Welp. NC State proved why it is a top-25 team on Saturday, destroying Syracuse 41-17. The Orange looked like they were going to keep it interesting through the first quarter, but then the Wolfpack turned it on in the second and never looked back. SU got bested on offense, defense and special teams. To break it all down, let’s go to the handy-dandy Fizz Report Card and give out some grades:
Garrett Shrader – C-
It has taken only a few games of tape for opponents to know how to shut down Garrett Shrader. His inability to throw the ball was on full display against NC State, going just 8-for-20 for 63 yards through the air. Plus, he threw an interception and only made up for it with 70 yards rushing. Shrader only throws bubble screens or quick slants, and struggles with even those. If he’s not making an impact with his legs, he’s not making an impact.
Sean Tucker – B-
Sean Tucker was the only “bright” spot for Syracuse in this game, and bright needs to be put in quotes. He rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown. Putting up triple-digit totals and finding the endzone is now a common occurrence for Tucker, so you can’t overreact to his numbers against NC State. He did set the SU single-season rushing record, which was pretty darn cool, though.
Wide Receivers – D
The wide receivers’ lack of production falls partly on their shoulders and partly on Shrader’s. However, the wideouts just can never create separation. On deep balls, they would run stride for stride with the NC State DBs and just hope to out-jump them. On crossing routes, they weren’t quick enough to separate in time. Plus, don’t get me started on the drops. Devaughn Cooper led all SU receivers with 31 yards, that’s it…
Defensive Line – C
The defensive line was ehh. Not good, not bad. Josh Black left the game with an upper body injury and was later seen in a sling, so that’s not good at all. In his absence McKinley Williams and Cody Roscoe applied some pressure on Devin Leary. Kingsley Jonathan also had some opportunities, but could never finish the job. The d-line as a unit did it’s job and limited the run game, but came up short a couple times.
Linebackers – B
Without the linebackers, Syracuse would have lost by 50. Mikel Jones led the way with 12 tackles and a sack. Marlowe Wax was also flying all over the place. The linebackers helped Syracuse hold NC State to just 96 total rushing yards.
Secondary – D-
The secondary lost this game for Syracuse. Yes, Devin Leary is one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC and the entire country, but you cannot allow over 300 yards through the air. Nine different NC State players hauled in a reception, while six of them had 20+ yard catches. The secondary wasn’t just giving up small crossing routes; they were getting beat over the top and missing tackles. This is now back-to-back weeks that the defensive backs have been picked apart. That doesn’t bode well with Kenny Pickett coming to town next week.
Call me a pessimist, but no one deserved above a B- in this game. Syracuse has one game left to figure it out and try to become bowl eligible. The Orange need to improve quite a bit before then.