Dino Babers has the biggest road victory of his career as the head coach of Syracuse. Winning away from home has been a huge struggle for the Orange, and to get it done against a Big Ten team is a massive accomplishment, especially with the news that Oronde Gadsden II would be out for the season with a Lisfranc injury. A huge night for Garrett Shrader, the SU defense forcing turnovers, and the Orange program to get validation that they could win a game like this. Let’s see how everyone graded out in a massive win for Syracuse.
Dino Babers: B+
All in all, Babers had his team ready to play on the road in a hostile road environment, and he deserves immense credit for that. He dealt with significant injuries during the week (losing your best offensive skill position player and starting right tackle), adjusted accordingly, and came in with a game plan ready to deliver results. However, some of the decisions he made, like allowing Garrett Shrader to take an unnecessary hit at the end of the first half, plus the ridiculous penalties committed pre-snap or late hits was unacceptable, and continues to be a theme of the Babers at Syracuse era.
Garrett Shrader: A-
The only reason this grade is not higher is because of a couple of errant throws that could have resulted in interceptions, a few long balls that were a bit over/underthrown, or he held the ball too long and didn’t throw it away. He was terrific running the football and extending plays, and his awareness in the pocket and when to scramble was solid, he had the Purdue defense unsure of itself all night long, as he rushed for over 100 yards in just the first half. That throw on 3rd and long in the third quarter to Donovan Brown was his best of the night, and allowed Purdue not to get the ball back quickly after scoring the first TD of the second half. He targeted one-on-one matchups down the field all night, and in the second half finally started getting some pass interference calls to go with the completions as the Orange moved the ball down the field. This is the guy we all saw last year when he was healthy and SU was playing well.
LeQuint Allen: B+
Aside from a couple of runs, he bounced outside unnecessarily or a dropped pass, Allen was solid as both a receiver working with Shrader in the flat and as a runner working the read or speed option. He was decisive when he turned the ball upfield and smart with the football, and his offensive line did a great job opening up holes, especially on his touchdown in the first half.
Damien Alford: B
He didn’t do anything flashy, but without Gadsden, had to step into the number-one receiver role and did a fine job finding openings in the Purdue defense and running physically after the catch with his huge frame. He drew a huge pass interference penalty deep down the sideline in the third quarter on what could have been a touchdown and did so again on third down in the fourth with SU deep in its own end. He played his role well and did what was asked, and needs to continue to do so as this season progresses.
Marlowe Wax: A
He forced two turnovers, a fumble, and an interception, and his leadership is on display every single play as a captain on defense. Wherever he needed to be, either dropping back in coverage, spying Hudson Card, or rushing the passer, he was there for Rocky Long and made every play the Orange needed from him, just like he has all season in the middle of the 3-3-5.
Derek McDonald: A+
An unsung hero on the SU defense, he played all over the field just like Wax and made play after play after play in the running game or when he dropped back to defend the pass. All night long McDonald made plays in the backfield, in the red zone especially, bringing Mockobee or other Purdue ballcarriers down behind the line of scrimmage. He was outstanding on all fronts for Long’s defense.
Isaiah Johnson/Jeremiah Wilson: B-
Wilson got a lot of targets early in the game, and Johnson had an easing in process to the game but started to get some action when Purdue exploited the Orange defense on multiple occasions with deep crossing routes over the middle of the field. But, on shorter passes, both players were stout as a tackler on receivers or Devin Mockobee. Johnson had what looked to be a clear fumble recovery on a giveaway from Mockobee in the fourth quarter, but the refs inexplicably ruled it Purdue ball, and two plays later got revenge with a key PBU on fourth down to get the Orange the ball back. There were a couple of mistakes here and there, such as missed tackles on third down or not adjusting to the football, but it was positive for the most part.
Jason Beck: A
His play calling, especially in the first half was exquisite as he schemed receivers open down the field, got the ball out of Garrett Shrader’s hands quickly, and then in the running game working both Allen in straight handoffs, and then the option game with Shrader deciding to keep or give. He did a terrific job calling plays, the only thing he needs to do better is tell Shrader to stop taking so many hits.