Coming off a solid win over a decent Western Michigan team, the Syracuse Orange were sitting at 2-2, and no one really still knew who the team was. Coming out of a 41-3 victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders, some of those questions were still left unanswered. The offense put up points and the defense kept the Crusaders from scoring, which led to the Orange victory to move the team to 3-2 (0-1) on the season heading into the bye week.
Coach Dino Babers had the following to say on the effort —
“I thought our defense was fantastic. Not giving up a touchdown in a college football game is a big deal. I thought that our offense did some things well in the first half. I thought we were really quick in the first quarter and slowed down a little bit in the second. In the second half, the three turnovers obviously brought us down. But overall, I thought it was a really good game.”
The offense combined for 429 yards of total offense, second-most on the year, though the tempo dropped and they only ran 72 plays from scrimmage. That number may be artificially deflated with some long touchdown plays and the tempo dropping after Syracuse jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, but it’s slower than what Babers is looking for.
Tommy DeVito lead the passing game, with 269 yards passing on 19 completions vs. 31 passes, plus four touchdowns and an interception. The touchdowns were to four different receivers, broadening the output beyond the DeVito-Jackson connection. While Trishton Jackson did haul in one of the TDs, Luke Benson, Aaron Hackett and Taj Harris all added to the tally as well.
Hackett opened the scoring out of the gate, catching a 14-yard pass from DeVito for the opening score, and showing that tight ends are still involved in the offense. The next drive seemed stalled, until Holy Cross muffed the ensuing Syracuse punt, which was recovered by the Orange and summarily scored on the first play from scrimmage, DeVito to Jackson.
A major highlight on the week was running back Moe Neal breaking the 2,000-yard mark for his career, finishing the game with 36 yards on 11 carries, putting him in some elite company on the all time Syracuse lists. When asked what it felt like to surpass the mark and join said company. From Neal:
“Thank God. It has been a hell of a journey so it’s a surreal feeling. It is such a great accomplishment, at such a prestigious school, that has a long line of great running backs.
The defense put in a solid performance, holding the Crusaders to 138 yards of total offense, and tallying five sacks. The performance was slightly marred by the ejection of two players for targeting, redshirt sophomore linebacker Tyrell Richards and freshman defensive tackle Drew Tuazama. Richards was a slightly controversial call, which may have gone either way and thus was a bone of contention in the game.
Overall, the squad needs to get healthy and are heading into a bye week before resuming ACC play in Raleigh, N.C. against the N.C. State Wolfpack. Babers considers the week twofold, stating half would be recruiting and also, “If somebody is hurting, then they need some time off to be 100 percent because you only get one more opportunity to do this.”
The week should be important for the team still finding themselves and also still reeling with a few injuries. Defensive end Kendall Coleman noted that during the extra time for the bye, Syracuse will be working on “all the small details that coach has been talking to us about for a couple of weeks, but we haven’t been necessarily able to hone in on them.” The Orange will have the bye week to rest up and brush up on those details while preparing for that Thursday night showdown with NC State, on October 10.