From the first four drives of the game between The Syracuse Orange (4-0, 1-0) and Connecticut Huskies (1-3, 0-1), it was evident that SU had superior talent. Syracuse scored two touchdowns while forcing a fumble and a punt from its former Big East rival.
That remained the case throughout the next three and a half quarters as ‘Cuse cruised to a 51-21 win, sustaining its undefeated season at least one week longer.
Without further ado, here’s three takeaways from the blowout win.
The defensive line is who we thought they were
Entering the season, this defensive line received buzz as a potential strength of this Orange team. Today, they showed why they were deserving of the hype. Immediately, on the first possession, redshirt sophomore defensive end Josh Black pounced on a UCONN senior quarterback David Pindell mistake to provide the Orange its first possession of the game. The very next drive, junior Alton Robinson pressured Pindell into a rushed throw on a third down, forcing another failed Husky drive. Robinson came back on the ensuing drive and sacked Pindell for a loss of five yards. At the end of the day, Robinson (3), Antwan Cordy (1), Kielan Whitner (1) and Kendall Coleman (1) combined for six sacks, and the team collected nine TFLs in all.
Looking ahead to next week against Clemson, it’s doubtful that they will be able to sustain that high level of production. Yet, if the front four can beat their blocks and hurry whoever is playing quarterback into poor decisions, then SU may have a chance against the ACC elite. To have any chance, Slayton, Coleman, Black, and Robinson need to produce in consecutive weeks.
Sean Riley is electrifying and receiver is no longer as much of a concern
Considering the losses of Ervin Phillips and Steve Ishmael, there were serious and legitimate questions surrounding the receiver position. Questions like “who was going to be the deep threat?” and “who would be the No. 1 receiver?” circulated around the program. After four games, those questions seem answered. Syracuse has an array of options, from the speedy junior Riley, to the slick sophomore Nykeim Johnson or the towering senior Jamal Custis. Head coach Dino Babers appears to have found enough receivers to serve senior quarterback Eric Dungey well, with nine different players catching passes.
Today, Riley boasted his athleticism twice. The first time, on a nice 69-yard punt return touchdown. The next, on a 49-yard receiving touchdown. Riley took the crossing route down the right sideline and outran any Husky defender en route to his second receiving touchdown on the year. His six receptions for 120 yards brings his total on the year up to 201 yards, already more than his freshman or sophomore year. His speed’s become an asset in every aspect of the passing game.
Orange run game leading the way
Through two seasons at Syracuse, Babers’s system appeared to struggle to move the ball on the ground and be heavily reliant on the pass. That’s completely changed this year, however, as this game seemed to hammer home.
The Orange had 341 yards on the ground, averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Moe Neal led with 116 yards on just 13 carries, and Dungey had 84. Both Dontae Strickland and Jarveon Howard had 50-yard runs and tallied over 60 yards on the day. Even Markenzy Pierre and Riley got in on the act.
Syracuse is finding holes on the inside of the line, in part by way of Chris Elmore’s presence, and it’s paying huge dividends. This is what the offense was designed to look like. You’re seeing the proof it’s working in the scores we’ve put up so far (even accounting for quality of opponent).