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D.A.’s Knee-Jerk Reaction: Syracuse Crushes UConn & Coach P at Dome

Kevin Rivoli/AP Photo

The Orange rolled to a 40-10 victory on Friday night, putting SU at 3-4, 2-1 in the Big East. Both units looked dominating over the Huskies. Here’s my instant analysis:

  • This was huge from a historical stand point. Doc Gross continues to tell anyone who will listen how much better off this program is then it used to be. Whether he’s right is all a matter of when you draw the line. Is it a stronger program than where Groobers left it? Of course. Robinson – no matter how many times people say what a nice guy he was – left the Orange in a garbage can, on fire. It’s clearly better now. But is it better than when Coach P was fired? That’s debatable. But beating Pasquoloni handily, and continuing UConn’s awful start, helps build the argument that P’s time has come and gone.
  • From a bowl perspective, this was a vital win. At 2-4, needing to reach 6 wins, the Orange had to find 4 wins in 6 games down the stretch to be eligible for the postseason. While a trip to struggling Mizzou no longer looks impossible, it’s certainly no slam dunk for the Orange. If you assume a loss in Columbia, then SU had to go 4-1 in the Big East entering the night. Now make it 3-1. Losing to a bad Huskies team at home would’ve meant running the table in conference the rest of the way. Never going to happen. Bowl pace is still in play. The Orange must go a reasonable 3-2 the rest of the way.
  • How about that offense? There were huge chunks of yardage to be had all night, and the much maligned Nathaniel Hackett deserves some praise. His play-calling has been crucified recently (especially after some awful decisions last week in the red zone). Friday night he was excellent, mixing run and pass effectively.
  • Look at Jerome Smith, running like a young Larry Csonka. He averaged 7.0 yards per carry for 133 yards on the night, and found that extra burst to get by the initial line of defense. Everyone got into the act, as the Orange gained a ridiculous 251 yards on the ground. Smith ran like a locomotive.
  • Endangered species watch: Ashton Broyld. AB carried 11 times for 58 yards. Hey Hackett, what the hell were you doing with this guy the last two weeks? The mystery continues. Don’t tell us that he “didn’t fit into the game plan.” Every time he touches the ball there’s a potential for a big play. Why did they bury him the last two games?
  • Ryan Nassib had a beautiful game, not having to do too much. He found Lemon and Wales numerous times in space, and never forced the ball into bad spots. That’s the passing attack we need to see more of. Forget trying to make Nassib Matt Barkley, thank you very much.
  • The Fizz created the category KYP’s last week (Kill Yourself Plays). Look at the totals tonight. While the Orange had two more penalties than UConn (8-to-6), the Orange committed two fewer turnovers (2-to-0). When you out gain the opponent by 200 yards, and have a wash in KYP’s, you’ll win that game handily.
  • Should we be worried that BOTH Ben Lewis and Devante McFarlane are done for the season with surgeries for upper body injuries? Neither has played in any games so they’ll be redshirted, no problem. But how does two young players both sustain season-ending upper body injuries WITHOUT getting onto the field? Was it conditioning? Was this McFarlane’s shoulder injury from months ago? I like both these players, so I’m a little discouraged that there’s a rash of upper body surgeries that have to happen within their first few months in the program.

Posted: D.A.

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