I guess we‚Äôre really never sure which Orange football team is going to show up week-to-week. Syracuse‚Äôs waxing of Central Michigan was by far and away its most impressive game of the season. In fact, it might have been a top three performance by SU during the Dino Babers era. There‚Äôs a lot of game balls to distribute, but here are the three components that stood out the most:
Using Weapons At The Goal Line
Against Middle Tennessee State, Syracuse really struggled to put the exclamation point on drives. This week was a completely different story. Eric Dungey was very good in the red zone both with his arm and his legs. He found Dontae Strickland on a quick check down with open field in front of him. But the biggest takeaway from the Orange‚Äôs goal line play was Dungey finding his new tight end Ravian Pierce. The JuCo transfer used all of his 6-foot-3 frame to elevate and score on a 6-yard pass. Pierce should continue to be a major threat near the goal line as the season progresses.
Getting The Big Play
With an offense that moves as quickly as Syracuse‚Äôs, you would figure that defenses would fatigue enough to have mental lapses or lose guys and allow the big play. Against MTSU, that did not happen. Nobody had a catch of more than 16 yards and SU‚Äôs longest run was Dungey‚Äôs 29 yard touchdown. Part of that can be attributed to the Blue Raiders crampings (or lack thereof) that slowed the Orange‚Äôs offense. This week, the Chippewas didn‚Äôt employ the same strategy which allowed Syracuse to reel off some huge plays. Dungey and Moe Neal each busted off runs longer than 70 yards. Sean Riley added electricity to the Orange in multiple phases. The sophomore had a 41-yard run off a reverse, a 44-yard reception and a 64-yard kick return to set up scoring plays. This might cause more teams to try to slow SU‚Äôs high-octane offense with phantom cramps.
Defense Came To Play
The unit that has been the most consistent all year is the defense, specifically the secondary. Despite Antwan Cordy‚Äôs absence, the defense has looked great through three games. Aside from the long touchdown, they looked strong all game long including the two interceptions (one that went for a touchdown) and a fumble right at the goal line near the end of the game. From midway through the second quarter and on, SU pitched a shutout. Next week comes the first big challenge for the Orange defense when it travels to Death Valley and takes on one of the best running backs in the nation in Derrius Guice.