Boston College put Syracuse’s once promising season out of its own misery Saturday with a 42-14 throttling in the Dome.
The blowout loss means Syracuse has now failed to win a game after its bye week and failed to win a game since losing star quarterback Eric Dungey to injury for the second straight year. However, make no mistake, for the second straight year, SU’s disastrous finish was not because Dungey wasn’t out there. It was because its defense simply imploded down the stretch yet again.
After a strong start to the season defensively, we all assumed the 76 point days of Pittsburgh last year were over. But, sadly we were all terribly wrong.
The 42 spot BC hung on SU Saturday now means the Syracuse defense has allowed a whopping 162 points in just its past three games. That’s an average of 54 freaking points per game. To put that in perspective, Alabama has allowed just 112 points this SEASON heading into Saturday.
So what exactly happened to this once good Syracuse defense? How on earth could the Orange be so bad all the sudden?
For starters, there is a systematic issue to some degree. It’s time to rethink the zone-heavy scheme a little bit. I mean it’s like watching the same movie on replay. Each week SU gets burned by a tight-end or running-back in the flat and consistently leaves the middle of the field open for receivers to get open between the numbers.
I get the concept of the Tampa 2 style of zone defense. It’s meant to prevent big plays and I realize SU is not strictly playing zone coverage. However, the holes in coverage are just too glaring at this point and it’s time to make some changes. BC or any opponent for that matter doesn’t need big plays when it can consistently find a weak spot and get an average receiver open on every single third down. And the sad thing is BC’s offense isn’t even known for passing. The Eagles had a backup quarterback and virtually no playmaking wide receivers on the field. But it didn’t matter because SU simply couldn’t get any pressure on the quarterback and saw its depleted secondary get exposed all afternoon as a result.
Granted Brian Ward was doing a good job at the beginning of the year and injuries have certainly hurt the Orange. Also, SU’s defensive coordinator has yet to be able to use guys he recruited to play in his system. But all that being said, there simply has to be some form of change. We’re two years in now and the proof is in the pudding. It’s time to admit defeat and go to more man coverage. I’m not saying strictly man but at least a higher percentage, especially on those third and eight type of plays that BC was converting at will.
Look, like any football game there were some silver linings on Saturday. Rex Culpepper was pretty solid in his first collegiate start. Moe Neal continues to develop his all-around game. Steve Ishmael likely clinched a spot on an NFL team heading into training camp and Erv Philips capped off his impressive career with another strong game.
I still believe Dino Babers is the answer and believe in what he is doing. I love his offensive style and really like his coaching mindset. Babers has turned the SU football program into a brotherhood and he’s bullish about the future.
“I really believe that the 2018 season is something we’re gonna be talking about for a long, long time,” the second-year head coach said after the game.
But, even with Babers offensive mind calling the plays, the SU defense needs to drastically improve next year in order for the program to take that elusive step. Stronger recruiting classes and more experienced players will obviously help the defense grow. However, the latest pathetic performance against Boston College Saturday is just more proof that SU isn’t going bowling anytime soon unless it tweaks its zone-heavy scheme.