The Syracuse Orange put the hurt on the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils on Friday night, getting the 50-7 win. We all knew that would happen, more or less. So what did we not know going in? Here are three things we learned in game one of 2017.
**Disclaimer: Yes, it’s a FCS team... but you can still take a lot away from how SU looked, even against a weak opponent**
All about the passing game
We will see a lot of it, again. SU had 431 passing yards, which was 73% of the Orange offense.
It will also be diverse. Jamal Custis will finally be involved in the offense, but great to see everyone getting touches. Seven different players on the two-deep depth chart got their hands on the ball. Steve Ishmael was the leader, with 12 catches for 134 yards. We saw Moe Neal get involved out of the backfield and dangerously make moves down the sideline for a touchdown.
It will/should be accurate. Eric Dungey connected on each of his first 13 passes. He finished the night 28-of-36 with 328 yards and three TDs. If he stays healthy, he will be one of the more versatile guys out there and keep this offense alive.
The D-Line has improved
CCSU just couldn’t move the ball against the Orange. At the half they had just 65 total yards and were getting stuffed left, right and up the middle. They finished the game with just 54 rushing yards.
McKinley Williams and Chris Slayton were the notables up front with three tackles a piece.
We saw a lot better pressure in the backfield than we saw most of last season. It came with some blitz packages but generally off the ball the D-line looked solid. Side note: the Nickel package struggled just a bit the few times we saw it.
Some things never change
Orange is the new fast, but they were fast last year too. Syracuse averaged 20.3 seconds per play against CCSU (which was impacted with killing clock in the fourth).
Dungey sure hasn’t learned how to play it safe. He scrambled just as much as he has in the past, the strategy that led him to injuries. I’m not saying stay in the pocket all the time, but maybe when SU is up 30 in the second half just take it easy. Maybe?
SU’s run game looked the same, not too good. We were looking for Neal and Strickland to put work off each other and get some open space, but that didn’t happen. SU put up just 155 yards on the ground (against a poor FCS team).
Kicking? Yeah we have no idea. No one looked great, no one looked terrible. Cole Murphy made a 29 yard field goal and botched a PAT. Sterling Hofrichter, made a 27 yard try and missed a 51 yarder. Then Murphy came back in and drilled a 38 yard attempt in the 4th. So that’s still a competition and a big wait and see.
What did you learn? Let us know in the comments.