Syracuse felt the weight of expectations coming in. Starting the week as an underdog, with the fans wanting to know who would start at quarterback, the pressure was on Dino Babers and company to perform on the road.
The Orange answered. Although it wasn’t the prettiest of performances, there were plenty of positives. Let’s work through what went right for Syracuse.
First and Foremost, a Win!
Look, Syracuse was 1-10 last year. That was SU’s first road win since November of 2019 against Duke. A victory against a team expected to compete for a MAC championship is a great way to begin the season on the right foot, and the Orange also escaped without any major injuries. We can’t complain that much.
DeVito Ready to Duel
Head coach Dino Babers said he would use a “two-quarterback system” against the Bobcats, working both Tommy DeVito and Garrett Shrader into the ballgame. Well, Shrader didn’t see time until mop-up duty. DeVito was just 11-17 for 92 yards, but unlike past years, he looked confident and composed in the pocket. He got the ball out quickly and scrambled when needed. Credit the offensive line as well; DeVito was only sacked once. OC Sterlin Gilbert also took advantage of DeVito’s athleticism, dialing up multiple QB run plays, zone reads, and options. This is a great stepping stone.
Sean Tuck, Mack Truck
DeVito didn’t have to do much because Sean Tucker had the game of his life. The second year freshman from Maryland ran for 183 yards on 25 carries, working as a tone-setter early on, picking the offense up when momentum was scarce and pushing every pile. Tucker ran aggressively, and the Ohio defense really struggled to tackle once he got a full head of steam. Again, credit to the offensive line for the holes they paved for SU’s run game. Tucker broke stuff off to the second level because he was untouched at the line of scrimmage.
Fueled Front Six
Ohio’s strength was supposed to be the run game, and Syracuse’s defensive front shut it down. Second-team All-MAC back De’Montre Tuggle only ran for 56 yards. SU linebackers Mikel Jones and Stefon Thompson were streaming sideline to sideline, and Marlowe Wax was cracking pads at the line of scrimmage. Expect this unit to be Tony White’s leaders going forward.
The DUCE is LOOSE
Last but not least, Duce Chestnut was exceptional. Eight tackles, a pass breakup and a pick in his first collegiate game when Ohio made it clear they were staying away from Garrett Williams. It was clear on the first drive why Babers made Chestnut CB2, and until Syracuse faces a really dangerous passing game (which isn’t going to happen until ACC play), Chestnut is going to be pushing for ACC freshman of the week.
Syracuse plays Rutgers at the Dome (with fans!!!!) next week at 2:00 PM.