It was far from easy, but the No. 22 Syracuse Orange football team managed to get out of week one with a win, taking down the Liberty Flames on the road by a score of 24-0.
Admittedly, it was not necessarily the sort of game we were expecting, as the Orange offense struggled initially (and the offensive line has some definite rough spots) and never really got the passing attack going. Tommy DeVito was 17-of-35 for 176 yards and two interceptions. The team’s leading receiving was running back Moe Neal, who hauled in three catches for 54 yards (basically on the same, repeated screen play).
Neal was also fairly effective on the ground picking up 89 yards and a score on 14 attempts (about half of those on the touchdown run). Abdul Adams had 49 yards and a TD and Jarveon Howard had 32 yards and a touchdown himself. DeVito, surprisingly, picked up 21 on the ground as well. You can definitely claim that the SU offense looked a whole lot better in the second half, at least (but still struggled)
It was the defense that led the way throughout, however. Early in the game, Orange turnovers could’ve put the D on its heels against Liberty, but the group came up with timely takeaways of their own and some big stops. Ifeatu Melifonwu and Andre Cisco each collected an interception, while Kingsley Jonathan and Trill Williams also forced fumbles. Syracuse also recorded eight sacks, with Josh Black and Kendall Coleman throwing it back to 2015 when they led SU’s pass-rush together. They had two apiece here, while Lakiem Williams had 1.5 sacks of his own.
Syracuse shut down the run all game against the Flames, holding them to minus-4 yards for the evening. Though Antonio Gandy-Golden collected 119 yards through the air, no other Liberty player really got going on offense. Quarterback Stephen Calvert was 20-of-39 for 234 yards and two interceptions. The SU defense basically dared him to beat them, and by and large, he couldn’t save for his work on the final drive trying to get the Flames into the end zone.
So that wasn’t all that enjoyable, and we have plenty of thoughts coming out of this one (don’t run DeVito so much, we never should’ve scheduled Liberty, Dino didn’t even really open the playbook). But more on that in the ensuing articles about a win, nonetheless.
Also, thank you to Hugh Freeze for becoming an instant meme and nothing more in this one.