Before the season started, almost everyone predicted the Syracuse Orange would finish somewhere between 5-7 and 7-5. If you were an optimist, you went the 7-5 route. If you were a pessimist, you went 5-7. If you were non-committal, you split the difference at 6-6.
As the season wore on, we saw the signs that this might have been a 5-7 team about to put together a 7-5 season. It might have even been a 4-8 team about to put together an 8-4 season. Regardless of how they were getting it done, we all recalibrated our expectations. Even the pessimists...most of them at least. At the very least, our floor and ceiling were both raised.
And then the last three weeks happened. With the 37-17 loss to USF, the Orange will spend another week in bowl eligibility purgatory. With a home game against the best team in the conference and road game against a school we haven't beaten since 2004 left, 5-7 is looking a whole lot more likely than 7-5, even if this topsy-turvy Big East.
All of it begs the question...is this a good team whose wheels have fallen off the bus or is this team who we thought they were (even if we didn't want to admit it) when the season started? I'm afraid to admit we can't deny the latter anymore.
I'm starting to wonder if the 2010 season and the 2011 season should have been flipped. As in, this was the year-before-the-year that we expected 2010 to be and last year was the breakout year that would have made sense in 2011. Doug Marrone flipped the script and in doing so caused us to expect more from a Syracuse team for the first time in years.
There's a lot of folks complaining about Ryan Nassib but, I mean, what do you want him to do? Yeah he's had his own issues with overthrows and decision-making. But with the lack of pass protection and dropped passes he'd had to deal with, is there another quarterback on the roster that could possibly do better? Or even half as well as he has. Even in the loss, after going 23 of 46 passes for 297 yards and two TDs, Nassib isn't the problem.
Sir Alec Lemon had a nice day for the mot part, grabbing a career-high 10 catches for 179 yards and 2 TDs, but he also dropped a third score. And he wasn't the only one. TE David Stevens dropped a TD in the end zone as well. Both drops occurred in the fourth quarter when execution needs to be 100%. And those were just the TD drops, they don't include the Dorian Graham TD drop and many others. It's an old problem for the Orange and one we had thought was over. Instead it remains as an example of what's going on with the team right now.
We will not speak of the kicking game, except to say that there's a reason we've recently brought a soccer player in to compete.
There was a lot of folks blaming themselves after the game. The offensive linemen blamed themselves for the lack of protection. The receivers blamed themselves for the drops. Other players blamed themselves for the penalties. Marrone blamed himself for everything.
Marrone said the Orange got beat in all three phases. I'd throw in that they got beat in that crucial fourth phase as well. The phase where they go head-to-head with themselves. It's a phase they've lost three weeks in a row. It's a phase that, when you lose it, it rarely matters how you do in the other three phases.
It's going to be a very long bye week break for the orange and the fans. True, the last time we came out of a bye week, we dominated the best team in the conference at the time. We'll have a chanc to do it again but it just doesn't feel the same. Hope and excitement has been replaced by desperation and fear. Fear of what it means if we lose. And then lose again.
Hopefully the players don't give in. Expect to see a lot of motivational quotes on Twitter over the next two weeks coming from the players. I doubt you'll see too many from the fanbase.
- Brent Axe's Syracuse-South Florida football recap: The good, the bad and the rest...Brent Axe
- Syracuse pass protection breaks down, offense unable to gain rhythm...Daily Orange
- DROPPING OUT: Woeful miscues prove costly as SU routed by South Florida in 3rd straight loss...Daily Orange
- South Florida's B.J. Daniels redeems himself with solid performance against Syracuse...Dave Rahme
- Marrone prepares Syracuse for final portion of season as it chases bowl bid...Syracuse.com
- USF Defeats Syracuse 37-17...SUAthletics.com
- Lemon has another career day as Syracuse loses...The Juice
- Syracuse Football Vs. USF: Marrone Falls On Orange Sword After Loss To USF, 37-17...SB Nation NY
- Every Day Should Be Friday: USF 37, Syracuse 17...Voodoo Five
Syracuse vs. South Florida Football: Coach Marrone Post-Game (Posted by Steven J. Pallone / The Post-Standard)
Syracuse vs. South Florida Football: SU Players Post-Game (Posted by Steven J. Pallone / The Post-Standard)
Skip Holtz after his team's 37-17 win.