The Syracuse Orange (4-7, 2-5 in ACC) dropped its third consecutive game on Saturday after being blown out 45-14 by the Florida State Seminoles (8-3, 5-2 in ACC). No. 17 Florida State opened the game hot, quickly jumping out to an early 21-0 lead to dispel any ridiculous notion of a potential Syracuse upset.
Here are three things we learned from Syracuse’s latest loss.
Time to Hop Off the Mahoney Bandwagon
Syracuse backup quarterback Zack Mahoney developed a cult following last season after “leading” the Orange to close losses against LSU and Clemson. However, after another poor performance, the Mahoney bandwagon now looks more bare than the shelves at your local Walmart after Black Friday.
Officer Mahoney looked more like Hall Monitor Mahoney on Saturday, as the backup quarterback struggled mightily against the Seminoles’ stiff defense. Mahoney, who started in-place of the injured Eric Dungey, finished the game 16-of-36 passing for 196 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. In addition, Mahoney was also sacked eight times.
However, even those numbers don’t properly tell the whole story as Mahoney boosted his stats with a lucky 46-yard Hail Mary touchdown to Amba Etta-Tawo to close out the first half. That long touchdown may have saved Mahoney from being benched, as up to that point the former walk-on completed just nine-of-19 passes for 92 yards and had thrown two ugly interceptions.
Mahoney has started six games for Syracuse. His record stands at 1-5, with his lone win coming against Boston College, and he has failed to complete more than 50 percent of his passes in any of his six starts.
While Mahoney provided some inspirational moments last season, it’s time to finally accept what he is: a former walk-on quarterback who has plenty of heart, but not nearly enough actual passing skills to succeed at the Divison-1 level.
All Aboard the #HofrichterForHeisman Campaign
Sterling Hofrichter was in a tough and peculiar situation at the start of this season. It isn’t every day you’re asked to replace a legend – even less likely when you’re a punter. And yet, that is the exact situation Hofricher found himself in when he was asked to take over punting duties after Riley Dixon graduated and left for greener pastures in the NFL.
Hofrichter got off to a rocky start and drew the ire of Syracuse fans still reeling from the loss of Dixon after the redshirt freshman shanked several punts in his first few games. However, it’s time to let bygones be bygones.
While Hofrichter doesn’t posses the same flare for the dramatics as Dixon, what he does possess is a strong leg that has led to several booming punts. In nine of Syracuse’s 11 games, Hofrichter has recorded a punt that traveled at least 50 yards – including a 65-yard punt against NC State and a 61-yard punt against Louisville.
Hofrichter punted nine times on Saturday, averaging 44.4 yards per punt. Despite his first punt being partially-blocked and terrible blocking all game, he was still able to pin Florida State within their own 20-yard line on five occasions.
What if Eric Dungey didn’t get injured and was healthy enough to play? That’s the question Syracuse fans should be asking themselves after watching Saturday’s blowout loss. While Dungey most likely wouldn’t have done enough to lead Syracuse to a win, he most certainly would have been able to take advantage of Flordia State’s surprisingly mediocre pass defense to pad both his and Etta-Tawo’s stats.
While Mahoney finished with a lackluster stats line, it wasn’t for a lack of trying by Florida State’s pass defense. Several times, Mahoney had an open receiver down the field only to overthrew him due to his inaccurate passing and lack of chemistry.
Which, once again, begs the question what if it was Dungey behind center and not Mahoney?
Prior to Dungey being forced out of Syracuse’s loss to Clemson, both he and Etta-Tawo were on pace to break several records and were near the top of the country’s leader boards in terms of passing and receiving categories. Dungey was on pace to break Syracuse’s single-season record for pass attempts, completions and yards.
While Etta-Tawo ended up breaking Syracuse’s single-season record for both receiving yards and catches despite Dungey’s absence, his numbers are nowhere near where they were when Dungey was at quarterback. The graduate transfer was held to just two receptions for 58 yards (albeit, one of those catches was for a touchdown) against Florida State.
BONUS: Tommy DeVito Can’t Get Here Fast Enough
With Dungey’s injury history, and the lack of talented backup quarterbacks behind him, this one just goes without saying.
What else did you learn from Syracuse’s loss? Leave a comment below and let us know.