a game like the one on Saturday? My son’s and I watched it on tv and went crazy. My son said the tailgate party was one of the best he ever had. We served boiled ham and cabbage with all the trimmings for dinner.
    Ive been reenergized Russ and will rethink my season tickets. I can only see this team getting better.
    Just letting you know I talked with DE #10 Marcus Pierce Brewster and DT #92 Davon Walls lastnight. Meeting and talking with these young men makes me real happy. Both feel good things are going to happen the rest of the year and both players said that they were looking forward to playing in the ACC.

  15. That’s OK Ronette!! Your estrogen levels were just a little high!!! That’s excusable?? I’m a big Ryan fan for SU FB. I’m not convinced on his NFL potential yet. Lets see if HCDM/dougie doesn’t blow the end of this season like he did last year. GO CUSE!!!

  16. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,believe it or not I knew how u felt and hoped/sensed things would work out the way they have…..so far,but with Nassib at the helm Im pretty confident for this year and the future with our gunslinging Texan coming in!!As long as we have Terry to prove wrong we’ll keep winning….believe it or not I think the players read his posts and get fired up!!HaHa..I just wish we’d start winning b4 the last possible moment??

  17. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,ooooommmM,I can smell the carrot’s in my mom’s favorite dish!!I hope u had vinegar for the cabbage?My mom used Ham too but once or twice a year (St.Pats) she would make corned beef!!

  18. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,please pass the butter and salt and pepper for the spuds!!

  19. @Russell MacEachern; Russ you ought to know that you can’t have boiled ham and cabbage without vinegar. Vinegar tops everything off man. Great day for the family and a great meal to boot. I enjoy putting the cabbage juice on the potatoes Russell and don’t use butter at all. It’s a meal fit for kings,and I wouldn’t change any of it.

  20. Russell MacEachern

    Yeah Ron,I think its a favorite of the Irish who brought their “fine cuisine” from the old country!!…the Scots too!!You ever eat beetgreens w/vinegar?…another healthy tasty meal!!

  21. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,I know what u mean about the vinegar but believe it or not “some” put “mustard” on instead of vinegar??….not me,Im all vinegar!!

  22. @Russell MacEachern;No Russell,I haven’t eaten any beet greens with vinegar yet. I will do it next summer/fall when my wife and I start cooking(pickled) beets for canning.
    Are they any different than dandelion greens or spinach?

    I know we’re going to get certain individuals upset,but who cares.

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