Despite a bye week between Syracuse's last game against LSU and this contest against USF, the Orange came out flat on the road against the Bulls. In his first bit of action since being knocked out of the game against Central Michigan, QB Eric Dungey was a tepid 5-for-8 for 40 yards, and also ran six time for 13 yards too. The early play-calling appeared designed to protect Dungey from too much contact, but that opened up a bit by the second quarter when he led SU to a field goal.
Also returning from an injury, Ervin Philips appeared back at full strength, with two rushes for 16 yards. Ben Lewis is the team's leading receiver, with two catches for 23 yards. Running back Jordan Fredericks also has 16 yards rushing on just four carries, but the team has yet to give him consistent carries to really get the "Fat Back" rolling.
Defensively, the Orange have fallen victim to a lot of what we thought would happen: stacking the box leading to short passes being WIDE open in the flat. Quinton Flowers hasn't seen a ton of pressure, though Ron Thompson was able to get to him on a key third down late in the second quarter. Unfortunately, that led to a botched punt return by way of Kielan Whitner getting in the way of Brisly Estime's fair catch. The fumble (Syracuse's first lost fumble this year) gave USF the ball with just over a minute remaining and they converted that into a field goal to end the half.
It's puzzling to see Syracuse on their heels like this against a lesser USF squad -- ESPECIALLY coming off a bye. But as Sean reminded everyone before the game: we've got to take this one week at a time.
This one's far from over. And despite some questionably conservative play-calls, one mistake is the major black eye and reason the deficit is seven (versus a more manageable four).
The Bulls will get the ball to start the third quarter. The longer this one stays low-scoring, the more concerned we may want to get. Lots more football to play, however. The second half awaits. G'ORANGE!