The no. 2 Seminoles may have handed the Orange an expected whooping Saturday 59 ‚Äì 3 at Doak Campbell Stadium, but Syracuse knows its biggest challenges are before it. The nation‚Äôs second-highest scoring offense accumulated over 500 total yards and controlled the entire game. Florida State officially ran the table in the ACC with the win and sets itself up very nicely for a chance to play in the BCS Championship Game. As for Syracuse, Scott Shafer and company understand the Noles are on a completely different level than most teams‚Äînot just in the conference, but in the entire country:
‚ÄúThat’s one of the best football teams I’ve seen in my 23 years coaching. Most positive thing I get out of this is now we know where the bar is set and what we need to try to do in the next few years to try and compete against a team of this caliber.‚Äù
Shafer added in his post-game presser the importance of the Orange‚Äôs finish to the season:
¬†‚ÄúWe’ve got two games left in the Dome, and that’s key. We’ve got to get this Pitt outfit in the Dome and go to war right away. It’s going to be a big game for both sides, and we look forward to jumping ahead to that game as quick as possible.‚Äù
This coming Saturday features a pair of 5-5 teams with bowl hopes on the line. We know how ugly the weekend was for Syracuse, and what fans want to really know is how the team plans to rebound. Strap into the Fizz Five now to learn how Syracuse has the road to get back to its previous success.
Syracuse No Longer Faces Any Top Quarterbacks
Just when we thought Tajh Boyd would be the only national name the Orange had to prepare for, Syracuse got a taste of Jameis Winston. The freshman star did indeed suit up despite rumored allegations against him earlier this week, and Winston didn‚Äôt miss a beat. He finished with 277 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-21 passing. Winston was actually pulled in the third¬†quarter, when the Noles’ lead was to 38-0. Both Clemson and FSU have dynamic, explosive offenses from top to bottom, but it all starts with the man under center. The fact Shafer and Chuck Bullough don’t have to prepare for a quarterback with a similar body of work must be a relief.
Young Guns Emerge in Ground Game
It wasn’t the Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley show over the weekend. George Morris II and Devante McFarlene led the Syracuse running game as best as they could. GMII rushed a career-high 21 times for his own best 67 yards. McFarlene tallied a new personal record of 81 yards on the gridiron. You can‚Äôt read too far into at the end of the day when the ball failed to progress downfield for Syracuse, but this is great for developing confidence. Smith got just five touches and PTG left the game and did not return due to a lower-body injury. Smith hit on being beat post-game:
‚ÄúWe played a damn good football team. They’re No. 2 in the country for a reason. We didn’t do enough; they did what they were supposed to do. They were faster than we thought. They were stronger than we thought. They were good.‚Äù
Smith’s limited reps should give him some fresh legs for Pitt this week. Gulley may be a different story. Credit Shafer and George McDonald for getting the younger guys out there to break some tackles so they‚Äôre ready to be called upon as the season comes to a close.
Syracuse Defense Should Remain Confident
Florida State has scored at least 41 points on every team it has played this season. It‚Äôs the first ACC team ever to score at least 40 points in 10 straight games. It may be tough to recall that this same SU defense had allowed just 3 points in the last three weeks prior to playing FSU. Syracuse has to stay hungry and confident on defense. It‚Äôs been the team‚Äôs motor all season. Defensive lineman Jay Bromley spoke highly of Florida State:
¬†‚ÄúThey’re stacked across the board. They’re probably as fast as we’re ever going to see on the college level. They’re a solid football team. If you can’t score the ball, you can’t play with this team. You really have to be sound on defense and try not to give up the big play. And, offensively, you have to force them to stop you.‚Äù
Two Shots, One Opportunity
Syracuse has two shots and one opportunity to go bowling this season. A pair of games slated at the Dome sets up the season‚Äôs end nicely for the Orange. It has to be careful as Pittsburgh comes in this week hungry for that sixth win. QB Terrel Hunt played for only the first half of the game Saturday. Even he, despite being outmatched once again in the quarterback battle, has moved on from the loss.
‚ÄúIt would be more of a bruised ego if we lost to a team we were better than, but we lost to a better team. You accept it, you move on. … We want to go 2-0 in these next ones.‚Äù
Hunt‚Äôs words stand out because he‚Äôs not just focused on getting one win. He has the mindset to win both and get to seven wins. Good to hear those types of words from a young quarterback who‚Äôs been criticized since his better performances early in the season.
Pitt Is No Slouch
Again, the Panthers are coming in at the .500 mark as well searching for a bowl clincher as well. Syracuse has had recent success against Pitt. It got its first Big East win last year against these Panthers. Head coach Paul Chryst has a tested bunch. Even though they are coming off an ugly loss to UNC, Pitt hung with Notre Dame a few weeks back. The Syracuse mindset, without a doubt, is to get that sixth win. Boston College comes in after the Thanksgiving holiday with a monster RB in Andre Williams. Will Syracuse go bowling after this coming weekend‚Äôs results? We‚Äôll wait and see.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen