The Syracuse Orange walked past the Holy Cross Crusaders on Saturday, earning a 41-3 win that was never really in doubt to get to 3-2 on the season heading into the bye week.
Though the result was predictably one-sided, there were still some key moments to look back on. Below, we highlight some of the biggest plays of the game in GIF form:
1. (12:55 - 1st) 2nd & 10 at Syracuse’s 49-yard line: Against the Western Michigan Broncos, Dino Babers and Mike Lynch utilized the quick passes to move the chains, alleviate the pressure the offensive line faced and set up his patented tempo. With Aaron Hackett setting up the block on the screen pass, Taj Harris scampered down the sideline for a 19-yard gain.
2. (11:53 - 1st) 2nd & 6 at Holy Cross’s 14-yard line: With Trishton Jackson’s ability, it’s natural for a defensive coordinator to center a game plan around shutting him down. Going forward, teams may have to start accounting for Hackett as well. Jackson going over the middle made him the focal point of four Holy Cross defenders which allowed the big tight end to slip into the flat where he found himself on the receiving end of a Tommy DeVito touchdown.
3. (8:40 - 1st) 4th& 4 at Syracuse’s 38-yard line: Last week against Western Michigan, Syracuse’s special teams, specifically it’s punting unit, displayed why they are among the best in the nation and did so once again at the Crusaders expense. Off of a booming kick from Sterling Hofrichter, the SU pursuit led by Cameron Jordan forced Jon Jon Roberts to cough up the ball for another Syracuse takeaway; their 17th on the season.
4. (13:21 - 1st) 1st & 10 at Holy Cross’s 17-yard line: Also like their contest against the Broncos, Syracuse capitalized off of turnovers and followed it up with a score here. Not wasting any time and staying true to Dino Babers’s tempo, Devito spotted Jackson covered one on one and found him on a slant over the middle for the Orange’s second touchdown of the afternoon.
5. (3:55 - 1st) 4th & 6 at Syracuse’s 39-yard line: With two feared defensive ends in Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson, offensive coordinators have to game plan around them to buy their quarterbacks more time in the pocket. Without the size that FBS programs are afforded, Holy Cross attempted to neutralize their presence by using roll out passes to overload one side of the field and buy Connor Degenhardt time. This play call was a success earlier in the drive, but on fourth down Degenhardt overthrew Ayir Asante to give Syracuse good starting position.
6. (2:10 - 1st) 4th & 7 at Holy Cross’s 34-yard line: Games against lesser FCS opponents allow a team to not only find more time to gel, but the chance to experiment. Babers rolled with Hofrichter instead of Andre Szmyt for this field goal attempt from 52 yards out and it yielded great results. Most college programs don’t have one decent kicker while it appears that Syracuse now has two; it’s a great problem to have.
7. (12:43 - 2nd) 1st & 10 at Syracuse’s 42-yard line: For much of the first half of the season, passes to the wide receivers have been at the sideline with the middle being used sparingly. Maybe that’s something that changes going forward as DeVito’s precision pass to Harris in tandem with his ability to create in open space put the Orange on the Holy Cross side of the 50.
8. (10:15 - 2nd) 4th & 4 at Holy Cross’s 19-yard line: There weren’t many positives to take away from Saturday concerning the run game. The Syracuse offensive line had a sizeable advantage over Holy Cross, but it only amounted to 143 yards on 36 for an average of four yards per carry. They looked the part on Abdul Adams’s 19-yard touchdown run as they created a hole big enough to burst through leaving the Crusader defense in his rear view.
9. (5:06 - 2nd) 3rd & 17 at Holy Cross’s 7-yard line: The topic of player safety is one that has increased and with good reason. In an attempt to protect players from hits above the shoulders, the NCAA implemented the targeting rule to mixed results. Facing third and long as well as pressure from Coleman up the middle, Holy Cross’s Degenhardt ran out of the pocket where he was met with a bone crunching hit from Tyrell Richards. In real-time, it was bang-bang play and looked to be a clean hit, but upon review (with the benefit of slow motion), the referees determined that Richards hit Degenhardt in the restricted area and was promptly ejected from the game in addition to receiving a 15 yard penalty.
10. (8:45 - 3rd) 4th & 12 at Holy Cross’s 9-yard line: Give him some space and Sean Riley lets those covering him know why he was named to Athlon’s 2019 Preseason All-ACC First Team as a punt returner. With a couple of blocks ahead of him, the shifty senior almost broke the return for much more than 34 yards brought back.
11. (3:48 - 3rd) 3rd & 12 at Holy Cross’s 23-yard line: Two seconds was all it took for Kingsley Johnathan to beat his man off of the edge and find Degenhardt for one of the Orange’s four sacks on the game. Third and long, the SU defensive line and linebacker help is a combination that offenses might want to avoid.
12. (1:26 - 3rd) 3rd & 4 at Holy Cross’s 47-yard line: If Harris has more Saturday’s like this in the coming weeks, the game against Holy Cross will be viewed as his coming out party (for this season, anyway). DeVito found the sophomore receiver on the curl route where he used his speed and elusiveness to tack on six more points for the Orange.
13. (14:49 - 4th) 1st & 10 at Syracuse’s 30-yard line: When he doesn’t have defensive linemen breathing down his neck, DeVito reminds SU fans what he’s capable of. In a drive that ended just as quickly as it began, the redshirt sophomore found Luke Benson in stride with a ball thrown on a rope to add to the already insurmountable lead.
Heading into the bye week, the Orange are holding their collective breath as they wait for any sort of injury update on DeVito, if it’s required. Coach Babers didn’t reveal much after the game other than getting a “thumbs up” from his quarterback. The time off could not have come at a better time for this group as it gives them nearly two weeks to recover and clean up lingering issues such as ball security (three turnovers in the fourth quarter alone), offensive line play and working on more consistent tempo.
It is hard to take much from a game against a FCS opponent, but we will see what Syracuse is made of once they enter the ACC schedule beginning October 10 in Raleigh against NC State.