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Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 22-20 win over Virginia

Sudden Cardiac Cuse equals Sickos game

NCAA Football: Virginia at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Bet you didn’t expect Cardiac Cuse to show up tonight.

The Syracuse Orange played a messy game on offense and left points on the board. However, Tony White’s defense buckled down and held down the fort to defeat the Virginia Cavaliers 22-20 to move to 4-0 on the season.

Here’s our three takeaways from a much tighter than anticipated game.

The Mob is after you

Apart from the first drive of the third quarter, this game was defined by the Syracuse defense. The only success that Virginia found were on long, grindy drives that included non-stop running and short passes. The pressure that got to Brennan Armstrong was incredible. It was easily the best performance from the defensive line and linebackers in terms of getting to the quarterback this season, with four sacks. And a great job from the defensive backs, as Virginia found little to no success on medium and deep balls.

Defense kept Syracuse in this game. Thank god for that.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Someone help Tucker

Sean Tucker only had 60 yards rushing on 21 carries with a long of nine yards. There’s definite concern over a second straight game where he’s not going to be pleased with his performance. But he’s not getting help from two areas. One, the offensive line blocking has been horrendous for the past two games. Virginia routinely got to Tucker at or before the line of scrimmage to initiate contact. Second, despite the blocking woes, the runs for Tucker were designed to go between the tackles, a revert to the 2019 and 2020 offense. He only had runs around the tackles once, maybe twice. We know what Tucker can do when he gets into open space. He needs help getting there.

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Don’t see red in the red zone

This game shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Six red zone trips resulted in one touchdown (on the opening drive) and five field goals. While we’re all excited for Szmyt to happen, quick mental math shows you that the Orange left at least 35 points on the board. This was a drastic regression to 2020 and 2021, when the Orange similarly struggled to score in the red zone. Both players and coaches are equally at fault here, with play calls that didn’t make sense and reads from Shrader that didn’t make sense either. This should have been a more comfortable game for Syracuse.