Syracuse has spent most of the 2018 season playing fairly disciplined football, yet looked like they very much felt the effects of a month-long break for most of the first 30 minutes. The Orange were called for seven penalties totaling 50 yards. West Virginia had three for 25. Eric Dungey also threw two interceptions for the Orange, under pressure nearly every time he dropped back to pass.
Still, SU has found a way to earn a lead behind two rushing touchdowns from a surprising source in Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams. He’d redshirted this season, but was cleared to play once the semester ended and we didn’t necessarily expect to see much of him in Orlando. However, he’s carried the ball six times for 11 yards and the Orange’s two touchdowns.
Dungey is 7-of-14 for 110 yards, with 44 of those coming on one deep completion to Jamal Custis. Taj Harris leads SU receivers with four catches for 55 yards, while Custis has the other three catches, for an additional 55. Dungey’s been sacked five times already, and as mentioned, West Virginia has been able to apply pressure without much trouble — using mostly three- and four-man fronts to get the Orange QB out of the pocket. While he’s usually most comfortable rolling out, Dungey hasn’t been this evening.
Without Will Grier under center, you’d have figured that WVU was going to lean on the run more than the pass today, but the balance has been even more skewed in favor of the ground game than most would’ve predicted. The Mountaineers have rushed 20 times for 124 yards, including a long 51-yard scamper from Martell Pettaway. Both Tevin Bush (20) and Kennedy McCoy (12) also have double-digit gains on the day. McCoy has the lone touchdown for the ‘Eers, which briefly gave the team a 9-7 advantage in the second quarter.
Ryan Guthrie, Tyrell Richards and Kendall Coleman all have sacks for SU, while Evan Foster leads the Orange in tackles with six. While Syracuse has come up big situationally (WVU’s a combined 3-for-11 on third and fourth down), West Virginia’s been able to pick up some big gains throughout the half. Without Alton Robinson and McKinley Williams up front, linebackers have been pulled into more blitzing and that’s put more pressure on the defensive backs to cover in space. The middle’s also proven to be more open — the lone thing preventing SU from being carved up is the combined inexperience of Jack Allison and Trey Lowe at quarterback.
Plenty more to come in the second half. Let’s hope whatever was up with the Orange through two quarters is gone now and we can refocus to grab win No. 10. Leave your comments below and I’ll be back with the recap immediately after the final whistle.