The No. 22 Syracuse Orange picked up the win against the Liberty Flames in thir first game of 2019. However, it was a very messy outing for the Orange with a lot of things to take away from it. Here are the three most notable takeaways:
Tommy DeVito is a work in progress
At some points during the game, this could be an understatement. There were a number of off-target throws and questionable decisions that stoke further questions, though yes, it’s just the first game.
In the first quarter, DeVito threw an interception on a downfield heave that went short and almost tossed another on a medium-range out route. The redshirt sophomore often threw too hard to receivers on short routes and airmalied throws high or deep. Also, it seemed like he and Trishton Jackson were never on the same page. If Syracuse expects to have the offense smooth next week at Maryland and in ACC play, the young gunslinger has to iron out some flaws.
Offensive line could be a liability
To be fair to DeVito, he wasn’t helped by a very young offensive line that Liberty took advantage of throughout the game. Replacing three starters is never an easy task, but the five that the Orange trotted out definitely had trouble both protecting DeVito and consistently giving the running game the cushion it needed. Babers noted at the end of camp that it’s likely we see multiple iterations of the line in the first couple weeks before things are solidified. I would not be stunned to see the front five shaken up before kickoff in College Park next week.
Defensive line looks like a strength again
The pass rush is still really good, even with McKinley Williams sidelined for the first couple weeks. Eight sacks for the SU defense makes that clear. Obviously, the defense is still playing well if you hold an opposing team scoreless. That doesn’t mean the defense was perfect overall — there were multiple instances where linebackers and defensive backs missed tackles that allowed Liberty to pick up more yardage. But Syracuse was able to deal with that a bit more capably because of the defensive line applying constant pressure and never letting Stephen Calvert get comfortable.