What Just Happened?

I wrote the Syracuse Season Preview over at Just Call Me Juice a few weeks ago. Let me point you towards one specific part of it:

Game you are most excited for?
Washington. First game of the season. It will set the tone for the entire year. Both schools are in a very similar place (fallen programs, in the rebuilding process, untested QBs, coaches with warm seats about to get hot). This is our chance to set the tone, beat a BCS school and make Orange fans believe that we actually do have a shot this year at getting back to .500.

Game the scares the hell out of you?

Washington. What if we lose 55-10?

Um...I'm didn't predict the exact score but...I wasn't that far off. Good God. For weeks, Cuse Nation has been watching the rest of the college football world call Syracuse horrible, picking them to finish last in the conference and possibly not win more than 3 games. All the while, we smirked, cause we knew the defense was improved, Andrew Robinson was going to be able to handle the offensive scheme, the offensive line would be improved and the team was more likely looking at 5, possible even 6 or 7 wins.

I don't want to jump to too many conclusions after one game, but, were we that wrong or did we just fool ourselves the way any good fanbase lets themselves be? I mean...the offensive line, the running game (or lackthereof), the big plays given up on defense...my God, this is the same team! They're not any better!

And there was so much promise in the 1st quarter, wasn't there? By the end of the quarter, Robinson has a line that matched the stats Syracuse quarterbacks usually ended up with at the end of the game the last few years. But they couldn't finish. And what we didn't realize at the time was that this was the quintessential "You Are Not Going To Win" video game-game. If you were playing this game on PlayStation, the game gives you 1-2 drives to get some points and build up a cushion before it decides you are not going to win and its going to score at will. The only hope you have is to score a lot before that instinct kicks in. Syracuse couldn't do it. And then the game, or in this case the Huskies, clicked in.
By the time the 2nd half started and Washington exploded for two quick touchdowns, it was too late. Even in the video game, when the game starts letting you come back in the 4th quarter, its usually too late, and so it was in real life as well.

So all of that aside, let's talk about what was good, what was bad and what was downright oogly.

The Good
  • Andrew Robinson on the 1st Drive - Before the Sack Exchange opened, Robinson looked about as solid as a first-time starter can running a complicated offense.
  • The Kicking Game - Once again, it will be the highlight of our season. Fuuuuuuck.
  • Sean McDonough - Classy in the booth, very underrated.
The Bad
  • The Uniforms - How much more Orange could the uniforms be? None. None more Orange. Um...I'm gonna give you a B for trying but let's get some offsetting colors in there next time, okay? Please?
  • The Dome Attendance - Look, I get it. I can't say for sure that I would have shown up either if I was living in the area based on the last few years. But it was the nationally-televised, first game of a season with high expectations. It was such a great opportunity to showcase not only the team but also the fanbase. Oh well.
  • Patrick Shadle's Stomach - Was he smuggling members of MiniKiss under his jersey??? Put down the fork, Pat.
  • Sean McDonough's Boothmates - The strangest thing was their predilection for wanting us to go for it on 4th down in the 1st half from our own 40 instead of punting. The highlight of the broadcast was when the "always interesting" Colin Cowherd said all coaches are under pressure to win right away since coaches like Charlie Weis and Urban Meyer did it. McDonough then corrected him by bringing up Greg Schiano, Frank Beamer and a few other coaches who went 5-6 years before winning. Double word score, bitch!
  • Andrew Robinson's Nerves - I'm not gonna knock the guy, I'm be crapping my pants in his position. But it was all over his body. He was twitching, double-checking his surroundings and flinching...you could see the nerves dripping off of him. He's gotta work that out quick...although with this offensive line I'm not sure how.
  • Receivers' hands - No improvement in ball-handling. What the fuck have they been doing in camp?
  • Andrew Robinson's Fire - When he finally hit Mike Williams in the endzone for a touchdown with 7 minutes left in the game, Robinson came off the field clapping. I don't know about you but I don't want a leader who's happy with a garbage-time touchdown. I want a leader who's pissed off that he couldn't have thrown three more of them sooner. It was the kind of reaction that comes from a "culture of losing" as they say. It was a "be happy that you at least did something positive" reaction. We're so fucked.
The Ugly
  • The 2nd Half - Washington was toying with us. Absolutely toying.
  • The Offensive Line - They aren't any better! How is that possible!?!?
  • Andrew Robinson Running - Am I crazy or where there plays designed for him to run? What idiot drew that up? (Wait, don't answer that...)
  • The Running Game - My God...
Again, I'm not trying to be Chicken Little here but...if this is it, forget about the six wins. Forget about four. This team is moving backwards. And apparently, it was everyone else who was right and we were just blind.

Believe me, I want to be wrong. But next week we're going to a sold-out stadium to play an Iowa team with a bad taste in their mouth from last season. We have no offensive line. We have no running game. Our receivers can't catch a ball thrown more than ten yards downfield. Our kicker can out-eat the entire Iowa defensive line at a buffet. You might not want to watch.

As a final note, the broadcasters got into a discussion near the end of the game talking about the surest sign of a poorly-coached football team. Offensive penalties. Say no more, guys, say no more.

(AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

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