As you know by now, Syracuse dropped its first game of the season to Rutgers this past Saturday, 17-7. There were positives as well as negatives to take away from this one. SU fans love to be cynical, but it’s worth looking on the bright side a little:
A Defense That Is Relentless
Sure, the Orange lost a game they probably should’ve won. A comedy of errors in the second half on the offensive end put a stop to any kind of momentum the team put together. Many times that didn’t matter though. That’s because the SU defense was doing its best ‘85 Bears impression. Syracuse stopped the Rutgers on 3rd down 12/15 times on Saturday, had 12 solo tackles for loss, and 4 sacks! What more could you ask for. Not to mention the first half ended in a scoreless stalemate. The linebacking unit looked menacing. Mikel Jones, Marlowe Wax, and Stefon Thompson seemed explosive, blasting through the Rutgers o-line over and over again with no regard for anything but annihilating the ball carrier. This defense bleeds excitement. Even Jones, this team’s defensive leader is impressed:
Sure, no one’s happy about the result but it’s astonishing that some are ignoring what we saw from this defensive unit on Saturday.
Dino Needs To Pick A QB And Stick To Him
Midway through the second quarter, Tommy DeVito was cruising. The New Jersey native was 7/8 for 65 yards. Good, right? Apparently not good enough. With just under 10 minutes to go in the half, Garrett Shrader, SU’s Mississippi St. transfer QB trotted onto the field to lead the SU offense. Why would you do that? Shrader didn’t get the job done either, his first drive in an SU uniform was anemic. A 4th down reared its head in a matter of 2 or so minutes. DeVito came back out in the second half but not after we saw Shrader struggle a second time. This begs the question, why? Coach Babers was asked after the game whether that decision was one he made prior to the game or in the moment. Babers’ response, “Before the game.” WHAT?! You’re saying you decided that no matter how well DeVito was playing you were taking him out? What sense does that make? This was a game Syracuse could’ve won if DeVito played the entire game. Did he make mistakes? Sure, but was his momentum ripped away from him by his head coach? Absolutely! Neither DeVito nor Shrader are Jim Kelly, but if one is playing well, why in the world would you take them out? A two-quarterback system can work, but not the way Babers tried in week 2.
Stupid Penalties Are The New Fast?
SU was penalized 8 times for 55 yards. These weren’t holding calls or pass interference calls or any other usual acceptable penalty. Syracuse was penalized on Saturday for not correctly understanding how to form during punts, for arguing with referees, for touching punt returners before the ball arrived, for intentional grounding, and worst of all personal fouls. You will not win football games playing like this. Good teams know not to do the things Syracuse did due to blatant lack of discipline and unpreparedness. Sure, some of them were questionable, such as the personal foul called on Mikel Jones and the one called on Dino Babers for arguing that call.
It doesn’t excuse how sloppily the Orange played. In week 3, against Albany, a team the Orange have no business losing against, the goal should be to not commit a single penalty.