The Syracuse Orange (4-5, 2-3 in ACC) are, once again, back below .500 after losing 54-0 to the no. 2-ranked Clemson Tigers (9-0, 6-0 in ACC) Saturday in Death Valley. Clemson jumped out to a 30-0 lead at halftime and never looked back.
Here are the three key things we learned from Syracuse’s blowout loss.
It Isn’t Just The System
Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey has had a coming-out party, of sorts, this season. After failing to throw for more than 250 yards in any game last season under ex-coach Scott Shafer, Dungey ranked 10th nationally in passing yards, with 2,631, entering Saturday’s game against Clemson. As as a whole, Syracuse ranked 32nd in total offense, with 3,894 yards.
While a lot of credit has been given to new Syracuse coach Dino Babers and his uptempo offensive system, it may be time to give Dungey a little more praise.
Dungey was knocked out of the game after suffering a hard hit to the head with 3:11 remaining in the first quarter. At the time of the injury, Clemson led by only 10 points. However, the Syracuse offense failed to get anything going with backup quarterback Austin Wilson under center, and Clemson quickly pulled away.
While the Syracuse offense didn’t look like its usual impressive self under Dungey – including an interception by the sophomore quarterback – it looked downright dreadful after he was forced out of the game and replaced by Wilson.
Speaking of which...
Wilson over Mahoney?
When Dungey suffered a brutal hit to the head late in the first quarter and was forced to head to the locker room, nearly everyone expected backup quarterback Zack Mahoney to enter the game.
Dungey was stunned for a bit and down for a couple minutes. Just left the field with help. Zach Mahoney will come in for the Orange.— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) November 5, 2016
My fault. Austin Wilson in at QB.— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) November 5, 2016
Austin Wilson is in at quarterback. Shocking it's not Zack Mahoney.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) November 5, 2016
Eric Dungey is helped off the field by staffers. Surprisingly, it's Austin Wilson in at QB.— Syracuse Football (@syrfootball) November 5, 2016
Austin Wilson checks in, not Zack Mahoney— Niko Tamurian (@NikoTamurian) November 5, 2016
Mahoney had been listed as the second string quarterback on the depth chart all season, and previously saw action against Colgate, Louisville, South Florida and Wake Forest.
However, instead of the fan-favorite Mahoney, who previously led Syracuse to close losses/”moral victories” against LSU and Clemson last season, longtime backup Austin Wilson entered the game.
Prior to Saturday, Wilson boasted a career stats line of 302 passing yards – completing just 55.2 percent of his passes – one touchdown and five interceptions. Not surprisingly, Wilson played poorly against Clemson, completing 17-of-27 passes for 116 yards and two interceptions, before being replaced by Mahoney with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
If Dungey’s injury is serious and keeps him out of next week’s contest against NC State, it’ll be interesting to see whether Mahoney or Wilson is named the starter.
RIP Cole Murphy
Guys, it’s time to face the music: Cole Murphy is gone and never coming back. Murphy, who was named to the Lou Groza award watch list prior to the start of the season, continued his downward spiral on Saturday, missing his only field goal attempt, a 30-yard chip shot late in the third quarter.
Murphy was a Lou Groza award semifinalist his freshman year in 2014, connecting on 13-of-16 field goals and 11-of-12 extra points, but has been a shell of his former self this season.
The once consistent and accurate kicker has now missed seven of his last nine field goals, and is a question mark whenever he lines up for a kick. Babers previously expressed his support for Murphy during his press conference on Monday.
“You say he's struggling, I think he's doing okay,” Babers said. “Cole is our kicker. We'll stay with him until he gets it right.”
Unfortunately for Murphy, he didn’t “get it right” on Saturday.
What else did you learn from Syracuse’s blowout loss to Clemson? Leave a comment below.