If any game was an epitome of what the season has been, it was certainly yesterday’s embarrassing performance against the Cardinals. Originally, this game was pegged as a potential win for the Orange on its quest to six wins. Now, finding a fourth win seems impossible. The slaughtering that a third-string quarterback put on the Orange defense was inexcusable, and when #1 Clemson comes to town next weekend, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Carrier Dome was half-empty after yesterday.
Ultimately, the Orange fell 41-17 after finishing the first quarter leading 10-7. So how did the Orange get outscored 34-7 in the following three quarters? It was a combination of poor play by freshman quarterback Eric Dungey, Swiss cheese defense, and poor coaching.
It’s easy to forget that Dungey is a true freshman, as he is clearly the Orange’s best and most-important player on offense. However, he showed his first signs of growing pains yesterday, as he threw for just 158 yards while completing just half of his pass attempts. He threw two picks and no touchdowns. One of these was a very bad pick six that changed the momentum of the game. He stared down his receiver and the pass was easily jumped and returned. Furthermore, Dungey continued to take hard hit after hard hit and was left down on the turf late in the fourth quarter after taking a shot. Zack Mahoney finished the game for SU.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Orange was even worse. Louisville thrashed the defense for 579 total yards, including 217 on the ground. Third-stringer Kyle Bolin threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns against a porous secondary. The worst part was that SU’s defensive backs never even turned to play the ball on numerous downfield throws. Instead, the corners were turned around and gave up big play after big play through the air. And the run defense was even worse. Brandon Radcliff dominated in the second half, rushing for 117 yards on just ten carries. Jeremy Smith added another 71 yards on 13 touches.
Lastly, the coaching was just awful again. Scott Shafer grossly mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, sound familiar? He also called for a questionable fake field goal when the Orange was down big in the second half, instead of giving Riley Dixon a look in the second quarter. Shafer opted for a 52-yard field goal try instead, which was missed. On top of this, Shafer has to protect his quarterback, and he and Tim Lester need to sit down and realize that they are jeopardizing the future of the program when they call options that leave Dungey defenseless. It’s tough when Shafer is coaching for his job, but letting a quarterback take hit after hit will not win you a game.
Ultimately, it was another abysmal performance in a season that keeps getting worse and worse. Next week the Orange faces the top team in the country at the Dome, and simply put, it will not be pretty. SU has dropped six in a row.