Week 1 in college football is always interesting in that it can say a lot, but never quite tells the full story. We learned a lot about what the end result of Syracuse’s 2023 campaign might look like based on the dominating victory over Colgate as well as some out of town results. After the dust settled on Monday night, it was clear that the Orange have no business not being in a bowl game, based on how they and some of their future opponents played.
It doesn’t matter that it was done against an FCS opponent, if your offense breaks the program record for yards in a single game, you expect that unit, barring injuries, to pose a threat to defenses for an entire 12-game slate. Garrett Shrader’s mobility and elbow looked excellent. LeQuint Allen and Ike Daniels both displayed poise carrying and catching the football out of the backfield. Oronde Gadsden balled out as usual, Damien Alford had the first touchdown of his career from less than 45 yards out, and the rest of the receiving corps showed flashes of brilliance. The offensive line will at minimum make us sweat as the schedule gets tougher, but Jason Beck’s unit looked awesome in his first game as offensive coordinator.
On the defensive side of the ball, the 3-3-5 looked both stable and formidable. For all the talk about this offseason about replacing lost secondary members, Jeremiah Wilson and Greg Delaine introduced themselves to the Syracuse faithful with highlight-reel interceptions- one was a pick-six, another was diving. Additionally, the defensive line backed up its talk about the depth of the unit on Saturday, bottling up the run and forcing Colgate QB Michael Brescia into an uneasy day. The defense’s play as a whole was never a gigantic concern, especially when you factor what the unit did throughout last season, but putting up a goose egg is never easy, regardless of opponent.
Finally, so many of Syracuse’s future opponents fell flat on their faces this weekend. Next Saturday’s Purdue game in primetime has been tabbed as a tough one that could also fall under the must-win category. Well, the Boilermakers lost to Fresno State at home, there’s no reason SU can’t win at Ross-Ade Stadium too? Additionally, Boston College lost in Chestnut Hill to a Northern Illinois team that went 3-9 last year. Oh boy. Finally, Clemson looks a lot more beatable after Duke won in rout fashion Monday night. It’s one thing to say all this, it’s another for the Orange to go out and take care of business. But it doesn’t look so daunting anymore, at least after one week.
The penalties are certainly an issue and cannot happen as we move down the schedule. If they’re the reason SU doesn’t make a bowl then that is so awful, because based on what we saw this weekend on Ernie Davis Field and fields across the country, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be lining up the pins come late December.