The hope is that if you are a 20-plus point favorite heading into a football game, the grades after it would be quite good.
Thankfully for the Syracuse Orange, that is the case.
A convincing 48-14 victory at UConn is the exact game that Syracuse needed to support its impressive opening week performance. While all eyes turn to this week’s gargantuan matchup against Purdue, let’s review the units that well and those that need a bit of a boost.
I’m still having trouble processing that this is the same Garrett Shrader that we saw last season.
Two things are becoming clear as the season is trudging along:
- Shrader’s improved mechanics have increased his accuracy greatly.
- Robert Anae is putting his quarterback in the best position to succeed.
We can now make that first statement with more confidence as most of Shrader’s passes in week one were short-to-mid range. Against UConn, his long ball came online and he didn’t miss his targets. He short-armed a couple of balls early in the game, but he hit pretty much all his shots from the second quarter on.
We’ll get to more about the second statement a little bit later…
Running Backs: A-
Sean Tucker wasn’t exactly perfectly pleased with his performance.
112 yards is still a great haul, though.
4.1 yards per carry is also not a bad average, but I think Tucker expected more, especially against the competition he was facing. He only got 17 yards through the air, and seeing what we saw against Louisville, Tucker probably wants more as well. But it’s nice to now have expectations about what you want from your players. Still a good game from Tucker, though.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A
This is where my second statement about Shrader comes in.
First of all, no dropped balls from the receivers was a great mark of improvement. Secondly, receivers have run great routes to gain separation from every defender in each game. What that has given Anae the opportunity to do is send receivers over the middle. This is where Shrader’s throws feel more comfortable and have a bit more power on them. And that doesn’t succeed if the receivers get the space they need for Shrader hit them. A great performance.
Offensive Line: B-
At least we didn’t see yellow laundry on the floor.
The reduction of penalties was nice, but there were still some concerns. Part of Tucker’s “good” performance and not great performance was due to a lot of penetration stopping him early. I’m referring to Steve a lot here, who noted problems during this week’s edition of Troy Nunes is an Absolute Podcast. This line is going to have his hands full against a Purdue line that likes to defend against the run.
Defensive Line: B-
Once again, the quality of this unit drops when the backups come into the game. One of the big touchdowns that UConn ripped off was when they were in the game. Compared to last week, a quiet game from the starters, but there is still concern as UConn rushers routinely got to the second level of defense without much effort. There’s still work for to be done for a young unit.
You know what you’re getting with Mikel Jones and Marlowe Wax.
Good luck stopping them.
One of the most impressive things is that even if UConn found something in the passing game against the linebackers in coverage, the receivers didn’t go much farther. As usual, this unit is the focal point of the attack and it showed against the Huskies. Derek McDonald didn’t show too much in his first start, but he didn’t stand out in making mistakes, which is all you can ask of him right now. As usual, a solid showing.
Defensive Backs: A
This was probably the most impressive unit. Yes, UConn had a freshman quarterback making only his second career start. But UConn’s offense was rendered one-dimensional due to the coverage and big hits that the corners and safeties delivered. The secondary continues to look strong. Not much needs to be said, which is a nice refreshing change of pace from some other recent years.
Special Teams: A-
Not much explosive happened from the special teams, but a clean performance is all you probably want, especially given what we saw at times last year. A couple of short kickoffs weren’t great, but that’s my only gripe. The coverage was great and the special teams did all they needed to do.
Now it’s your turn. What grades are you giving? Sound off in the comments below.