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Syracuse football: Three things we learned from Syracuse’s loss to NC State

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Another loss, but another lesson(s)!

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange (4-6) lost their second consecutive game after falling to the North Carolina State Wolfpack 35-20 on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse was forced to play without starting quarterback Eric Dungey, who was ruled out less than an hour prior to the game, and simply couldn’t muster enough offense without him.

Here are three things we learned from Syracuse’s loss.

Officer Mahoney is Back(-up)

This past week, Syracuse coach Dino Babers offered little-to-no clarity as to who would start at quarterback for the Orange against NC State. Eric Dungey was listed as questionable, and Babers refused to say who would start in Dungey’s place if he couldn’t go, listing both Austin Wilson and Zack Mahoney as co-backups on this week’s two-man depth chart.

However, the question as who will serve as Dungey’s backup was answered on Saturday. Despite Wilson being more of a pocket-passer and offering more of a similar (albeit worse) skill-set to Dungey, Babers decided to go with the dual-threat Mahoney at quarterback against the Wolfpack.

The fact that NC State came into the game ranked 92nd in passing yards per game, a matchup that would have appeared to favor Wilson, and Babers still decided to go with Mahoney, only furthers the belief that Officer Mahoney has regained his badge as Syracuse’s backup quarterback.

While Mahoney was far from perfect, he did do enough to keep Syracuse in the game, finishing the afternoon with 13-of-24 passing for 190 yards and one touchdown and interception apiece.

Cole Murphy: The Resurrection

Syracuse kicker Cole Murphy was seemingly left for dead last week after another brutal outing in which Murphy missed a chip-shot 31-yard field goal, his seventh missed field goal attempt in nine tries.

The downward spiral of Muprhy, who was a Lou Groza award semifinalist his freshman year in 2014, over recent weeks even led to the question of whether or not he should be benched in favor of punter Sterling Hofrichter, who was recruited to Syracuse as both a punter and a place kicker in 2015.

Murphy, who entered Saturday’s game having converted on just 50 percent of his field goal attempts, dispelled any questions over a possible change at place kicker after going a perfect four-for-four on his kicks, including drilling both of his field goal attempts – one of which was from 47-yards out.

Babers has repeatedly voiced his support for Murphy. Safe to say – despite the final score – Babers was rewarded for his belief on Saturday.

Running In Place

Syracuse having trouble running the ball isn’t exactly new, but on Saturday we learned just how abysmal Syracuse’s running game has the potential to be.

On an afternoon when Syracuse would have most likely preferred to rely on the ground game (due to Dungey being out), the Orange, somehow, finished the game with 28 carries for 28 yards – yes, averaging a single yard per carry.

Starting running back Dontae Strickland was held in check all game long, finishing the game with a meager 2.3 yards per carry on 12 rushing attempts for 28 yards. Mahoney finished second on the team with two yards, on 13 carries. Moe Neal then rounded out the group, with no yards on two carries.

The Orange entered Saturday’s game ranked 113rd in the nation in rushing yards per game, with 126.9. We’ll see how much further they fall after this poor performance.

BONUS: College Football Makes No Doggone Sense

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What did you learn from Syracuse’s loss to NC State? Leave a comment and let us know below.