The running game looked great, the defense looked shaky, and Ryan Nassib had a quiet afternoon. In other words, this game was an anomaly for the Orange; however, just like it did against Akron and Maine, SU blew out Colgate 42-7. For the second straight week, Syracuse needed a strong second half to demolish its FBS opponent. SU led 14-0 at halftime only after a late first-half touchdown by Antwon Bailey, but outscored Colgate 28-7 in the final 30 minutes for its third win of the season.
Good Morning Running Game…
Breakfast is on the table. Today we’re having a big, heaping plate of DC3 touchdowns. The running game was supposed to be the focal point of the offense this season. In the first three games; however, it was a nonfactor and SU seemed to have developed a penchant for throwing the ball. Not today. Delone Carter rushed for a career-high 172 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries for the ‘Cuse. Prince-Tyson Gulley finished a distant second to Carter with 41 rushing yards and one touchdown (the first of his career). The Orange ran for 249 yards against the Red Raiders—pretty impressive especially considering it was averaging 130 rushing yards-per-game before today.
How was the passing game? Ryan Nassib, who has headlined the SU offense thus far, finished with a quiet 169 yards on 8-15 passing. Carter was on a roll, though, so it was good that Syracuse kept putting the ball in his hands.
I guess it’s time for me to eat some crow. I didn’t think Nate Eachus was going to have much success against SU’s defense—which has been very good at defending against the run under Scott Shafer. Eachus, who was averaging 139.5 yards-per-game, rushed for 147 today. That is the most rushing yards for an individual player against allowed by the Syracuse defense during the Shafer era. Hey, I did almost get the final score right, though!
Speaking of poor defense, Colgate’s reliance on its running game helped the Red Raiders maintain possession of the football and frustrate the clearly not-there-yet Orange defense. What is especially troublesome is the fact that Colgate was 4-7 on fourth down conversions. Much of this has to do with some atrocious tackling. There were times when the Orange had four or five defenders near the football and nobody could make a tackle. You have to give credit to Dick Biddle for being so aggressive in his approach. (Side note: Although ‘Gate was gung-ho about going for it on fourth down, it couldn’t have been more passive at the end of the first half. The Red Raiders didn’t even make an attempt at putting the ball in the end zone and were meandering around the field like the Eagles in the Superbowl XXXIX. Poor clock management and a rushing QB? Andy Reid would be proud.) Even in the first quarter, Biddle was snubbing his punting unit and going for it.
Colgate held possession of the football for an astounding 43 minutes and 56 seconds this afternoon (23:39 in the first half). I can’t get on the Orange too much for that; however, because those possessions didn’t lead to anything. Still, the defense needs to do a better job of tackling and stopping its opponents on 4th down than it did against Colgate because better teams will take advantage of those opportunities.
On a brighter note, Syracuse got its first two interceptions of the season. Mike Holmes returned an interception 42 yards in the first half. The other one, caught by Da’Mon Merkerson, was controversial. Merkerson appeared to be out of bounds, but the refs upheld the call and as an SU fan, I can’t complain. And while the Orange defensive may have struggled to contain Eachus, it did hold Red Raiders QB to 25 yards, about half of his season average (43.7 yards-per-game)
Penalties, Penalties, Penalties
SU greatly reduced its penalties this week, committing just five for 47 yards compared to last week’s ridiculous 14 penalties (111 yards). The yellow flags flew against Colgate, though. On a drive in the second quarter, Colgate held the ball for more than seven minutes but moved the ball just seven yards because of penalties. The Red-Yellow Raiders lost 80 yards on nine penalties.
So what does all this mean?
Although the emergence of SU’s running game and the 3-1 start to the season give ‘Cuse fans a rare reason to smile, I have a ton of reservations about this team moving forward. The Orange’s inabilities to tackle and play two halves of solid football (SU played well in the first half against Washington but went MIA in the second, the opposite has been true the past two weeks against Maine and Colgate) are troubling. Fortunately, Syracuse has a bye week next week and can work out these issues before starting Big East play October 9th against USF. If the running game and Nassib can be factors, the defense continues to make great strides, and penalties are kept to a minimum, the Orange can be competitive in Big East play. If not, things could get ugly,,,fast.
- It was truly a career day for Orange running back Delone Carter. The senior running back is now tied for eighth on SU’s all time 100-yard rushing game list with eight and 11thall-time for career rushing yards with 2,290.
- Syracuse is 3-1 for the first time since 2003.
SU has a bye-week next week. For up-to-date news on the Orange, follow me on twitter!
About the Author
Written by Beth Ann Clyde
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 and can count the number of times I witnessed the Orange win a football game on two hands.