With a convincing 52-17 win against Tulane, the Orange notched their first win of the season against an FBS opponent. Although it was clearly not a Nick Saban-esque team on the other side of the ball, the Orange did what they were supposed to do in a must win game. The rest of the season will be centered around Syracuse's ability to win the games they have the opportunity to and doing so in their final contest before ACC play was crucial. So what can we take from Saturday?
1st Down: #10 is our guy
Let's face it. Drew Allen was put in a tough spot. After seeing the chemistry and fluidity the offense had with TerrelHunt at the helm he has to be our guy, at least for now. Hunt was able to look off receivers and react to the coverage downfield which is something I feel Allen has not been able to do. I understand he has not started in years and it will take time. This is why, certainly for now, Terrel Hunt has to be our guy. Especially against Clemson who will bring the quickest defense they have seen all season.
2nd Down: The coming (back) out party of Christopher Clark needs to continue
Clark lead the Orange in receiving Saturday and was a huge reason for the offensive explosion and the special teams' success. The speedster burst onto the scene with a huge game in the opening week loss to Northwestern last season and was silenced the rest of the season. If he can keep playing at this level, this should finally free Jarrod West and Beckett Wales to become the posession targets we expected them to be from the start. Clark also gives the offense the deep threat that they lacked early in the season and should continue to give the ground game a little more room.
3rd Down: Special teams play was the best it has been in a long time
If you take away the play of the special teams in this game, we're looking at a much closer football game. Looking at the numbers after the game, there really was not a huge difference between the Green Wave and the Orange besides the two turnovers. I'm not saying that it was like the return of Quentin Spotwood bringing back kickoffs but it was nice to finally win with the special teams and see the difference it makes when you have a solid defense. Hopefully this was a glimpse of what is to come. The special teams will need to have another big game when Clemson comes to the Dome.
4th Down: Third down defense continued to impress
The Orange held Tulane to 4-14 on third downs. With the exception of the Northwestern game, this has been the one consistent aspect Syracuse has been able to fall back on. (And I would argue the defense got put into some very tough situations at Northwestern and the score and numbers weren't completely reflective of how they played). The front seven have impressed me all season long but with Clemson coming in, the d-backs will have to win some 1v1 battles created by containing Tajh Boyd. I think the third down defense will continue to succeed and hopefully some turnovers start to come along with it.
Of course there are a lot of question marks that are raised after every game (Ashton Broyld sightings for example) but I saw a lot of positive things from this game that the Orange should be able to build on moving forward. At the end of the day the Cuse did what they needed to get the win. And no matter what, right now, thats all that matters.