This game was definitely interesting. While the Syracuse Orange did defeat the Western Michigan Broncos by a 55-42 score, they sure kept us intrigued all the way through. Without further ado, let’s get to the takeaways.
1. Eric Dungey needs to stay healthy... *whispers* but he probably won’t
Dungey, like always, was this team’s best player tonight. He had 184 passing yards and two scores, as well as 200 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. He made big play after big play and was vital for Syracuse in outlasting the Broncos.
If Dungey can stay healthy for the whole season, this team will make a bowl game. He has a knack for making the right decision and huge plays when the team needs it most. For instance, right after Kielan Whitner intercepted Jon Wassink, Dungey took the ensuing carry 27 yards and into the end zone. That play gave the Orange a three score lead and basically wrapped it up.
When Dungey mysteriously left the game late in the second quarter, the offense simply couldn’t move the ball. The offensive line looked worse and Tommy DeVito looked like he was playing in his first collegiate game (clearly, since he was). Without Dungey, the offense only mustered 46 passing yards. If Dungey can stay healthy, he could lead this team to a bowl game. But if he suffers another injury and forces DeVito to play starter’s minutes this early on in his career, well, this might be a(nother) long season.
2. The pass defense is porous at best
At the end of last year, this secondary couldn’t stop anyone who threw against them. Today, that remained true for parts of the game. WMU was able to do anything they wanted against the Orange secondary in the second half, racking up almost 400 yards. You have to give credit where credit is due. Wassink made every throw he needed to in the final two periods, and looked off freshman Andre Cisco for multiple big plays. But Syracuse needs to improve if they’re going to sniff the postseason.
The two interceptions are promising for a team that only had four last year, though they can’t keep giving up big plays. Evan Foster looked great for most of the game, tallying numerous stops. Yet, D’Wayne Eskridge burned Scoop Bradshaw and Cisco on back to back drives. In total, he had 11 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He was fantastic, don’t get it wrong. However, if Eskridge is doing this, what’s going to happen when they face Jaylen Smith at Louisville or Nyqwan Murray at Florida State?
Jamal Custis is (finally) the real deal
That’s one headline I did not expect to write. The redshirt senior wide receiver was absolutely fantastic tonight. He caught deep balls, made runs after the catch, seemed unstoppable against the Western Michigan defense. At the end of the day, he caught six balls for 168 yards and two scores, including a fantastic touchdown catch in the third quarter to re-establish a two-score lead.
After this game, he has clearly separated himself from the struggling Devin Butler. While Custis played almost flawlessly, Butler couldn’t catch a break. He dropped almost every ball thrown his way and ended the night without a catch. Entering the game, it seemed as though Butler was going to get the majority of the targets, but it’s very difficult now to imagine a scenario where he ever has more than Custis again.