The Syracuse Orange have started the 2022 football season 1-0 after a dominant second half showing against Louisville last night. That leaves them with five wins to gain bowl eligibility- the goal for this season.
I had the idea for this piece last week and started writing it before last night’s game. Syracuse fans have been no different than other fanbases in taking the highs and lows to extremes after one game. Let me be clear- last night was fun and we should all enjoy it. We’re not players or coaches and this isn’t about the “one game at a time” cliché. Those of you who live and die with this program deserve to spend this weekend savoring that display last night.
What I do caution people against is getting too invested in thoughts of 5-0 and College Gameday and being ranked right now. Look those things would all be fantastic for everyone but we must invoke some #rationaloptimisim today.
Injuries to Chris Elmore and Stefon Thompson are big. The penalties could have been disastrous. Sean Tucker lying on the Dome turf made all of us cringe. However Syracuse hung in despite everything that happened. The crowd stayed with this team and the team gave the crowd a second-half performance to energize and excite.
Does this mean Syracuse is back? Maybe. I know real strong take there right? Seriously though this is a great first step and should instill confidence in the new offense and the young pups on the defensive line. We saw what a real offensive game plan looked like as Garrett Shrader was given lots of well-designed routes to hit and he was very accurate all night. Sean Tucker was put in space and this play shows why it’s important to let him get out of the muck in the middle where defenders are at his mercy.
The first week can be a challenge and the Orange showed us that the pre-season talk could be backed up in all phases of the game. It sure seems like it worked out well for Syracuse when Zach Arnett decided not to take the DC job or when Bronco Mendenhall decided to retire at Virginia. Good coaching doesn’t just come up with a plan, it instills belief in that plan.
Despite a couple of big plays the Orange defense came alive down the stretch and several plays showed that Tony White trusts his players. A four-down goal line stand kept a two-score lead. Garrett Williams reading the play and getting back into the end zone stopped all of the “oh no how are they going to blow this one” thoughts (admit it we were thinking this). Reserve linebacker Derrick McDonald took the hope away from the Cardinals with his first career interception.
The Orange might not make all the correct reads but when it mattered leaders like Williams, Mikel Jones and Shrader found a way to get it done and kept the momentum for the Orange. There were moments when the team could have felt like the game was about to slip away but they dug in and made the plays to keep themselves and the crowd in it.
It’s too early to look at one game and make assumptions about the rest of the schedule. Syracuse still has a tough road ahead but if they can navigate these first five games and find themselves sitting at 4-1 heading into the bye week, the opportunity for two more wins will be in front of this group.
No, the job won’t be finished but we’ll have some evidence to believe in as the Orange head into the stretch run.