Saturday was more of the same for Syracuse: a solid defensive effort for most of the game, undermined by a pathetic offense. The Orange mustered a mere 10 points and fall to Duke, 27-10. The loss puts SU’s season officially on ice. A 3-7 record means the Orange will finish below .500, and won’t be bowl eligible. But ultimately, that’s the fate they deserve.
Sure, Scott Shafer’s bunch has been hit hard by injury. And no team is comfortable relying on the backup to a true freshman at quarterback who opened the season third on the depth chart. But despite the quarterback injuries to Terrel Hunt and AJ Long, combined with the failings of Austin Wilson and Mitch Kimble, the offense has been a putrid work in progress all season.
Maybe this has to do with Shafer being a defensive-minded coach, without the natural ability to fix offensive problems. Maybe an inexperienced offensive coordinator in George McDonald undercut whatever progress they could’ve made. But the face is, SU can’t throw the football and can’t score points. And that’s a deadly combination in today’s NCAA.
Here are the point totals for SU’s conference games: 20, 6, 20, 30, 6, 17, 10. Not surprisingly, SU is 1-6 in those games. The one win coming when the Orange “exploded” for 30 points. There was no home field advantage whatsoever this season. The Orange finished 1-6 at the Carrier Dome, with the lone win coming against Villanova – a game they chould have easily lost at the end.
Shafer was asked during the press conference about whether this season has been a disappointment. Shafer responded saying “We wanted to win eight,” then slammed his fist down on the podium and said “and we didn’t win eight so we’re disappointed.”
With two lame duck games left at Pittsburgh and Boston College, Shafer will have some serious evaluating to do at several positions. “This is going to give us a little more time in the offseason to look at some things and take our time with our recruiting process and find silver linings in it.”
Shafer smacked the podium so hard in the postgame that he cracked it. Obviously he’s frustrated, and fans like that passion. But now the podium knows how SU fans feel about the current team.