Well, it does seem like the Syracuse Orange defense isn’t the disaster we witnessed last weekend. The Clemson Tigers lead SU 17-6 at halftime on Saturday, sure. But it’s more penalties and offensive struggles that have snake-bitten the Orange, rather than defensive failures thus far.
After each team went three-and-out to start the game, Clemson ran out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and there were thoughts that this one could get out of hand like last week. But SU’s defense has since buckled down and allowed just three points, while the Orange offense has stalled out in the red zone in its two trips — resulting in two Andre Szmyt field goals.
One of the big stories of the game so far has been Syracuse’s penalties — seven for 65 yards — including several gaffes that have awarded Clemson first downs. However, the Orange have largely slowed the Tigers’ run game; a surprising development given what was assumed going into this one. Clemson has just 50 yards on the ground (3.8 yards per carry). But Trevor Lawrence has 198 passing yards and has picked on Syracuse corners — notably Antwan Cordy — for a good portion of the evening.
When Syracuse has the ball, Moe Neal’s basically been the savior yet again. He has two catches for 67 yards (both huge grabs to help set up the second field goal), plus four carries for 19 yards on the ground. Syracuse has largely abandoned running on first down, and the result is Tommy DeVito being completely under siege. Once Clemson cranked up the blitz, Tommy DeVito’s struggled to get the ball out quickly and is flushed out of the pocket immediately. He’s been sacked six times already and is just 9-of-17 for 139 yards through the air. That’s also a bit deceptive, though, since there have been a few big drops from his receivers.
Lakiem Williams leads Syracuse with five tackles so far, and Kenneth Ruff and Kendall Coleman each have four. While the Orange have yet to sack Lawrence, they’ve gotten a few hits on him and Alton Robinson’s gotten a hand up to disrupt things a little (including one pass break-up).
Syracuse gets the ball at the half, and if they can punch in their first touchdown of the night, they’re right back in this one. Leave your comments below and we’ll have a quick recap up once the game wraps.