Sticking with the theme of the last two weeks, Saturday’s game against the Western Michigan Broncos featured a lot of points. But this time, it ended with the Syracuse Orange on top, 52-33. A lot of good to take away from this game, but not everything was a positive. Here are the biggest lessons learned:
Syracuse remains deadly... when the team executes
Quarterback Tommy DeVito looked like a new man against Western Michigan today. His career-best outing featured him completing 27 of 35 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns behind a better, but still weak offensive line.
SU did get a few gifts throughout the game, too. LeVante Bellamy coughed up the football at the 1-yard line and an unnecessary roughness penalty on a kick out of bounds allowed the Orange to start a drive at midfield, just to name a few examples. But unlike prior weeks, Syracuse capitalized on these opportunities. The Orange scored points off turnovers, and finally met a team willing to commit more penalties than they were.
Syracuse can’t always rely on unforced errors by their opponents to win football games, but knowing they can take advantage when those chances come along puts a lot of minds at ease.
The run game is working again
Right out of the gate, it was clear the Syracuse offensive line was geared up to go. On the very first drive, Tommy Devito ran an option play and picked up 60 yards. Two plays later, Moe Neal took a handoff 23 yards to the house. In just three plays, Syracuse exceeded its net rushing total from the last two games combined.
This was consistent throughout the game as SU finished with 258 net yards on the ground. It’s yet to be seen whether today’s successes were more due to growth on SU’s end or the benefit on taking on an opponent weaker than the last two. It is worth noting that Western Michigan’s run defense entered the game ranked 110th in the country, but development of this facet in the SU attack is certainly something that has to continue as it assisted the offense immensely compared to what we saw in the previous three games.
Secondary is suspect without Andre Cisco and Ifeatu Melifonwu
Jon Wassink is a good quarterback for Western Michigan and he had some very good plays against Syracuse. However, with two of their three best defensive backs sidelined due to lower body injuries, the Orange showcased a noticeably lacking secondary. There were times that corners got beat on deep routes, crossing receivers were left completely uncovered over the middle and easy tackles were missed, resulting in huge gains.
It’s not clear yet how long those two are expected to be out, but they were both in shorts on the sidelines and not wearing any kind of brace or bandage. Perhaps this was just a precautionary rest for both. Plus, they both have plenty of time to heal up with Holy Cross coming to the Dome next Saturday and the first bye following the week after.
What are your takeaways? There’s plenty to talk about from this game.