The Syracuse Orange have lost their four-game winning streak in bowls with a 28-20 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It was a winnable game throughout, with SU just not finishing off some crucial drives. That doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives to take away from the game and carry into the offseason.
Here’s what stood out the most:
LeQuint Allen Looks Legit
It seems that the Orange rushing attack is in good hands. With Sean Tucker going to the NFL, LeQuint Allen was favored to take his place as the bell cow, and he showed why today. Allen rushed 15 times for 94 yards (6.3 YPC) and added 11 catches for 60 more through the air, making the Gopher defense look silly at points with sharp cuts and a pair of 20+ yard dashes.
Keep in mind, he put up those numbers in what was a very pass-heavy day for Garrett Shrader. LeQuint’s certainly got the tools to succeed as a primary back, so keep an eye on his development through the spring.
First Impressions of Jason Beck’s Offense
Beck’s attack showed shades of Robert Anae’s offense from the regular season. There was some trickery with a pair of reverse tosses to Trebor Pena and an attempted flea flicker in the 1st quarter. As the game progressed, his gameplan got a bit more streamlined, transitioning into the air raid system that was teased all year. The two-minute drill right before halftime came through to cut the deficit in half. While the offense got shut down at points, specifically when the passing attempts got a bit too aggressive on short-yardage situations, there’s two things to bring up.
First, this was Beck’s debut game as OC. We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. Second, there was this crazy tactic of targeting more than one receiver that worked quite well. It’s a shame that Devaughn Cooper was the man to step up, if only because he is gone for 2023. There were some flashes from Damien Alford too. The point is that the offense looks to be in decent shape under new leadership, and we’ll have to wait a bit to find out if it’s more than that.
Hey, I said there were some positives. (As the old saying goes, 2/3 ain’t bad...)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before - stupid penalties and costly turnovers cost Syracuse the game. The Orange only got back in the game thanks to Mohamed Ibrahim sitting out the second half, true, but they could never take the lead.
The Gophers’ 70-yard pick-six killed the momentum ‘Cuse was building; combine that with a lost fumble, a shanked punt, and more offensive penalties that later led to a turnover on downs, and you have the same issue that plagued Syracuse all season.
I know I glossed over the defense, but not a lot caught my eye. Justin Barron, Kadin Bailey, and Kevin Jobity all had their moments to build on, and Nick Monroe did fine as the interim DC. I’m curious to see how the 3-3-5 with a lot of new faces performs next season under Rocky Long.
At the very least, this game showed the potential of some young players who will battle for key positions on next season’s team. A win wasn’t expected here, but progress was. We saw enough of that to hopefully satisfy fans at the end of what was a chaotic football campaign.