Syracuse blew another opportunity for a big win Saturday, losing to #25 Pittsburgh 21-10. This game was a carbon copy of last week’s loss to North Carolina. SU faced a four-point deficit at halftime, but made nothing happen in the second half. The offense was a dud once again and couldn’t capitalize on solid performances from the defense and special teams. Let’s recap each group’s effort from this afternoon and give them a final grade.
Outside of a Rex Culpepper bomb to Taj Harris, the offense was a non-factor. Tommy Devito had 32 passing yards. That’s right, a power five starting quarterback had 32 passing yards. Kenny Pickett threw for that much in one single play. Devito was running for his life all day and Pitt’s d-line was living in the backfield.
The run game was slightly better, but could it have gotten worse? Thirty-four carries for 51 yards today for the Orange…not great. Jawhar Jordan led all runners with 13 carries for 40 yards. On the bright side, true freshman Sean Tucker was a spark off the bench taking 4 runs for 23 yards. However, for the second week in a row the run game was inconsistent.
Finally to the receivers, Taj Harris had over half of the 120 passing yards on a 69 yard catch-and-run touchdown. Anthony Queeley was the next best producer finishing with three catches for 18 yards. For the second week in a row, the tight ends were nowhere to be found. It’s almost as if they didn’t make the trip. Luke Benson is making more plays in punt coverage than in the receiving game.. that’s unacceptable.
What more could Tony White’s unit do to give Syracuse a chance to win. When the defense needed to step up and make stops, they did. They forced two missed field goals and forced two more turnovers behind another stellar performance from Mikel Jones. The sophomore had a fumble recovery on a backwards pass and grabbed his second interception of the season at a critical point in the game. The defense continues to lead this SU team and unfortunately the offense isn’t contributing.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Andre Szmyt buried his one and only field goal attempt from 26 yards, but did send a kickoff out of bounds. Nolan Cooney did well to flip the field position. He downed two punts inside the 20-yard line, which theoretically should lead to some points, but Devito and company seem to have other plans.
Nykeim Johnson struggled in the 1st quarter dropping two punt returns, but turned it around in the second half. He had two opportunities totaling 25 yards, one for a 17 yard burst. A big punt or kick return from Johnson could go a long way for a Syracuse team that struggles to put up points.
Syracuse drops to 0-2 with the loss, but once again was competitive and had every opportunity to win. The Orange play Georgia Tech next in the much anticipated home opener in the new and improved “Dome.” Unfortunately fans aren’t allowed to attend the game, but maybe the home atmosphere can pump some life into Syracuse’s offense.