A big loss to start the season isn’t something any team is hoping for. SU was defeated without reaching the endzone on Saturday. It was a competitive first half but 21 unanswered points in the final quarter were insurmountable for this Orange squad. Here are a few things to take away from the game:
The O-Line is Worse Than Ever
After a season in which Tommy DeVito took home the prize for being the most sacked QB in the country, a staggering 44 times, he came into Saturday looking to stay off the ground. That didn’t happen. Seven sacks to start the year is not a reasonable number for any team, especially one that has a hard time getting things together on offense regardless. Were some of those sacks most likely avoidable if DeVito had some more pocket awareness? Absolutely, but an offensive line featuring a platoon of Pat Davis and Chris Elmore at guard just is not going to get the job done. Last season’s move to put Airon Servais on the edge proved effective as a couple wins followed but the performance out there against the Tar Heels was pitiful.
The Defense Was Better Than Expected
Coming into this game it was expected that the Orange secondary would be the strongest part of the team. That was true, they were impressive. The Tar Heels’ Sam Howell is incredibly talented, a player that could be up for the Heisman trophy this season. For SU to pick him off twice shows some promise in that backfield. The front seven could definitely use some work, three rushing TDs were crucial in the UNC victory. Though at the same time that’s something that should be expected with this Syracuse squad. Josh Black, McKinley Williams, and Kingsley Jonathan weren’t terrible on the line but definitely proved to be a few steps down from where they were last year. SU’s linebackers didn’t have a great day, but with Tyrell Richards out, the most experienced linebackers on this squad are sophomores. So there’s some slack that has got to be cut for this defense. They showed enough potential to have a chance at being a good unit down the road this season.
The Offense Doesn’t Have A Single Weapon
To put it bluntly, this offense was hard to watch. A lot of times it was a Devito scramble play that was most effective against the UNC defense and the run game was pretty much non-existent. With both Adbul Adams and Jarveon Howard having opted-out, Jahwar Jordan is left as the team’s feature back. Having averaged 1.9 yards on 14 carries, Dino Babers is going to have to switch things up. As for an aerial attack, nothing was really there. TD13 finished the day with just 112 yards on a 42% completion rate. The offense was a huge question mark coming into this season, now it’s a huge cause for panic.
A brutal week one is behind this team. With plenty of room for improvement it will be interesting to see how the Orange adapt come Pitt in week two. The offensive gameplan could use a shakeup and so could the offensive line as a whole. If things don’t change soon, it could be a long season.