Been a while since we’ve done this, huh? Incredible what a bye week does.
Luckily for the Syracuse Orange, Dino Babers kicked the trend of failing to perform after a bye to gain a ranked win over NC State and grant the Orange bowl eligibility. Sure, Syracuse had help with Devin Leary’s injury, but that doesn’t take away the impressive performance the Orange put up on Saturday.
Let’s go through the grades.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, I refer you to Spencer Hall’s tweet from this weekend:
Garrett Shrader is the most "something will happen this play dammit" QB— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) October 15, 2022
That one sentence perfectly encapsulates Garrett Shrader’s playstyle. I challenge you to find a play where Shrader threw a ball out of bounds. He always wants to pick up positive yards when he has the ball. That can sometimes be a detriment, as evident by the two interceptions and a near third later in the game. Granted, he wasn’t entirely at fault for those picks, but he still made the throws.
The positive is clearly in Shrader’s connection with Oronde Gadsden. We’ll get to the wideouts in a bit more detail later but Shrader seems to know where to place the ball for him to catch it. The bigger positive which boosts his grade up is his running. It’s a known factor, but he knows what a weapon Syracuse has with his legs. The Orange coaching staff are starting to strike a very nice balance between his volume and Tucker’s volume of runs, which is keeping defenses on their toes.
Running Backs: B
It wasn’t the world-breaking Sean Tucker experience we grew accustomed to last year, but it was serviceable enough. There weren’t many points in this game where Tucker was completely swallowed at the line. That’s a stark turnaround from the Purdue and Virginia games. Of course, those issues are not really his fault, but it’s been nice to see Tucker churn for some yards against tougher competition.
Oronde Gadsden: A+
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends not named Oronde Gadsden: D
I might have to keep splitting up this category from now on.
Oronde Gadsden: 8 catches, 141 yards, 2 TDs
Everyone else: 8 catches, 69 yards
It’s all great and mighty what Gadsden is doing. His size advantage creates matchup problems, especially since he’s usually matched up against smaller safeties. His route running is more crisp as well. He seemingly can adjust to anything Shrader throws to put both of them in the best position to succeed. Can you say that about any other receiver?
Offensive Line: A-
Honestly, that was impressive. What helped is that NC State plays a 3-3-5 defense, so the offensive line has had plenty of experience practicing and playing against that scheme. But Garrett Shrader didn’t get sacked and Sean Tucker had time to get some momentum going before being met by a Wolfpack tackler. Still some penalty issues, but not nearly as much. Now we pray for your safety against Clemson
Defensive Line: B-
That was a great 3-3-5 defensive line game, at least for its primary objective. They kept blockers occupied for the linebackers to flush Chambers out of the pocket. The edge contain when Chambers broke out and ran wasn’t ideal, but in general the defensive line took up the bodies they needed to take up to let the stars of the scheme dominate.
I wish we didn’t need to test linebacker depth, but it looks like the Orange will be fine. Mikel Jones and Marlowe Wax continue to have excellent seasons, making opposing ball-carriers have nightmares. And whether it was Derek McDonald or Leon Lowery, the third linebacker continued to apply pressure as well. And even when Jones went out for a couple of plays, the linebacking corps held strong. This is the highlight of Tony White’s defense.
Defensive Backs: B
Honestly, there were longer balls that probably shouldn’t have been completed (hi soft zone), but NC State never found the big play or dagger play that could massively swing the momentum their way. A lot of credit has to go to the secondary for that, especially Justin Barron. In my book, he doesn’t get enough praise for the excellent job he’s doing this season at the rover. He was everywhere and continues to be a star for the Orange.
Special Teams: A-
Just don’t shank a punt next time, Max. That was a clean performance from the special teams, in a game where they were not really needed. Not much else needs to be said.
Now it’s your turn. What grades are you guys giving out? Sound off in the comments below.