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Second half thread: Syracuse 13, Middle Tennessee 9

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Not what we expected at all...

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It’s close! Maybe closer than most Syracuse Orange fans would like and as of right now we’re seeing where the Orange really are, with a tight 13-9 lead over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

The defense is playing well. Zaire Franklin and his linebackers have been making plays all day. On offense, we’re watching Eric Dungey take one final exam from his former head coach in Scott Shafer and so far, he’s managed but for the Orange to win, Dungey can’t rely on this defense. His receiver will need to step up and his offensive line has to help create some room Dontae Strickland.

So what are seeing?

Shafer Came Prepared

Aside from the penalties, MTSU’s defense has been on point holding the Orange to just over 100 yards of offense. Shafer is HUGE on third down efficiency and turnovers and up to this point have held the Orange to just 3/11 on 3rd down attempts. Pressure has been present all game and don’t expect it to let up in the second half. Against spread offense attacks like Syracuse. Coach Shafer loves early down pressure and then sitting back on 2nd or 3rd and long and playing the pass in hopes of a turnover.

The Offense

Dungey and the offense have struggled up to this point averaging less than 3 yards per play going 10/18 on pass attempts recording just 73 passing yards. In the 2nd quarter, the Orange finally managed to get into the endzone on a Strickland touchdown but since then, have been largely inefficient. Erv Phillips must not be in the Dome today and Jamal Custis has a bad case of the drops. The running game has been largely non-existant once again. If the Orange hope to have any chance of winning today, Coach Babers and his staff will have to make some adjustments to get this group going. Redzone field goals aren’t going to cut it today.

Syracuse Front Seven

The defensive line has arrived! Chris Slayton and the gang have an excellent game to this point using several different stunts and games (defensive line tricks to cross up and confuse an offensive line) to create openings for Zaire and Paris Bennett to make plays. Loving the coverage from Bennett and Jonathan Thomas. MTSU is trying to create mismatches with Richie James against them but both JT and Bennett have been there. If the front 7 can keep up there play and force Stockstill into more bad decisions, they might just save the Orange from poor play offensively.

Still plenty of time left! Let me know what you all are seeing. I’ll be with you in the halftime thread and on Twitter: @julianwhigham.

Second half thread below, and G’ORANGE!