At some point, you have to wonder when an accident becomes a habit or a problem.
We’re slowing getting to that stage with the Syracuse Orange.
There were opportunities and many moments in Friday’s game where Syracuse looked much better than the Clemson Tigers. However, too many mistakes and self-inflicted errors prevented Syracuse from stealing another victory from Clemson on a Friday night in October at the Carrier Dome.
The icing on the cake was a 48-yard field goal that Andre Szmyt badly missed at the end of the fourth quarter which would have tied the game. Instead of heading into overtime for the second straight week, the Orange dropped their third straight game by three points.
“I haven’t seen a kick like that from him,” said Dino Babers. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a kick like that from him.”
There were many moments were it felt like Syracuse had momentum but then lost it immediately on its own accord. Penalties, which was a factor against Rutgers but not since, came back to haunt the Orange. SU committed eight penalties for 77 yards, and many of those flags were of the 15-yard variety.
One of the other back-breaking momentum moments came at the end of the first quarter. After a long Sean Tucker rush pushed Syracuse into the red zone, Garrett Shrader threw a pick to Tyler Venables to immediately kill the drive.
It was one of many moments where a Shrader pass didn’t go his way. His receivers didn’t help either with notable drops coming from Damien Alford, Courtney Jackson, and Sharod Johnson. However, Shrader’s accuracy left a lot to be desired. Taking away his 62-yard touchdown pass to Trebor Pena, Shrader went 16-36 for 129 yards.
“I’ll take the blame for a lot of it,” said Shrader. “I was missing a lot of throws early, especially in the middle, late part of the game when we’ve got to move the sticks.”
The big discrepancy also came in the play selection as well, especially in the second half. Fans started to realize that Tucker was being vastly underutilized by the Syracuse offense, with Shrader dropping back to throw more often. Tucker only touched the ball 12 times in the second half with the Orange running 36 plays. The star running back finished the game with 157 yards on 22 carries and 20 yards on two catches.
“They really started bringing their linebackers and their edge players,” said Babers. “Outside of that one deep safety they were bringing everybody. There wasn’t a lot of space.”
This was another game where the defense did about as well as you could hope for, with talented receivers just making plays over the Syracuse secondary. There wasn’t much else the Orange defense could do, holding the Tigers to 3.1 yards per carry on 37 attempts and 198 yards in the air.
However, Syracuse has blown another opportunity. This week, like it has been for a few games over the past two seasons, the Orange beat themselves more than their opponents beat them. The penalties, offensive miscues, and play calling issues are starting to become more of a pattern than a one-off occurrence.
This season could look a lot difference if the Orange didn’t step on their own toes so often. But it’s happened again.