Note: This article was written by Francesco Simone
It looked promising for a while. Syracuse jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the second quarter. The offense was humming, the defense was bending but not breaking and SU as a whole looked like a football team for the first time in almost a month. That changed quickly. Wake Forest scored 14 at the end of the first half, and dominated the second to take it X to Y. Let’s give out some grades:
Dino Babers: F
Two decisions that make absolutely no sense. For starters, Syracuse scores to make it an 18 point game in the fourth quarter. If the Orange go for two and make it, it’s a 16 point game. In other words, two scores instead of three. Why did SU kick the PAT instead? There’s no logical response. The other was wasting a timeout as the play clock was winding down on a punt. First of all, there’s no excuse for the punt team getting out that late. Still, though, why waste that timeout. Sure, Max Von Marburg’s previous punt was ugly, but not having that timeout late cost a bunch of time. A couple of really curious decisions.
Rush Defense: C+
Wake ran the ball at will. Whenever it needed a yard or two on third down, no problem. We’ve seen that for the last five games for Syracuse. The reason the grade isn’t a total failure is the average wasn’t that bad. The Demon Deacons got 4.1 yards per rush, which is not a bad effort at all by the SU defense. The issue is that on big plays-third and shorts-Syracuse could never get off the field. SU did not, by any means, dominate the line of scrimmage, but it did limit explosive plays in the run game.
Pass Defense: D
If AT Perry played Syracuse every week, he’d be the first overall pick. The receiver is an outstanding player with an NFL future on his horizon, and SU found out first hand both in this game and last year. In those two contests, Perry has six touchdowns. Duce Chestnut was too small to keep up with the physical receiver, and Isaiah Johnson wasn’t athletic enough. It’s fair to wonder if Garrett Williams were available, what kind of difference that would have made. It is certainly fair to say it would have helped, but, then again, Williams was part of the group that got torched by Perry last year, so who knows.
Robert Anae: A
If these were given out at halftime, this would have been an A+. The ball was moving down the field. Syracuse was targeting D’Marcus Adams, its fastest receiver, in the vertical pass game (finally). Damien Alford was making plays as well, and, of course, there was the LeQuint Allen touchdown throw. That didn’t really happen in the second half, but Anae gets a bit of a pass because the Orange didn’t have the ball in the second half. Wake dominated time of possession, which limited what Anae could do. Towards the end of the game, some flash plays came back, too.
Garrett Shrader: A-
QB1 was very good. It was his best performance since Wagner, and he looked healthy. Shrader was moving around well, and threw the ball down field effectively to multiple receivers. Damien Alford was targeted deep, as was D’Marcus Adams. Oronde Gadsden still ended up being the leading receiver, but he wasn’t the only option. Shrader only completed 55% of his passes, but did average over 10 yards per attempt. He threw for 324 yards, the first 300 yard performance of his career. The only real blemish was a fourth quarter pick six, which was costly, but the rest of his night was so good that it warrants a high mark.