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Fizz 5: Allen, Ashton, the Pistol & Other Important Pieces of Syracuse’s Loss

How to grade out a rough day through the air for the Orange?

Syracuse fans waited months in anticipation for the season opener against Penn State, and to see who the starting QB would be. Drew Allen and the rest of the Orange offense knew, but that still didn’t help. SU fell 23-17 in a game that featured bruising defenses, and tepid offenses. Syracuse could only muster 260 total yards. How did Syracuse look in the opener? Here’s The Fizz Five takeaways from the Meadowlands.

  • The Communication Needs to be Cleaned Up

Even though the first quarter was scoreless, the SU offense moved efficiently at times and Allen looked comfortable under center. He started the game 6/7 for 67 yards. The problem was the rest of the way he completed just ten of 30 passes. He admitted his chemistry with his WR’s was shaky down the stretch.

“I felt like there were times when we showed a lot of great things, and then there were times when things weren’t so great. And I felt during those times it was when our communication broke apart.”

We know Drew Allen has a ton of fight in him, and is a gamer. He is a born and bred Texas football player, and never takes a play off. He has a non-stop motor. But does that intensity turn to frustration? It certainly looked like it judging from his demeanor on the field. And that’s to be expected. There were definitely times though, especially in the fourth quarter, when it seemed like he and his receivers were on different pages. It’s the first game, with a new QB and coach, and there is going to be an adjustment period. What Allen needs to do is sit down with his WR’s and find out how they can work together more effectively. This team had two opportunities in the final five minutes needing only one score to win it, and could barely pick up a first down.

  • Allen is Still Your Starting QB

Despite the numbers, Allen is the guy next week. And the following weeks as well. This is not the time to yank him and swap in Terrel Hunt. Hunt most likely knows the playbook a little better, but the former Oklahoma gunslinger can make the adjustments necessary for Northwestern. You need to give him more than one game to prove himself. According to Shafer, Drew isn’t going anywhere.

“He’s a winner, I like the way he competes. I liked his moxxy, I liked his energy, I liked his fight. I liked the way he listened to details on the sideline.

There should be no blanket analysis about Allen after one game. He displayed a lot of good things: he’s very comfortable with the quick three step drop back, and found a lot of open receivers in the flats early in the game. He needs to do a better job progressing through his reads and options. Many times he would lock onto one side of the field, and it burned him, particularly when he threw his first interception late in the 3rd quarter. Shafer expects these mistakes.

“We had a kid start at QB that hadn’t played since high school. Now, I thought the kid did a good job for the most part… He hasn’t played much football over the last few years, it’s not easy.”

  • Leave Ashton Be!

Broyld belongs at wide receiver. He is most dangerous when he can work in the slot, and sometimes even on the sidelines. He needs to stick with one position, though. Shafer and the coaching staff seem to be doing just that. Stop bouncing Broyld around at different positions. There is no precedent. See what happens when you give him legitimate playing time: 4 catches for 46 yards. He reeled in a 27 yard catch down the middle of the field in the 2nd quarter and broke a few tackles later in the third for a 14 yard pick-up. Give him the opportunity. Doug Marrone dangled playing time in front of the Rochester native, but now finally he has his chance to shine.

  • What Happened to the Pistol?

Many imagined SU was going to feature a pistol formation look. George MacDonald had talked about it for months, and during the first half of Saturday’s game, it looked pretty sharp. Allen seemed very comfortable under center, and Jerome Smith benefitted the most of all the running backs. Then it almost disappeared in the second half. Syracuse couldn’t get much of an intermediate passing game going, and it would have been preferable for MacDonald to try the pistol more often later in the game. The offense really only created one touchdown (Allen’s 55 yard bomb to Jeremiah Kobena followed by Smith’s TD run). The other score came after DE Robert Welsh intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it to the PSU goal line. At the end of the game, the play calls became too conservative.

  • The Orange has its Return Men

In his first year, there is one thing that Shafer has nailed right on the head: special teams. Ritchy Desir is the best punt returner for this squad because he takes care of the ball. He’s a natural. Another special teams stud was George Morris II. The kid has great talent and speed, and Shafer knew he needed to get him reps. Morris had two 35 yard kick returns, and he and Kobena make a nice duo at the goal line.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

24 Comments on this Post

  1. Desir’s biggest ability is sure hands. After that its a debate about his ability to pick up significant yardage. Of course there is no one picking off the opposition gunner to give Desir a bit more breathing room to sight a return path

  2. Smitty Section 129

    Tough loss. I was there and I thought the crowd was 60-40 not 70-30 as Brett Axe said but he’s negative anyhow. Loved how most people stood most of the game unlike the dome. Offensive play calling was very sketchy at best. We lack playmaking WR’s and that was exposed. Defense played great look for reddish to start over Anderson next week. We need to run the ball. Simple. Kobena needs to play more WR he is able to spread field but needs to run better routes. Morris looked very good as well as Broyld.

  3. Chris Section 148

    I was there as well and thought the crowd was 80-20. Personally, they also need to sit Broyld down and talk about his lack of discipline. Let’s just hope they come out and play well against NU/

  4. I believe the biggest problem Syracuse had yesterday was the lack of the WR’s understanding the routes they were suppose to take. Allen was throwing to a spot and no one was there to catch the damn ball. Lack of communication.

    I really hate saying what I’m about to say but here goes. I’m hoping that the team isn’t begrudging Drew Allen for getting the starting role as QB over Terrell Hunt. I hope for goodness sake that the team isn’t divided and starts to argue during practice and drives a wedge only making the divide even wider.

    The team looked real flat,almost like they didn’t want to be there.

    Sorry but that’s what I’m feeling.

  5. 5’11” 176 lb N/R (RB) Ervin Phillips out of West Haven HS–West Haven CT. Committed to Syracuse Sunday afternoon bringing our total to 11 commit’s as of 9/1/2013.

  6. Your observations about receives not at the spots was very evident in the las t two drives…I thought it was bad play calling as well. They were working the clock but had time. Short outs to the side lines made sense. They go down the field?Problem..Allen was under heavy pressure. Where was the protection.
    All and all I thought Allen did “OK”.
    The offensive coordinator, the line and the receives gave him little help.

  7. Smitty Section 129

    Terrible play calling by McDonald but it was his first game calling a game and we were all over Hackett last year before the offense took off. SU needs a special teams coach, this coach by committee is working. We need to rebound and beat Northwestern. The defense is very solid, we just need a WR to step up but we may not have that a guy so the power football may be our answer. Great game we had the ball with a chance to win with 2 mins. left if we drive down and win everyone is praising this team but they never gave up, I loved the fight in them.

  8. Again media who wrote about the game as though they were there!!!!!!!!!!! Well I was. SU looked totally unbalanced. Great “D” like hell. Where were you Kevin when PSU got that easy TD over the middle to Robinson. We supposed to have experience DB’s, but not on that play. PSU’s RB was nothing. Wait until we see Clemson, FSU, NC,NCS, and GT then you’ll see quality RB’s. Please report real facts. Yes SU stoped the running game, but PSU had no real RB to speak of!!

    Sorry Kevin but Ashton was right the team just didn’t show up at all for this game. It had no real fight from what I saw from my seat. Interceptions that were caught by 300lb OL. WR being caught from behind(thought he was one of SU’s fastest out there). Yes Ashton blew it on a play and he has to stop that, but I wish more had that controled fight in them. I really think the WR’s should be minorally to blame in the passing attack. Allen just stunk up the place. Could not dodge rushes or passed over heads or passed 4 yrds before the WR. I saw that did you Kevin?? GEZ!! This was a team SU should of beat and it didn’t because it played very poorly. But the LB corp from my seat played their hearts out. I really love those guys!! Even the in-laws started to call them LBU’s!! LOL!! Please report what really happened. Very little. ST mised fg and a muffed punt are no god either. KOFF’s were a no show to. What was so great about this game??? Get Morris off ST and start him at RB. That might shake up the others.

    Sorry just tired about not reading what happened at Giant Stadium!! I was excited about the LB play and the Uni’s really sparkled out there to. But really shocked me was the BOO’s that rained down on the CUSE at the start. That was kind of shocking!! I read while in NJ, that Obrien PSU HC stated he though the sanctions(schollarships) against PSU were too tough and players can get hurt for lack of bodies. Yeah right when that poor defenseless kid was getting raped and “WATCHED” by a PSU staff you think that didn’t hurt that kid. DO NOT listen to this BS. PSU should pay more in my mind. And yes it hurts that SU didn’t kick their A$$ for such thoughts. Sorry again. Must be I’m sober now!! LOL!!

    Can’t wait for NW game?? Where’s the Coconut Rum???

  9. @Terry;

    I saw everything that you saw and I come to the same conclusion as you,Syracuse played lousy. I could add on some more things that I noticed during the game,but what’s the point? It’s not going to accomplish a thing. This weekend ought to be real interesting. Let’s see if they improve or not. I really thought Shafer would have brought in Hunt for the second half.

  10. Kevin Fitzgerald

    Chris:
    Desir had barely any running room yesterday, but has the ability the break a big one. Did it last year against UConn. He is there most significant home run threat in return game.

    Smitty:
    I’ll say this, this WR group has potential to be as good as last year, but there weren’t many clean routes yesterday. Intermediate passing game was almost non-existent, a lot of short gains, and credit PSU D. NW does not have as supurb of a D as Nittany Lions have.

    Ron/Terry:
    Allen looked frustrated, and there were some times when he and his receivers were running different routes. That’s all true. But Allen, for at least the first four games of the year is still the guy, and they need to get on the same page.

  11. Isn’t it ironic Terry that Kevin would put you and I next to each other in responding to our post?

    How dare he do something like that without our permission? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

    That’s funny man,real funny. I needed something to laugh about today and the good Lord provided me a reason.

  12. Smitty Section 129

    I agree with TERRY when your at the game you see different things then watching it on TV. I do disagree with TERRY on the Defense didnt play well. They created three turnovers, 2 int and a fumble recovery. They stopped them Penn State twice in the last 5 minutes to give the offense a chance to win. They played well. A Penn State fan behind me said WOW does that SU defense swarm to the ball. We lost because wee couldn’t score and lacked the big play. Is the big WR transfer from Arkansas that bad as I saw up to 5-6 WR play over him Saturday. My guess is something else is up with his playing time and it has nothing to do with his talent. Maybe some investigating reporting could find the answer. What I saw from the WR group was that they were not able to really distance themselves from the DB. I think our kickoff return and coverage did a nice job. They even have Broyld on the kickoff team. I think Reddish needs to start over Anderson as Anderson got burned on the first TD.

  13. Smitty I agree of the 3 positions the “D” played the best on Saturday. But and a big but a FR Scared QB, a RB that wouldn’t make SU’s RB team and their WR Robinson only played the 2nd half!! All three of these issues made the “D” look ok. Come on Welch INT would never happen at that time to a seasoned QB. No INT and the game was worse, granted, but really was it a life saver for SU, nope SU lost!! Look out NW is coming up at their barn. They are 3 times better than PSU. Should be 4 times better, but I hear there is injuries on NW that will effect some of their starters. I see NW a 25 point favorite!!

    Ron your just starting to make sense now!! LMAO!!!

  14. Boston Jay

    I think we lose 37-17 if Allen Robinson plays the whole game, we had no answer for him.

    Great play by Reddish, but getting tackled by an O-lineman was killer.

    Drew Allen didn’t impress – ~190 yards on around 40 attempts is ugly. If you aren’t an instant impact guy as a one and done, what’s the point?

  15. @Terry;

    I’ll remember that remark Terry the next time you and I get into a disagreement on a matter that concerns Syracuse Football.

    Over the last 3-5 years you and I have had some good discussions Terry. We didn’t always agree,but I felt they were good talks that brought out some different points of view. But for kevin to put our names side by side in a response to us is funny man,really funny. I think the kid has a set of brass balls.

    See Terry,one of the main differences between us is,I have a sense of humor that allows me to laugh when I think things are funny and you don’t. I’m still laughing every time I read that response.

  16. Ron,a couple years on this board have created an “unlikely?”bond with even those we don’t usually agree with but respect their dogged determination and love of Cuse!Terry’s tendency to say plainly whats on his mind earned my respect long ago!Not to mention he knows quite a bit about the game of football which to Terry and I is always #1!We enjoy BB but it just ain’t FB!I think I can speak for Terry on that?….Ron,next up….NW!I don’t know why we can beat L’ville,WVU and other good teams but we act like NW is ND or FSU?We can win this game tho its on the road!!Although last year we were home and had Nassib!Many think Dougie saw this year coming and flew the coop while the Iron was hot?

  17. Russell Stugots;

    Russell,don’t take my statement on the differences that I made between Terry and I the wrong way.

    I’ve come to understand him better than most on this board. I didn’t like the response the “Dipper made to him last week and I let everyone know that a response like that was uncalled for and over the line.

    Look,Terry has some interesting points,but I don’t see anyone other than maybe Malone questioning any of his comments. I will and have in the past,because I believe that it brings out things,for discussion, that I never would have thought about.

    I respect his opinion and everytime that we do debate a subject,we’ve both have kept it clean and cival to one another.

    Russell,I agree with him more than I let on. Everyone that knows me will tell you that I have a weird sense of humor. I felt that Kevin putting our names side by side was funny man,funny. Seeing it in print just made my day.

  18. @Russell Stugots;

    One of the things that both Terry and I strongly agree on,is Marrone bringing in Greg Paulis for one year to play football. We both thought is was a horrible mistake and a waste of time,ending in a 4-8 season.

    I hope that we’re NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF ANOTHER “PAULIS EXPERIMENT” with bringing in Drew Allen from Oklahoma. If he struggles this Saturday against NW,then I hope Shafer has enough smarts to do the right thing and bring in Terrell Hunt as the QB. If we’re going to go through another 4-8 season,then why not let Hunt get the game experience he needs to improve to help the team?

  19. @Russell Stugots;

    Russell, don’t you find it funny just how the media reporting on an individual makes you feel. The reporting on Drew Allen,his size and strenght led us all to believe that he was the second coming to Donovan McNabb and was going to conquer the world. Well he didn’t show that against Penn St and the feelings that I had about this young man have changed and that makes me sad real sad.

  20. Sounds like a lot of excuses and belly-aching from all the people who said Syracuse would be 4-0 before Clemson.

    I’ll say again what I have been saying for months. They are who we thought they were… which just happens to be bad.

    Drew Allen cant throw the deep ball, Jerome Smith cant do anything because our receivers suck and they stuff the box against him and the defense can only hold the other team to so many points before the offense has to contribute SOMETHING.

    @Ron – ” Allen was throwing to a spot and no one was there to catch the damn ball”

    IT WAS USUALLY THE OTHER TEAM OR OUT OF BOUNDS. HE CANT THROW AN ACCURATE BALL PAST 10 YARDS. WHY DO YOU THINK HE WAS A 3rd STRINGER HIS WHOLE CAREER

  21. Just want to throw this out there…but it was McFarlane who was back for kickoffs with Morris.

  22. @Andrew;

    WHAT MAKES A GOOD QB IS A RECIEVER THAT GOES TO THE BALL. Any QB worth his salt is trained to throw to a spot,and the reciever is trained to go after and get it. that’s foofball 101 for goodness sakes.

    I guess the way your talking Andrew that 55 yard completion to Jeremiah Kobena,is not considered a long ball. Is that correct?

    I will agree the Orange definitely didn’t look good in it’s excution last weekend against Penn St. But please remember Penn St didn’t beat Syracuse,Syracuse beat themselves.

    I predicted a 9-3 overall season for the Orange this year. I’m sticking to my word because you see,I believe this team has the talent and the coaching staff to accomplish that goal. What did you say your prediction for 2013 was? I don’t remember seeing it here in print!!!!!

  23. @Ron

    “I guess the way your talking Andrew that 55 yard completion to Jeremiah Kobena,is not considered a long ball. Is that correct?”

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while

  24. @Ron

    My prediction for Syracuse has been and still is 5-7.. and I am doubting that right now

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