After a couple of days to process Friday night’s loss to Clemson, the sting hasn’t quite gone away for Syracuse. Let’s take a look at some of the key figures that led to SU’s demise.
Quarterback Garrett Shrader’s 20 incompletions on Friday night were as large a reason Syracuse lost as any. Whether they were the product of an off night for the Syracuse passing game or just stingy Clemson defense, the Orange couldn’t attack through the air. Shrader finished 17 of 37 passing for 191 yards with one touchdown and an interception. However, 62 of those yards came on a single fourth quarter touchdown to Trebor Pena.
Shrader’s 45.9% completion percentage is the third-lowest total for any Syracuse passer with at least 30 attempts since 2000. Only Zack Mahoney (44.4% vs. FSU in 2016) and Tommy DeVito (45.2% vs. Notre Dame in 2018) had less efficient games during that span. Interestingly enough, both passers suffered through those games running Dino Babers’ offense. To find the next player who had as shaky a game under a non-Babers offense, you have to go back to 2007 – in his only year as a starting QB, Andrew Robinson completed 46.9% against Rutgers.
Six is the number of consecutive games Syracuse has lost without forcing a turnover on defense, including this Friday against Clemson. The Orange are 0-2 this year when lacking a takeaway (they had zero against Rutgers as well), were 0-2 last year, and 0-1 in both 2019 and 2017.
Funnily enough, the last time the Orange won without forcing a takeaway was in 2017 against none other than the Clemson Tigers. Syracuse rolled up 440 yards of offense in that game and lost just a single fumble in what was otherwise a flawless performance. SU wasn’t quite as sharp this time around and struggled to stop unspectacular-but-efficient days from QB D.J. Uiagalelei and RB Kobe Pace.
Syracuse is now 6-19 since 2010 in games without forcing a turnover.
With another L on Friday, Dino Babers now has 32 conference losses since taking over prior to the 2016 season. The Orange have lost at least six ACC games every season besides 2018 and this year, but Syracuse is 0-3 to start 2021’s conference play. SU is now 20-47 in the ACC since moving over from the Big East prior to the 2013 season. SU can’t consistently beat teams within the division, and it’s made stringing wins together a big challenge.
Babers’ .289 in-conference winning percentage is only slightly better than Scott Shafer’s .280 ACC mark (7-18 from 2013-15) and worse than Doug Marrone’s .393 (11-17 in the Big East from 2009-12). On a positive note, Babers is still doing better than Greg Robinson, whose reign of terror from 2005-08 produced a 2-25 record (.074 in-conference winning percentage) when vacated games are taken into account.
Finally, you’re not wrong if you feel like it’s been a while since the Orange played so many close games. It’s the first time in 40 years – going back to the 1981 season – since Syracuse has had at least three games decided by three or fewer points in a season.
In 1981, the Orange suffered through a 4-6-1 mark in Dick MacPherson’s first season as head coach. Coach Mac’s career began with the first of those three-point losses with a 29-27 defeat to Rutgers. SU also lost games 17-14 at Illinois and beat West Virginia 27-24 to end the season. SU also tied 17-17 that year with Maryland for a technical fourth game decided by three or fewer points.