Once again, against a team in another tier than itself, Syracuse never put up a fight against No. 4 Florida State. The offense was lethargic, and the defense did everything it could, but often that was not even enough as the Seminoles thoroughly dominated the Orange at Doak Campbell Stadium. On another afternoon when Dino Babers’ program it proved it was still probably closer to the bottom of the ACC than the top, let’s check out the report card.
Dino Babers: D+
In-game decision-making has never been Babers’ strong suit, and punting on 4th and short on the opening drive of the game, only for FSU to then drive down the field and take a 7-0 lead set the tone for the afternoon. For Syracuse to have a chance in this game, the Orange needed to score first, and when Florida State went up, it never looked back. Babers never made any other crucial decisions, but the tone that set made an impact for the entire 60 minutes.
Jason Beck: D
Syracuse’s offense took two to three drives to get in any sort of a rhythm, and yes, it’s hard to get into a flow when you’re only getting one or two sets of downs, but SU’s playcalling was doing nothing to help its offense get the ball downfield or get players into open space. On the few times it did, the Orange were able to pick up chunk plays and get themselves into second or third and manageable. But, it took too long to get to that and Garrett Shrader’s decision-making to tuck and run after one read is partly to blame on the guy coaching him.
Rocky Long: C+
In terms of actual performance, the defense performed admirably for the talent they were up against, but critical coverage miscues hurt Long’s grade here. On numerous occasions, Keon Coleman was matched up with a cornerback or safety one-on-one, more often than not Isaiah Johnson, and it did not work. Especially with Johnny Wilson out, he had to be the focus of SU in practice all week and for there not to be a more concerted gameplan to stop him is troubling.
Garrett Shrader: C-
Shrader played one of his worst games of the season against Florida State. He had happy feet in the pocket, if his first read wasn’t there he tucked and ran, and his decision-making was not up to his usual standards. It’s clear that against tougher opponents, his highwire act is much more difficult to sustain, and defenses have an easier job identifying his moves. Adjustments during the bye week are going to be crucial to SU’s success the rest of the way.
LeQuint Allen: B+
Allen was really the only bright spot on the Syracuse offense, running hard, breaking tackles, and catching passes out of the backfield. He ran with a purpose, got north and south, and did what he was asked. For the Orange offense to be successful, it still seems like there’s more to exploit by getting Allen on the perimeter, because he does get caught up between the tackles and isn’t the biggest of backs.
Marlowe Wax: B
As the leader of the defense, he’ll always appear on the report card, and there’s not much to dissect with the SU captain. His defense played admirably in the first half, and aside from a big Keon Coleman plays, held the Seminoles out of SU territory and when they got in it, the Orange made a couple of big fourth down stops. It was not close to perfect, but once again the Syracuse defense kept the offense in the game for the most part, and the other side of the ball could not hold up their end of the bargain.
Isaiah Johnson: D
As the main cover corner on Coleman and a captain, Johnson gets the brunt of the blame for allowing 100+ yards and a 50+ yard touchdown in the first half. No, he is not the sole reason Syracuse had a tough time covering one of the best receivers in the conference, but he was matched up on him plenty, and for that reason, his grade is as low as it is. A better performance is expected from someone who is counted on every week to match up with the other team’s top receiver.