“Football is a game of six-inch wars. We just came up six inches short.”
Coach Shafer repeated this in his press conference following Syracuse’s 17-16 loss to Pitt.
Another way to say this: Shafer’s team didn’t take advantage of opportunities. In a one-point loss like this, you can immediately point to the missed extra point on the first touchdown of the game.
Other ways to say this: three dropped touchdown passes. Yes, there were three: Devante McFarlene dropped one, as did Quinta Funderburk and Durell Eskridge. Then you could look to a few passes that weren’t thrown well—the flea flicker to Chris Clark comes to mind. Or perhaps some defensive plays, like Dyshawn Davis not picking up a loose fumble, Marquis Spruill going for a hit instead of an interception or Durell Eskridge slipping when his shoe came off and failing to make an interception.
Football is a game of opportunity, and the Orange missed many earlier. If the Orange had made any one of the plays listed, it could have won the game. Davis picks up the fumble, it would have kept a touchdown off the board for Pitt, and Syracuse wins 16-10. Eskridge hangs on to the touchdown, and Syracuse wins 23-17. Ryan Norton’s PAT doesn’t get blocked, and the game goes into overtime. Or if he doesn’t push a field goal wide right from the left hash, Syracuse wins 19-17.
There were plenty of opportunities for the Orange to win the game.
As for next week and becoming bowl eligible, it could be a tougher task than it sounds. Of course the game is at home and Boston College’s talent is comparable to Syracuse’s. But after the game, everyone seemed down. Coach Shafer seemed defeated speaking at the podium. Terrel Hunt was extremely disappointed after his best performance in ACC play. After allowing 25 yards on 25 carries, Ri’Shard Anderson had trouble coming up with more than a two-word answer for how they were so successful.
Overall, the team seemed so downtrodden, more so than after any other loss. This was the Orange’s closest game of the year, and it was a winnable game as well.
Now the Orange needs to bounce back to play Boston College next week to become bowl eligible—and then hopes that a bowl wants it after the ACC tie-ins are taken up.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg