Nobody said it would be pretty.
Despite the Orange defense being a sieve and its quarterback leader getting ejected from the game, the Orange somehow came out of Friday night with a win. And just like that, the team is on its way into the 2014 season.
While there were plenty of negative takeaways, some players had impressive stat lines worth noting. It is well known that the Orange will need increased production from its wide receiver group. Despite not having any player catch more than five balls, Hunt and backup quarterback Austin Wilson hit eight different targets. Freshman Steve Ishmael got on the board in his first game with two catches. Jarrod West led the team with 59 yards and Aston Broyld was close behind with 57. Both West and Broyld need to step up in the event that Hunt is suspended.
Last season, the Orange averaged 182 yards per game in the air and barely surpassed that on Friday with 184 yards. Kendall Moore caught the one passing touchdown by way of a fake field goal that gave Syracuse the win in double overtime.
But, just like last year, the rushing and screen-pass game stole the show. Aided by a 65-yard touchdown run, PTG led the team with 100 yards on 11 carries. With 136 yards on the ground as a team, the rushing unit underperformed from last season’s 195 yards per game average. It is worth noting that both George Morris II and Devante McFarlane were ineffective, totaling four yards on six carries combined.
Defensively, the team was rather average. The unit allowed its first 100-yard rusher in over a year, when dual-threat quarterback John Robertson ran for 115 yards on 34 attempts. The defense allowed 389 total yards, the most they have allowed in a win since November 2012 at Missouri.
Senior linebacker Cameron Lynch was a defensive standout for the Orange. He registered 15 tackles and a sack. NFL prospect Durell Eskridge had four tackles on the night.
Wilson was very mediocre in his debut. The publicity that the backup QB battle gained over the summer suddenly mattered when Hunt went down. Wilson went 11-of-17 for 89 yards. Hunt was 10-of-17 for 94 yards before his ejection, which really derailed the offense.
The team will have two weeks to knock out the kinks before its road matchup with Central Michigan. While Friday’seffort is certainly discouraging for fans, look for the next game to be a lot better on all sides of the ball.
Posted by: Jason Weingold