In a Friday night game where the Syracuse Orange came to play, they came up just short of the upset attempt on the Clemson Tigers, falling 17-14. The Orange put up solid numbers on the night, finishing with 356 yards of total offense, with Garrett Shrader throwing for 191, primarily in the second half and the rushing game led by Sean Tucker running for 165 yards on the night. The offense ultimately came up short, but put in a valiant effort.
This defense came to play when the Orange needed them to.
The Orange defense has had a solid year this year, even better than the numbers and points scored show. This game, they gave Syracuse a chance to take the lead late, stuffing the Clemson offense when they had been moving the ball decently. While it ended up not mattering ultimately, the fact they brought the muster they did against a talented, though slightly disfunctional on the year, Clemson offense.
To hold this Clemson team to 17 and have their way with them when they truly needed to was an impressive feat for the defense. They only gave up 314 yards of total offense to the Tigers at an average of 4.30 yards per play. The Orange offense actually ran at a clip of 5.31 yards per play.
Mikel Jones got after it with a team high 11 tackles, including one for a loss. Stefon Thompson and Cody Roscoe each added to their sack totals with one a piece. All in all they dialed up what they needed to in order to counter the Clemson attack, keeping the run contained and D.J. Uiagelelei held to only 181 yards passing.
We’re very pleased with Sean Tucker’s performance.
Another 100-yard game and almost to the 1,000-yard mark on the season, Tucker is showing he’s still the real deal against the best front he’s faced so far, still eclipsing the mark. Bolstered by a 54-yard pickup, he had another great game that was fitting for the season he’s having. While it’s good to get him a rest, the lack or use at the beginning of the second half was confusing. He worked his way back into the groove and finished the day for with a solid 183 all-purpose yards and 163 rushing.
On the rest of the offense, the Orange resorted to chucking up, as Mike Golic Jr. aptly called them, “YOLO Balls” in the second half after not riding Tucker early in the second half. It payed off on a connection to Trebor Pena on a beautiful strike from Shrader for the second Orange touchdown, though I don’t think anyone thought that method would be sustainable. Still points are points.
Garrett Shrader turns out to have a little clutch left in his game. He completed the aforementioned ball to Pena, Damien Alford also made a clutch play to keep the last drive alive. Anthony Queeley then hauled in a Shrader pass converting fourth down, followed by playing DB on the next throw were huge.
Self inflicted wounds
Penalties alone had a major impact on sustaining drives. Garrett Shrader killed momentum on the opening drive with the facemask on his attempt to break the line to gain. Geoff Cantin-Arku’s late hit helped the Tigers toward their first touchdown, sustaining their drive and keeping the defense on the field. Cooper Lutz’s illegal block on the last punt return made everyone’s life tougher on a good Pena return. False starts, in big moments from Matthew Bergeron and Kalan Ellis
Garrett Shrader’s pick in the first half left the Orange out to dry. It was a sustained drive and a throw forced into coverage when there was two available checkdowns. Ill advised at best and nullified a red-zone attempt for the Orange in a game that they needed to capitalize on Sean Tucker doing Sean Tucker things, like running for a 54-yard gain.
Drops on catchable balls and missing the fake punt, which seemed relatively telegraphed also contributed to various parts of the game where Syracuse could have “controlled the controllables” and failed to.