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Fizz 5: Syracuse Being “In It” at Death Valley Doesn’t Cut It

It’s time for Syracuse to start winning, not just “being in games.”

News flash: Scott Shafer hates losing.

Syracuse football’s head man feels bad for Orange fans. So bad, he managed to remorse following SU’s 16 – 6 loss to No. 21 Clemson Saturday.

“I apologize to the Syracuse faithful because we’re going to get this thing right and we’re going to beat these teams eventually. We’re just a little bit away right now, but we’re going to get this thing right.”

Yeah, Shaf, five losses in the program’s last six tries are not fun to watch. For the first time in Shafer’s tenure Syracuse lost a game in which it led at halftime. The Fizz dives into another frustrating Orange performance using the Fizz Five.

Memorial Stadium was unreal:

What a scene from the start. Every one of the 80,031 fans in attendance lit the stadium up hours and hours before kickoff. Syracuse’s first ever trip to Death Valley is one to remember in terms of all-time great atmospheres. From the Tigers charging down the hill to the incredible marching band, everything was impressive. Even if Shafer gets things right in Salt City, it will be very difficult to top Clemson’s environment.

Clemson’s defense proved its Top 5 rank:

When you hold a squad to singular yardage in any quarter, your defense probably had a great game. Clemson’s ferocious D-Line was too much for the Syracuse offense. Just 170 yards of total offense for the team not wearing orange. SU may have edged the Tigers in turnovers forced by one, but timing is everything. Clemson forced it to screw up at vital spots during the game.

Long struggles handling pressure:

Not so sure if AJ Long still thinks an ACC Championship is in the cards very soon after Saturday night. We saw Long scrambling on the first play from scrimmage and it was all downhill from there. He was uncomfortable for the first time really when he’s been in action. It’s encouraging that AJ has the ability to make plays with his feet, A.K.A. create something out of nothing, but teams like Clemson can pummel you when you try that stuff. People might forget Long threw just one interception in his junior year of high school. He’s got four now and he’s been sacked five times. Syracuse should be happy Long and the rest of the offense escaped Death Valley healthy because more injuries are the last thing it needs.

Enough of these “moral victories”:

Shafer hates these. We should all hate the use of the term “moral victory” going forward. Syracuse is never going to get over this hump with that attitude. Shafer as well as Long will be the first to admit they are not satisfied. It’s time to get off the excuse train. Injuries to skill players and personnel changes, just to name a few, are not valid reasons for failures. These things happen to all programs. What’s clear is the Orange offense still isn’t working schematically. The bright 7-5 regular season record last year hyped Shafer’s 8-win label to start the 2014 season. Execution needs to happen in order to consider these high expectations.

Short-term memory is important:

Let’s take away some good things from Clemson. 1) The defense steadily improves every week. Tough to match the scoring it put up at Wake Forest. 2) Cole Murphy’s leg has been awesome. SU obviously isn’t leading at the half without the swing of his right foot. Add a few more bright spots, its possible Syracuse lost by only ten points. Shafer was hard-heartedly satisfied:

“I liked our toughness and resiliency throughout the course of a very difficult, physical football game.”

But he hates losing, so he is not satisfied. Now the Orange has to win three of its last four games to go bowling for a third straight year. A tough task is in front of it. Games like Saturday prove being in it becomes sickening. Time to start racking up some W’s. Good thing this brutal stretch is over and the schedule lightens up to close the season.

Posted:  Brendan Glasheen

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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