From The Pressbox: Watching Syracuse Defeat UConn

Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE

Jeremy Ryan was in the press box to watch Syracuse's 40-10 demolition job on UConn. What did he see?

After a dismal showing at Rutgers, where the Syracuse Orange did seemingly everything they could to lose a winnable football game, the Big East rival Connecticut Huskies came to the Carrier Dome led by former SU coach Paul Pasqualoni. Would the Orange show they still had some fight in them? Or would they roll over and die against an inferior opponent?

  • The crowd was very sparse at kickoff, I’d say even more so than for the Pittsburgh game just two weeks prior. I read on Twitter that there were long lines to get into the Dome on Friday, which I think is odd considering the 8:00 p.m. start.
  • Some of the reporters in the press box were saying that the increased Dome security after last week’s Orange Madness stabbing played a role in the late arriving crowd. The announced attendance for the game was 36,715, and I’d say only half of them were inside at kickoff, if that. Did any of you TNIAAM readers have trouble getting to your seats on time?
  • What’s interesting about the attendance and late arrivals is that it could have been much worse. Part of Interstate 690 just east of Syracuse was scheduled to be closed over the weekend, starting Friday morning. That was postponed primarily because of the SU game. Could you imagine how bad the delays would have been if the highway was shut down as planned?
  • Onto the game itself. The Syracuse defense started off by forcing the Huskies into a quick three and out. The Orange then went on the offensive and ran the ball down the Huskies’ throats with three long Jerome Smith runs before the drive stalled out and they settled for a Krautman 22-yard field goal. There was wasted opportunity #1. Luckily this didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but against a better opponent it certainly could have.
  • After the Orange D forced a second consecutive three and out, they FINALLY got a decent punt return (33 yards) by Ritchy Desir, who had been inserted into the lineup this week in place of the struggling Steve Rene. In fact, I think I read somewhere that Desir picked up more yards in one return than Rene had gotten all season (Ed. Note - True!). Unfortunately the Orange could muster only five yards of offense before settling for a second consecutive field goal in the red zone. Wasted opportunity #2.
  • I don‘t think I can understate how much the Syracuse defense really carried the team in the first half. They limited UConn to three points, and the aforementioned three and out possessions. Unfortunately the offense didn’t cash in on their scoring chances, which I think has been one of the team’s major Achilles Heels all season.
  • The entire Dome let out a "woah" when Dyshawn Davis crushed UConn QB Chandler Whitmer and forced a sack in the second quarter. They even "woahed" again when watching the replay. The fumble was overturned by video replay, but then Durrell Eskridge got the ball back with another forced fumble that Cameron Lynch recovered in perhaps the most eventful possession of the game.
  • On the ensuing drive, Ryan Nassib led the team down the field with a varied and fairly creative offensive possession that led to a short TD run by Adonis Ameen-Moore. The crowd really perked up and became a factor after the defensive stop and resulting score by the offense.
  • Syracuse was up 20-10 at halftime, and I think if that was the final score SU fans would have taken it an been happy. Little did we know that the team was able to explode for its largest offensive output since the first game of the season.
  • I saw Jim Boeheim in the hallway near the press box at the half, trying to talk on his cell phone. He’s probably the only person I’ve seen in the press area who doesn’t wear any sort of badge or pass. Not that he has to.
  • SU had the ball to begin the second half, and that’s when the offense really started clicking. On the first drive Alec Lemon set a career high with his 68-yard reception. I think he’s going to go down as one of the best players in SU history that no one will remember, mostly because of the bad teams he played on.
  • Instead of recapping every drive for the second half, many of which came when the game was out of reach, let me mention a few statistical high points that illustrate just how much the Orange dominated the Huskies.
  • Syracuse had exactly 251 yards rushing and 251 yards passing for 502 yards of total offense. Now that’s what I call a balanced attack.
  • UConn had –6 yards rushing on the day, and the running game was supposed to be their offensive strength. Charley Loeb and Mackey MacPherson each had more rushing yards than the entire Huskies offense.
  • Syracuse converted on 8 of 15 third downs, while UConn was only 3-13. That’s the sort of clutch execution that was missing for most of the season so far.
  • Syracuse fumbled the ball three times (Nassib had two), but didn’t lose any. They also had at least one deflected Nassib pass that was not intercepted. Marrone mentioned this in his postgame news conference, saying that they need to be better with ball security because they may not get those lucky bounces next time.
  • Finally, the Orange were 6-6 in red zone opportunities, with four touchdowns and two field goals. Ross Krautman was 4-4 for the day on FGs and 4-4 on PATs, accounting for 16 of Syracuse’s 40 points by himself.
  • Marrone and his players seemed very excited by their win during postgame interviews. Nassib even remarked that he wanted to wear a suit after his first career win over the Huskies. Jerome Smith beamed at the mention of his first career 100-yard rushing game, although he still hasn’t scored a touchdown yet. Marrone talked a bit about Broyld, saying that Ashton has kept a positive attitude in practice and it was good to be able to get him some extensive game experience. However, Marrone reiterated that he will continue to give snaps to the players he thinks give the team the best chance to win, and it’s clear to me that Broyld doesn’t fit into that category quite yet.

Jeremy Ryan is a writer/editor for CNYcentral.com in Syracuse. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyRyan44.

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