That was about as hard a football game to watch as you’ll find. Syracuse gets curb stomped by North Carolina in a game that never really was one. We knew last week’s matchup with Clemson, today against UNC and next week’s trip to Florida State would be a gauntlet, but you at least hoped the Orange would compete.
Let’s hand out some (predictably bad) grades:
Dino Babers: D
Another week, and another instance of a team not being ready to play. Babers tried to switch things up by deferring to begin the game. Babers is famous for always taking the ball if he wins the toss, but he wanted to give his defense a chance to set the tone, rather than his struggling offense.
North Carolina drove right down the field on the first drive. It settled for a field goal, sure, but that was a sign of things to come. The Tar Heels came out firing and never stopped.
Then there are the punts. The most egregious being when Syracuse was down 23 late in the third quarter. At that point, it’s still a three score game, no matter how unlikely a comeback may seem. It was 4th & 6 on the plus side of the field. It just doesn’t make sense.
The one thing you give Babers credit for is the beginning of the third quarter. Syracuse came out of halftime, scored a touchdown and played decent defense for a stretch. The team could have quit at that point, but didn’t. However, it was far too little and far too late.
Yes, Syracuse was facing an NFL caliber quarterback in Drake Maye and a running back in Omarion Hampton that came in averaging over 5 yards per carry. It was always going to be a challenge based on the opponent, but giving up over 400 yards in the first half is embarrassing no matter who you’re facing.
Every time the Tar Heels had the ball, it felt like the Orange had no chance. The secondary got torched, and the front got moved off the ball consistently. Of course, defensive coordinator Rocky Long gets a share of the blame. He’s the one who’s ultimately responsible, but this felt much more like a talent gap issue than a scheme issue.
Umari Hatcher: A-
Give Hatcher credit, he showed some promise. He made an acrobatic catch down the sideline and was the only SU wideout who was open even semi-consistently. He ended the game with eight catches for 85 yards.
Syracuse is still looking for a number one receiving option with Oronde Gadsden out for the season. Hatcher made his candidacy known, but will his obvious talent continue to shine, or will the inconsistencies and drops return. Syracuse certainly hopes it’s the former because…
Every Other Receiver and Garrett Shrader: F
No separation to speak of from the receivers for a second week in a row. After the Clemson game, Babers was asked about his receivers’ ability to separate. His answer: “Not much.”
That seems like an understatement. Nobody won down the field. The only receiver who made a catch besides Hatcher was Donovan Brown, who had three grabs for 25 yards. Damien Alford, after one catch last week, had none this week. This is a football team without legitimate receiving options. The man with the second most catches was Dan Villari, a tight end who 14 months ago was in a competition to be the backup quarterback.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Garrett Shrader isn’t helping either. He finished 15/21, but only throwing for 124 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. As a passer, he doesn’t make those around him better. His arm strength has always been a question mark, and it still is. His accuracy on the run today was poor. As a runner, he’s dynamic, except for when he’s playing teams who also have high level athletes.