The Syracuse Orange (1-1; 0-1 in ACC) suffered a blowout loss at the hands of the No. 13 Louisville Cardinals (2-0; 1-0 in ACC) Friday night, bringing the #OrangeIsTheNewFast hype train to a screeching halt.
Louisville started the game strong, scoring a touchdown on each of their first three possessions to race out to an early 21-0 before Syracuse eventually responded to make it 35-21 at the half.
However, the 14-point deficit proved too difficult to overcome as Louisville pulled away after the break.
Here are three things we learned.
Lamar Jackson hype is R-E-A-L
Prior to the start of the season, Jackson was a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate thanks to his stellar play in Louisville’s win over Texas A&M in last year’s Music City Bowl – Jackson accounted for 610 total yards and five touchdowns. Despite his impressive numbers in Louisville’s bowl win, Jackson wasn’t listed as a heavy favorite to take home the Heisman due to his inconsistent freshman season and limited accuracy from within the pocket; Jackson connected on just 54.7 percent of his passes last season.
While Jackson wasn’t considered to be in the same realm of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in terms of Heisman favorites to start the season, he certainly has entered the fold now after stellar performances against Charlotte and now Syracuse.
Jackson seemingly picked up right where he left off following his six-touchdown performance against Charlotte, accounting for 483 total yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone to give Louisville a 35-21 lead at the break – including a jaw-dropping hurdle over Cordell Hudson on his nine-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
The most frightening aspect of Jackson’s numbers is the fact they should be even BETTER, as the sophomore quarterback was hurt by several drops from multiple receivers throughout the night – including two that could have potentially resulted in long touchdowns.
They (the secondary) are who we thought they were
It was no secret Syracuse’s secondary would be one of this team’s biggest flaws heading into the season, and their play so far this season has certainly done nothing to dispel that notion.
After being torched on Colgate’s opening drive last week (and despite holding the Raiders scoreless the rest of the game, still looked unimpressive), Syracuse’s secondary looked putrid for nearly the entire night. Not only was the Orange defensive backs picked apart by Jackson and in poor position for most of the game, but they also committed an egregious number of missed tackles and looked utterly lost as a whole.
Cordell Hudson was the team’s biggest culprit. Hudson was repeatedly burned and looked overmatched, most noticeably on a long bomb from Jackson in which Louisville wide receiver Jamari Staples leaped over a helpless Hudson for a 55-yard reception to set up Jackson’s 13-yard touchdown scamper on the very next play.
Hudson will also live in SportsCenter infamy for being the poor soul who Jackson hurdled for a touchdown.
Seriously. This is just unfair. Lamar Jackson is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/Vin8hlzpax— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 10, 2016
Etta-Tawo, NOT Ishmael, is Syracuse’s No. 1 receiver
For the second straight game, transfer wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo vastly outplayed fellow wide-out Steve Ishmael. Etta-Tawo finished the night with eight receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns, compared to just four receptions for 65 yards for Ishmael.
While Ishamel was the wide receiver most fans expected to break out and flourish in Dino Babers’ high-flying offense, it has been Etta-Tawo who has emerged as not only Syracuse’s top pass-catcher, but one of the premier receivers in the ACC as well.
Etta-Tawo was named ACC Receiver of the Week after hauling in 12 receptions for 210 yards and one touchdown in Syracuse’s season-opening win over Colgate. While his performance Friday night against Louisville pails in comparison, the speedy Maryland transfer still showed he is by far Syracuse’s most reliable and most dangerous receiver, with the highlight coming on a 47-yard touchdown reception to close out the first half.
While the outside world may not have seen this type of production coming, Etta-Tawo said he had some sort of idea, telling Syracuse.com’s Nate Mink earlier this week he knew what he could potentially do in Dino Babers’ offense, and playing in this type of system was the main reason he decided to transfer to Syracuse.
“There was no sales pitch,” Etta-Tawo said. “We played Bowling Green last year, so I got an opportunity to watch his offense live, and from that moment on I wanted to play for him. So when I came and saw he was the head coach at Syracuse University, it was an easy decision for me.”
What else did you learn after Friday night’s debacle? Leave a comment below.