At times, you can read further into a blowout win or loss. That was not the case today for the Syracuse Orange’s defeat at the hands of the Clemson Tigers by a score of 54-0. As expected, SU is now 4-5 (2-3) and the second-ranked Tigers are 9-0 (6-0). The more talented team, Clemson, won just as expected, and Syracuse lost. There’s little else to take from this game.
After Eric Dungey’s still-undisclosed injury in the first half, the wheels came off the Orange offense — already down 10-0 at the time. Dungey would finish the game 6-for-9 for 48 yards and an interception, his day coming to an end on a big hit at the end of a QB draw. The initial thought was a concussion, but after he reappeared on the sidelines (in street clothes) late in the second quarter, that may be ruled out.
No Dungey meant no actual offense for Syracuse, which is why it’s so hard to glean anything here. Austin Wilson was the primary quarterback, and went 17-for-27 for 116 yards and two interceptions. Zack Mahoney relieved him in the fourth quarter, and was 1-for-3 for eight yards. Without the same mastery of the offense that Dungey has, SU’s reserve passers couldn’t run even close to the same attack, resulting in the same couple slant patters and runs. SU had a season-low 277 yards on the game.
The one positive? Amba Etta-Tawo’s nine catches for 84 yards earned him the single-season records for both receptions (75 now) and receiving yards (1,158). Ervin Philips also added eight catches of his own for 48 yards. His typical screens were shut down early by Clemson when Dungey was on the field, but opened up a bit as the game got out of hand.
Defensively, it’s tough to say we learned much there either. They started strong enough, including holding the Tigers to a field goal inside the 10-yard line. But after that, as Clemson started dealing with more space and a longer fields, their offense completely opened up it for the rest of the game. We figured they would, of course. But with the Clemson lead growing and the offense being unable to move the ball, it became a boulder careening downhill. Tiger reserves, also four- and five-star players like the starters, were able to pick apart a demoralized group late into the game.
With Dungey’s injury and Brisly Estime’s extended absence with another undisclosed injury, this was probably to be expected. The talent gap between Syracuse and Clemson is wide, but Dino Babers’s offensive scheme could have helped make up for some of that. Without the “real” offense out there, it couldn’t and didn’t. And that’s how you get cratered on national television.
Hopefully Dungey and Estime (and Moe Neal, who exited in the fourth quarter) are back in action next week vs. NC State. Otherwise, Syracuse’s bowl hopes could be dead and buried in short order. More recapping to come here. Sorry in advance.