After a slow start to the Shafer Era, Syracuse football is back on track. The Orange takedown of Tulane evened its record at 2-2 going into the bye week. The offense was clicking early on, but it was special teams that gave Syracuse a chance to run away with the game in the first half. We look at the major takeaways from SU’s domininate effort:
1) It’s Hunt-ing Season: Terrel Hunt showcased again why he is SU’s starting quarterback. Hunt finished the day 16/21, with 184 passing yards and 4 TDs. He also had 39 yards on the ground, highlighted by a leaping score into the end zone in the second quarter. The quick start was key for Hunt. The Orange had six TDs in just the first half, breaking through Tulane’s defense. Although the running game did not produce many yards, it did pose a threat to the Green Wave defense. When the ground game is working, Hunt has been able exploit defensive coverage and find open players when teams blitz. One can only wonder if Drew Allen would have had the same production if the running game was working the first two games. A eye-opening stat from the past two games has been the zero interceptions for Hunt. The Queens product has thrown 7 TDs without a pick thus far and has avoided throwing into tight converge. Keeping the turnovers low will be key for Hunt as Syracuse enters ACC play.
2) Special Teams Delivery: The unit came up huge for the Orange. Syracuse had blocked punts by Darius Kelly and Eric Crume, followed up by a blocked Tulane FG attempt. Crume said after the game SU saw a weak point and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. The staff saw holes in Tulane’s punt blocking on film during the week. The one disappointing area for the Orange was in the return game. Ritchy Desir did not have any room to run on punts and the Orange only took one kick out of the end zone. Field position will be crucial for the SU offense, especially against looming Clemson who visit the Orange in two weeks.
3) Who will be the Go-To Wide Receiver? The good news is eleven different receivers caught balls for the Orange. The bad news is that besides Christopher Clark, the receiving corps did not have a good day stat wise. Jarrod West, who many anticipate to be the number one receiver, was limited to one catch for four yards. Meanwhile, Jeremiah Kobena was held to two catches for 19 yards. ACC defenses are going to be a lot harder to get open on than schools like Tulane. If the receivers are having a hard time making big plays now, George McDonald has to look hard to see how he can get his playmakers involved.
4) SU defense injuries: The bye week comes at a good time for the Orange. Brandon Reddish and Robert Welsh sustained lower-body injuries in the 1st half. Welsh did not put any pressure on his left foot heading off to the sidelines. Julian Whigham took over for Reddish and got his first career interception. Shafer did not have an update on either player during the postgame press conference. Hopefully players being held out of the second half was just a precaution, especially with the Orange up big. The bye week should be enough time for both players to return to the field.
5) 700th win, Game ball to Sue Edson: The win marks SU football’s #700 in school history. Shafer acknowledged the accomplishment after the game saying how much the win means to the program and its storied history. Shafer also mentioned giving the game ball to Sue Edson, whose husband Rob passed away earlier this week. The Edsons have been a part of the SU family for years. Shafer used the motto “Get number two for Sue” to motivate the players before the game.
Syracuse heads into the bye week looking for how to attack #3 Clemson. The Dome will be packed and SU has some winning momentum to hopefully make a major splash to start the ACC.
Posted: Zephan Mayell