Despite coming off its biggest comeback in school history against USF, Syracuse dropped a winnable game to Cincinnati 35-24. SU misses a golden opportunity to come in and steal one from the Bearcats, having led the game going into halftime. So much for nabbing the first three-game winning streak in the Doug Marrone era. The road to the post season just got even tougher. For the postseason, SU now has to win two of its next three to even be considered. Here’s this week’s Fizz 5, the biggest takeaways from the Orange loss to the Bearcats.
- Stats don’t always tell the story.
Syracuse finished the day with 479 total yards on the day (9 more than Cincy), and committed just two turnovers compared to the Bearcats’ three. But it’s all about timing with the Orange. The afternoon started poorly when Jeremiah Kobena fumbled the opening kickoff. Cincinnati scored four plays later and was up 7-0 in a heartbeat. Lack of protection for Ryan Nassib was a problem all day long. Nassib fumbled in Orange territory late in the 3rd quarter, which enabled Cincy to gain control and post the go-ahead score. Sometimes the numbers do lie.
- Munchie was Legauxed to the bench. Hello, run defense?
Just pitiful. The SU defense should’ve been all over the run attack from the Bearcats. Instead, it allowed 263 yards on the ground and let George Winn put together a career day with 3 TD runs and a fancy trick passing play to embarrass the D. Dual-threat Munchie Leagaux was benched after throwing an interception in the 3rd quarter. Leagaux wasn’t getting it done through the air, but rushed for 39 yards on six carries. What’s been going on with this run defense lately? Durrell Eskridge told The Fizz this week that this defense looks to stop the run first. Durrell, not lately bro. Let’s back track a little bit. The Orange shut down Pitt’s Ray Graham, limited Rutgers’ Jawan Jamison, and blew out UConn. But the last two games, Syracuse has given up over 600 rushing yards.
- Ryan Nassib and Jerome Smith again consistent standouts.
These two upperclassmen continue to get it done. Nassib rounded up the troops down in Florida, and against on Saturday he was very good. He did his job, throwing for just one touchdown but orchestrating the offensive attack. He managed to lead the offense to 24 points against a worthy Cincinnati defense. Smith quietly rushed for 133 yards last week, and was at it again with 116 yards on the day. Clearly, the offensive playbook is still unfolding and working. Marrone has found his comfort zone with who wants getting more playing time. Nassib found almost every receiver, but those guys had careless drops and penalties (looking at you, Jarrod West). Smith is THE guy in the backfield. He finally got in the end zone for the first time this season. Orange postseason hopes remain alive unless Nassib and Smith fall off completely. The duo is just playing very well.
- Marrone’s preaching isn’t trending positively.
Twelve penalties for 104 yards doesn’t get it done. Syracuse keeps having careless and unacceptable penalties. You can excuse missed field goals, because those things happen. But penalties are totally preventable. Of course some will happen throughout the course of a game, but the amount over the last three weeks are staggering. The Orange committed 10 penalties for 89 yards vs. South Florida and eight penalties for 73 yards against UConn. SU had 7 penalties against Rutgers as well. The trend isn’t really improving despite Marrone’s words of accountability. The penalty issue and spotty special teams may make for some difficult changes to the coaching staff. It’ s a problem that needs to be fixed because they’re killing the Orange.
- The Louisville showdown becomes a must-win… kind of.
The Orange plays the best team in the Big East Saturday at noon in the Dome. Let’s hope the stadium is close to packed, because the Orange needs a similar effort to the wins over Pitt and UConn. SU will need all its firepower for 4 quarters against the Cardinals. Syracuse has to win two of its next three games to be considered for a bowl game. If we pencil in a win at Temple (no guarantee), the Orange must beat either Louisville or Mizzou on the road. Most consider victory on the road in the SEC an impossible task, leaving this weekend as a must win. It may not be wise to chalk up a loss in Columbia. The Tigers are only 4-5, and have lost games at home to Georgia, Vanderbilt and Alabama. Obviously, it’s no easy task for SU in two weeks, so it behooves the Orange to take care of business Saturday.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen