Not the fastest of starts to a Saturday college football afternoon, but the Orange prevailed in a solid victory over the Demon Deacons to even its record at 4-4. SU controlled the second half at its own pace after a lounging in the first. Scott Shafer said postgame SU expressed its will with long drives in the 3rd quarter leading to both of its touchdown scores. Shafer noted the strong cast of characters he has in his seniors. He said they have brought the group closer together following disappointing outings like the one against Georgia Tech. Time to break down the main takeaways from SU’s important conference W.
- Terrel Hunt Struggled in a Boring First Half, But Stuck with It
The sophomore QB had the luxury to watch film with Donovan McNabb the latest jersey retired in the Carrier Dome rafters. The former Pro Bowler watched film with Hunt prior to the game Saturday, and one thing that stood out was Hunt’s patience. Although neither team got on the board and there plenty of three and outs, Hunt stayed persistent. As for throwing the football, he continues to struggle. At some point Hunt has to polish the passing game, but give him credit for working with a forever changing receiving corps in terms of depth chart positioning. It’s encouraging to see Hunt bounce back from a rough half. The rebound proves he’s playing in the moment and focusing on what he can control in front of him
- George McDonald Reveals Flashiness from the Playbook
The double-reverse touchdown pass, WR Jarrod West to freshman Brisly Estime for 25 yards, midway through the 3rd quarter caused the Dome to erupt in shock and joy. Shafer had no intention to run the play in the game. He said, “in practice it looked terrible. I said we wouldn’t use it this weekend… but it worked.” Shafer laughed afterwards, and that play gave the Orange the overall last laugh. What was clearly evident was both Shafer and McDonald felt the team needed a spark. The creative play call paid off.
- Freshman Duo Estime and Isaiah Johnson Explode Big Time
The Fizz predicted before the start of the season that Estime and Zeke would shine in their freshman campaigns. Both have steadily come along, but undoubtedly Wake Forest was their breakout games. Estime caught a career high nine balls for 62 yards, including West’s trick play. Johnson recorded a sack and grabbed his first career interception to set up SU’s second score. This pair has filled in huge voids on this football team. Estime has played significantly in a depleted receiving corps, with an underperforming West and injured Adrian Flemming. A bit surprising Ashton Broyld wasn’t used very much, but Estime fit in seamlessly. As for Johnson, he was a beast on the defensive line. His activity was outstanding and performed like every play was his last. A former 2-star recruit, The Fizz covered Johnson’s college recruiting extensively, and saw a special talent in the making despite the low star-ranking. It’s just one game, but Johnson’s act is a sign for things to come. SU’s freshmen were very crucial to this win.
- SU Defense Earned Second Shutout of the Year
First time since 1997 the Orange has blanked a team twice in a season. SU’s defense played gritty and paid close attention to detail. It caught a break when Wake’s top WR Michael Campanaro left in the 1st and did not return due to injury. Some stats from SU Athletics:
-the Orange held the Demon Deacons to 213 total yards (60 in the second half) on 72 plays (3.0 yards per play).
-Syracuse forced 12 Wake Forest punts, one shy of the Orange opponent record set by Holy Cross in 1968.
-the Demon Deacons were just 4-for-18 (.222) on third down.
QB Tanner Price couldn’t get anything going. Price led some solid drives down field, but couldn’t take the next step and make the big play. Shafer rewarded his defense after the game:
“We gave the game ball to the defense. I like defensive games. Reminds of games from back in the day.”
Syracuse should continue to ride its defense. It’ll need it heading into the next few weeks with difficult road contests.
- A Bowl Game is Very Realistic
The Orange improved to 2-2 in ACC play, but the number everyone cares about is two wins from bowl eligibility. SU has a pair of games left on the road and at home. Syracuse has a chance to finish 7-5 or 6-6. Maryland next week is a tossup. #2 Florida State seems like an obvious loss based on Jameis Winston and the Seminoles amazing season. Then SU plays two home games during Thanksgiving week against Pittsburgh and Boston College. Perhaps the Wake win bridges the gap to a winning season. Bottom line is Syracuse impressed after being handed a whooping. There’s a lot to look forward to as the season comes to a close.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen