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Syracuse football: Three takeaways from the last-minute win over Purdue

Cardiac Cuse lives

NCAA Football: Purdue at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty but when it ends in a Syracuse Orange win, does it really matter? The Orange couldn’t get out of their own way for most of the afternoon, but the Purdue Boilermakers decided they would be good visitors and hand the Orange a present.

The box score shows a 32-29 Syracuse win and that brings the Orange to 3-0 with the Virginia Cavaliers coming to town on Friday night. Here are three takeaways from a game I followed via television, radio and Twitter.

Syracuse overcame adversity

It was one of the areas I questioned coming into today as the first two weeks were (penalties aside) pretty-smooth for a Syracuse offense which never faced a deficit. The Orange struggled to run the ball and Garrett Shrader couldn’t connect as easily as he did last week but in the end he found a way to get it done. Standing in to make this throw to Oronde Gadsen II with the game on the line is something special.

We can dissect the first 59 minutes later but for now let’s simply enjoy the final throw from QB1.

Aggressive Anae

Trailing by five with a lot of time left it would have been no surprise to see Syracuse punt and hope the defense would continue to make plays or to run the ball with either Shrader or Sean Tucker. Instead Robert Anae dialed up a pass play that saw Gadsen fight his way through the middle, while Shrader stayed poised in the pocket. A good downfield block by Damien Alford helped the play go for 6 but

Mike Schmidt and Tony White have work to do

We expected Syracuse to lean on the running game behind a veteran offensive line but once again the opposing defense seemed to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Sean Tucker carried 18 times for 42 yards and while he might be nursing an injury from the season-opener, the fact is he hasn’t seen many clean holes either. Is this a function of Chris Elmore’s absence or does the o-line need a bit more practice time together to restore cohesion?

The Purdue passing attack is very strong and eventually they cashed in against the Orange secondary. It seemed as though there are still some issues to be ironed out in terms of communicating coverages as Garrett Williams looked for safety help against Charlie Jones (why wasn’t Syracuse doubling him late anyway?) and Aidan O’Connell found a lot of open receivers in that fourth quarter. These are issues that Syracuse will need to keep working on as the season progresses.

In the end, they don’t grade you on how pretty it looks, a win is a win is a win. Now the Orange will have to keep this momentum going on Friday night against the Virginia Cavaliers.