In what could be his only game in charge of Syracuse football, Nunzio Campanile’s team got a win that means the Orange are heading back to a bowl game. It’s the first time in a decade that SU is playing in the postseason in back-to-back years, something that has to become more common under a new head coach, whenever that hire may occur. The offense hummed, the defense certainly did not but made the big play when it mattered most to get Syracuse a win. Let’s see how everyone graded out.
Nunzio Campanile: C+
He didn’t really do anything crazy in one way or another, but he sure was involved in the game planning that had Syracuse’s offense working in multiple facets, both passing and running the football. His clock management was not great, burning timeouts at inopportune times in the first half, and screwing up what should have been at least three points at the end of the half chief among them, but there was not anything egregious outside of that. He did his job as an interim head coach.
Jason Beck: B+
Beck did what we’ve been preaching for weeks: adjust off the wildcat offense, and it worked. Syracuse was successful in the run game, churning the clock, and it never fell behind the chains. Then, mix in a few throws here and there from Shrader and a couple from Alford, and you have yourself a successful game plan. Good job by Beck making those adjustments to keep the Wake Forest defense on its heels, not its toes. His offense did its job all afternoon.
Rocky Long: C-
The defense was not very good and didn’t create any turnovers to help themselves. It got helped out by some Wake Forest penalties that put them in longer down and distances but allowed a few chunk plays that set up some Demon Deacon scores. A missed field goal in the third quarter by Wake helped out too, and if not for that, it could have been a very different game. But, when it mattered most, his defense got a stop on 4th and goal, and that sealed the win.
Garrett Shrader: B
For what he was able to do, Shrader did what he could. He was not efficient in the run game and threw a bad interception, but he accounted for four touchdowns and was more active throwing the football than in the past two weeks against Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech. That ability kept the Wake defense guessing all afternoon long and was a huge reason for the success of the offense as a whole. Having the threat of running and throwing makes you much more difficult to stop, which Syracuse’s offense was compared to last week when it was more predictable.
LeQuint Allen: A
Following in the footsteps of Sean Tucker could not have been easy for Allen, who made it look about as easy as possible. He once again rushed for over 100 yards, the seventh time he’s done that in 12 games this season, and the fourth in a row to end the year. At this point, with a head coaching change, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him transfer to a bigger school where he can get more notoriety, because he is a next-level player after what he’s shown behind a poor offensive line this season. His 1,000-yard season was very impressive, and just think what this offense would have been without him after what happened over the summer.
Dan Villari: A
You just simply cannot ask for much more from this man, because he is putting everything on the line when he’s on the field. Throwing and running the football is stuff he’s now doing more than receiving, his original role. He is such a versatile player, and probably threw the best pass of the season for SU on his 47-yard moonball to Damien Alford to put the Orange up 21-10 on the first drive of the third quarter. He is everything Syracuse asked for and more with Shrader clearly still not close to 100%.
Marlowe Wax: B
In what could potentially be his final home game at Syracuse, considering he participated in the senior day walk pregame, Wax went out and played like he has all season, as a leader. He once again was near the team lead in solo tackles, and even though the defense was not perfect, that does not diminish what Wax has done this season in every game, where he has consistently been the leading tackler, forced turnovers, and kept pushing his teammates to be better each and every day.
Justin Barron: B-
Let’s show another senior some love in what is likely his final game in the Dome. Barron has been one of the other leading tacklers on a Syracuse defense that had its struggles at points this year, but continually put its offense in positions where it could have a chance. He played hurt with a club/cast on his hand for a good portion of the season, but he also played like a senior and a leader all year long and should be commended for that, despite the shortcomings this team ultimately had.