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Three takeaways from Syracuse football’s 56-34 loss to Louisville

This game probably reached peak “weird.”

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

In the grand vein of Syracuse Orange football in the 2019 season, this week against the Louisville Cardinals was another really odd and frustrating game. After a 56-34 loss, a few thoughts:

Syracuse still has trouble putting itself in a position to win

Throughout the game, it seemed like Syracuse may have felt like just spotting the Cardinals a few points. Between Antwan Cordy playing great defense on Chris Fredrick on the interception attempt early in the game, Sean Riley muffing the punt even earlier, or not converting any points on Andre Cisco’s interception early in the fourth quarter, the Orange continue to have a knack for not converting on plays they need to make.

These were a lot of the coin flips within the game that Syracuse won consistently last year, but they need to find a way to do that if they want to win football games. If Clayton Welch scores that touchdown that was called back for a hold, who knows what happens. If both the red zone attempts under Welch are field goals, or the red zone offense is called differently, or we get off a timeout early on with a weird delay of game call, we’ll never know.

Some of this comes down to play-calling and coaching, some comes down to execution on the field, but when both aren’t in your favor, it’s quite hard to be in a position to come away with a win.

The defense is still not good, post-shakeup

Syracuse may have caught lightning in a bottle last week against Duke, and held them to a reasonable stat line, but the Cards were able to systematically pick apart holes within the Orange defense. Tutu Atwell put on a show to start, but it was the entire Louisville offense that had a good day taken advantage of that space they were given. A good number of those plays were either wide open plays in the flats, blown coverage between short and deep zones or mismarked corners in one on one coverage. Each of those have been exploited in the past by other offenses, and probably should have been addressed at this point by either the current or former defensive coordinators.

The run defense was possibly worse, as Javian Hawkins was well over 200 yards and seemed to gain yardage at will. The Syracuse linebackers weren’t able to scrape off blocks and would get sucked in to spaces they couldn’t react from. This could be seen explicitly on a drive in the third quarter where Lakeim Williams missed a tackle on Cunningham when he had him contained as he commited outside, followed the next play by Andrew Armstrong getting sucked inside for Hawkins to walk into the endzone past him. No matter the outcome, these are things that need to be addressed and shouldn’t still be harped on in Week 11 of the season.

Record books are overrated when two teams can run at will on each other

On the day, both starting running backs, Moe Neal for Syracuse and Javian Hawkins for Louisville decided to set records for their career best game.

The senior Neal’s personal best was 159 in Syracuse’s win over Lousiville in the Dome last season. By the start of the fourth quarter, he was already at 162 yards, finishing with 163 on the day. It was good to see the Orange run game in action, even effective when behind and trying to claw back into the game.

Hawkins is a redshirt freshman for Louisville, but has run all over the opposition this season, with five other games over 100 yards on the ground. The Cardinals were able to keep pounding the ball through him, including a burst for a 44 yard touchdown. He had 153 yards by the start of the fourth, on the way to his season best of 233 yards on the day.

Jawhar Jordan, the true freshman running back for Syracuse also decided to set a personal all-purpose record on the day with 122 yards, including a beautiful 81-yard screen pass that he tiptoed down to the three. He had 70 yards total on the year prior to today, so it was definitely a boost for the young man.


Your takeaways? Certainly you have some to add to the above.