Antwan Cordy got hurt again and SU’s secondary might be in trouble again
Every Syracuse fan experienced some devastating déjà vu on Friday night when FS Antwan Cordy went down with an apparent lower-leg injury early in the first quarter. The news then went from bad to worse in the second quarter when Cordy was spotted on the sideline walking around with crutches and a boot. It was a forearm injury last year in week two that sidelined the safety for the remainder of his junior season. In Cordy’s absence, the Orange struggled to stop ACC quarterbacks all season long, culminating with one of the worst defensive performances in history against Pitt in the regular season finale. This year, Syracuse did add some depth in the secondary but losing Cordy for an extended period of time would still be a massive blow to their bowl chances. He is undoubtedly one of the most valuable players on the roster and the Orange secondary is in danger of being exposed without him yet again.
Steve Ishmael was a man amongst boys
Before the start of the 2016 season, Steve Ishmael was pegged by many as the SU receiver likely to have a breakout campaign in Dino Baber’s first season. However, that title actually went to Maryland transfer Amba Etta-Tawo and Ishmael quietly became the forgotten man. This year, though, the now graduated Etta-Tawo is no longer an option, which leaves the Orange with a huge chunk of production to fill. Many believed SU’s new number one wide receiver would be Erv Phillips. However, while Phillips did have a productive night in the slot, the bigger Ishmael was actually the focal point of the passing game Friday night. The 6’2 Miami product manhandled a tiny crop of CCSU defensive backs all night long en route to a career high 12 catch, 134-yard night. Obviously, one strong game against a lowly FCS team does not mean Ishmael is going to rival the best statistical season from a wide out in SU history. But, after Friday night, it appears 2017 might be the year Ishmael makes that leap we all thought would happen in 2015 and 2016.
SU leans on the passing game yet again
It’s no secret that Dino Babers offensive system is a predominately pass-heavy scheme and last night was no different. In a game where multiple SU receivers feasted on an inferior FCS defense, both Orange tailbacks only put up relatively pedestrian numbers. Senior Dontae Strickland compiled just 39 yards on 12 carries and back-up Moe Neal averaged just 2.4 yards a pop on 7 rushes. Those numbers aren’t abysmal and some of the blame should be placed on SU’s young offensive line for not consistently making holes. And SU’s offense obviously still had no trouble moving the ball at will all night long. However, in the grand scheme of things it is a bit concerning. If Strickland and Neal looked average against an FCS school how are they going to fare against stout ACC defensive lines? While no one believes this team needs to suddenly become a force in the ground game to score, it would be nice if SU could be a little more two-dimensional on offense when they take on the top dogs of the ACC.