After six games, Syracuse is a respectable 4-2. The only problem? SU closed out its first half of the season with back-to-back loses. The bye week is when every football team takes a look in the mirror. Honestly, there’s a lot there for Dino Babers and company to like. But let’s be honest, that overtime loss to Pitt has left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Here are Syracuse’s three biggest problems and what the team needs to do to address them before North Carolina comes to town.
1. Will somebody please stop the run
If you’ve watched any Syracuse football in the past two weeks, you know why this tops the list. The Orange hasn’t been able to stop anybody on the ground recently (Disclaimer: these stats my cause nausea. Please don’t read if you are already feeling ill). Against Clemson, Travis Etienne ran for 203 yards (7.5 per carry). The following week, Qadree Ollison ran for 192 yards (8.0 per carry).
That’s not even the worst of it. Syracuse has let up an average of 279 rushing yards in the past two weeks, an average that would put them three spots from dead last in the entire FBS. Don’t get me wrong, the Syracuse defense has looked good at times this year. Given the personnel they lost, I’d say things have gone fairly well. With that said, it’s time to change things up. SU has too good of a defensive line to be this bad at stopping the run. Whether it’s applying more pressure on running downs, or making personnel changes, something needs to be done during the bye week.
2. Zero wins after the bye in the past two seasons
This problem doesn’t pertain to this year’s team, but rather the entire Syracuse program. The Orange hasn’t won a game after the bye week under Dino Babers. That needs to change. Before the season, Babers was transparent about the issue, saying he and his staff had made some adjustments in the offseason. So far, we haven’t seen those changes come to life. It all starts on the defensive side of the ball, where the defense started fast and is beginning to fade, just like it did last season.
The problem in the past is that once the bleeding started it never stopped. After a thrilling win over Clemson last year, Syracuse never won a game. Many wanted to see SU beat Pitt before it fully bought in. Well, that didn’t happen. Now we have to wait and see if the Orange can prove those doubters wrong after the bye.
3. Getting the offensive rhythm back
For some reason, the offense seems a tad out of rhythm right now. Eric Dungey hasn’t been great recently, completing less than fifty percent of his passes last week against Pitt. Syracuse has to do a better job of getting its playmakers out in space and letting them do what they do best.
Don’t get me wrong, Dungey has been great at times this year, but is there a situation where this team is better with Tommy DeVito getting some of the reps? The redshirt freshman is a more accurate passer and could bring something different to the Orange offense when it needs a spark. That’s not a move I expect them to make soon, but at some point it might not be a bad idea to try and shake things up.