Two weeks after the Orange defense held one of the best teams in the country in check, they were exploited by an inferior South Florida offense. Syracuse’s defense was gutted as the Bulls had their way with the Orange both on the ground and through the air.
There is no way to say it other than to just say it; it was a bad lose for Syracuse. The Orange are now facing an uphill battle to get to the six win mark as the remaining seven games see them play Florida State and Clemson and have to play a few ACC road games.
However, all hope is not lost. Actually far from it. After a (very) slow start, Eric Dungey had an overall solid game, throwing for over 200 yards and completing over 60% of his passes. Obviously, this is a good sign as the freshmen is continuing to develop. However, what is somewhat disconcerting involving the Syracuse offense is the absence of the run game on Saturday.
The team had 73 yards on the ground, and the team’s leading rusher was Dungey with 31.
However, the poor ground game was not the reason that the Orange came out of Tampa with a loss. That responsibility falls on the defense that had played so well two weeks earlier. USF racked up 541 yards of total offense, 282 on the ground, en route to 45 points.
Despite the poor performance, the Orange were right in the game and would have had a chance to get the ball back down one score if not for a thoughtless penalty. After giving USF a second chance, the game unraveled and the Bulls waltzed to victory.
The good news is that this was one game. There is no reason to panic just yet. The Orange did not play well and still could have come out of Tampa with a victory. They will have to play better on Saturday against UVA. There is little reason to think they can win with such a porous defense, but the Orange defense has shown that they can hang with the best.
Saturday’s game has essentially become a must-win and despite the performance this week, there is no reason to abandon hope on the Orange yet.