Despite a 2-2 record, it‚Äôs been a bit of a rollercoaster season thus far for SU football. From an emotional loss to Middle Tennessee State in week 2 to a shellacking of Central Michigan in week 3, it‚Äôs been hard to tell just the kind of product Dino Babers was able to put out on the field, that is until this week. Even though the Orange couldn‚Äôt quite pull out the upset win over LSU in Death Valley, there was a lot to be excited about, so here are the three biggest positives from SU‚Äôs loss to the Tigers:
Going into the LSU game, Steve Ishmael had certainly been impressive, reeling in over 100 yards in each of the first three games of the season. With that early success came comparisons to Amba Etta-Tawo‚Äôs record-shattering 2016 campaign. However, all of that early-season success had come against non-Power 5 talent and amid drop and turnover issues. Coming into the weekend, there were still a lot of question marks surrounding just how effective Ishmael could be. There are no longer question marks. The senior put an absolute show against a program that has been known for producing outstanding defensive backs (Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and Morris Claiborne come to mind), going for 11 catches, 132 yards, and his first touchdown of the season. With the scoring monkey off his back and his top 5 standing in the country in receptions (1st) and yards (3rd), those comparisons to Etta-Tawo are warranted.
The Front Seven is Legit
As we mentioned in our quarterly report card of the defense, we knew the linebacking corps was going to be a strong unit once again. What we didn‚Äôt know is just how well the entirety of the front seven would perform. The defensive line was dominant on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, consistently getting pressure to LSU quarterback Danny Etling. Chris Slayton was especially impressive for the Orange, wrapping up a front-four high six tackles on the night. Kendall Coleman also put in a good performance, picking up his first sack of the season. As for the linebackers, well, they were nothing short of spectacular. Parris Bennett dominated the Tigers, racking up a team-high 12 tackles, including 3 for loss. If SU can continue holding prolific running teams like LSU to yard totals like 151, then the rest of the season is looking bright for Dino Babers and company.
¬†Syracuse is Punter U
Everybody knows about Riley Dixon (cough, cough), but maybe you should get to know Sterling Hofrichter. Just two weeks removed from walking out of the back of the end zone for a questionable safety, the sophomore punter put together an absolutely masterful performance in Death Valley. Averaging 46.7 yards per kick, the Florida native landed five of his seven punts inside the twenty, including four inside the ten. One of those four landed at the one-yard line and set up the Syracuse safety that nearly swung the game‚Äôs momentum. While the legend of the 44 and running backs is certainly the most important part of Syracuse football‚Äôs storied history, if Hofrichter continues to play like he did against LSU, there may be another position group that the word Orange becomes associated with.