The Syracuse Orange travelled to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Unfortunately Syracuse left winless, falling 45-21 to the Irish. The Orange racked up possibly their best offensive game of the year, with 185 passing yards and a touchdown from Rex Culpepper and 229 yards on the ground and a pair of long scores from the running backs. They also turned the ball over four times, with the Irish capitalizing on three of them for scores. A few takeaways of note:
Syracuse is their own worst enemy
Throughout the game, the Orange didn’t help themselves out in any way. Every time something got going on either side of the ball, a big play or penalty turned the tide in the worst possible way.
In the first, Syracuse stopped the Irish on a second drive, and were facing third and long, with an incomplete pass, unfortunately Kingsley Johnathan was called for roughing the passer, keeping the Notre Dame drive alive, leading to an Irish touchdown.
Later in the half, the offensive mistakes began, including Rex Culpepper’s issues. Culpepper had two fumbles, one at the end of the first half, and another in the third quarter, immediately after a Jahad Carter interception. He then followed up with his next drive with an interception to a defender he must somehow have not seen.
Tight end Aaron Hackett proceeded to fumble a ball that would have been a great third down conversion to keep a drive going when the game was still tight. Overall, the quick giveaways provided more of an issue for an already gassed defense, which allowed the Irish to start running up the score later in the third and through the fourth quarters.
Chris Elmore is The running backs are the offensive MVP
Sean Tucker and Cooper Lutz may have put up the stat lines, but Chris Elmore, the Rhino, was the unsung MVP on the day for the Orange. He blew open lead block on Tucker’s long touchdown run. He proceeded to keep pushing linebackers around to open holes for the two running backs. Hell, he even had a reception in the fourth quarter and almost had a solid kickoff return if not for an errant fair catch call behind him. He didn’t get under center, but he did everything else.
Sean Tucker made his own name for himself, becoming the first running back on the year to rush for over 100 yards on the Fighting Irish. He finished the game with 113 yards on 24 carries and a score. That included the great 40-yard run for a score that Elmore was the lead blocker on.
Lutz came in later becoming the second rusher on the season to crest the century mark. He finished with 102 yards and a score on 6 carries, including the 80-yard touchdown run. All in all, the run game and the pass game were both relatively successful, if the team didn’t keep shooting themselves in the foot.
Freshmen gave a great sendoff for the season
To create some discussion for next season, the Orange freshmen made a name for themselves on the day. Sean Tucker’s impressive day was showcased above, but wasn’t the only young gun to leave his mark on the game.
Jahad Carter, the freshman safety snagged an interception ending Ian Book’s consecutive pass with out a pick streak. He also had some solid coverage and finished with five solo tackles. In general Garrett Williams looked good in coverage, Stefon Thompson and Marlowe Wax had a solid game at the linebacker spot and the defensive backs all were solid until late.
The defensive side of the ball, even with what they gave up, impressed on the day. It was enough to prompt Tony Dungey to compliment the Syracuse unit, stating, “What they have is a young, active defense.” He apparently liked what he saw, and fans should at least look forward to the youth movement to come next season.