As the calendar flips to October, Syracuse football has provided as many moral victories as actual wins. After this week’s loss to NC State, it’s pretty clear what SU’s identity is at this point: a team that has made strides to hang with good competition, but not quite good enough to actually get over the hump, unless its offense wakes up in the first half. While the conference-opening loss solidified what this team is, we did learn some more about the Orange this week.
Eric Dungey Is All Grown Up
Over the last two weeks, the Orange has played far superior opponents. Eric Dungey has also thrown an interception on his first pass in both games. Despite the early punches in the mouth, the junior has responded and then some. Dungey could easily become passive with deep shots and other passes, but he continues to be the aggressor on offense. He backed it up again with fearless runs in big situations, most notably his Superman-esque two-point conversion. Syracuse has stood against a double-digit deficit in each of the last two games against more talented teams, and Dungey has sparked the offense. Now, the quarterback needs to put together a full game offensively. But it’s tough to blame him given that only two wideouts have emerged as legitimate receiving threats.
Kendall Coleman Is The Most Important Non-Linebacker On Defense
To say the Orange struggled to finish tackles against the Wolfpack is a gross understatement. Countless missed tackles led to Syracuse allowing by far and away its season high of 260 yards on the ground. With Kendall Coleman out this past weekend due to a death in the family, the Orange truly missed his presence. Entering the game, Coleman was the team’s third leading tackler and was a big part of SU’s stingy run defense. However, that seal has been broken these past two weeks. The common theme? Coleman has been absent. The sophomore went down with an injury against LSU and then missed the NC State game. Over the last two games, SU has allowed a total of 411 yards on the ground. Coleman’s presumed return this week should certainly improve the rush defense.
Chris Elmore Is Being Misused
I wrote earlier in a similar column about how Chris Elmore would be a fan favorite, and that probably hasn’t changed in the minds of SU fans. However, the Orange is not using him right. Elmore’s primary purpose on offense is using his big 280-pound frame to pave the way for running backs or getting carries in short yardage situations. But what Syracuse has done with the freshman is split him out wide like a receiver. That simply isn’t what Elmore is. When this happened multiple times against NC State, the defensive backs were playing about 10 yards off of him. SU is playing 10-on-11 offense when Elmore is used as a receiver and is tipping its hand for offensive play calls. When used appropriately, Elmore is a great offensive tool to have, but if he is playing outside the hashmarks, he is useless.