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Syracuse football: Is this optimism we’re feeling?

Almost everything went right in the opening week upset over Louisville

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

I now understand what it means to be a #disloyalidiot. After most of the Nunes crew (myself included) picked the Syracuse Orange to lose to the Louisville Cardinals, SU came out with some of the most inspired play that I’ve seen in a long time.

Garrett Shrader was throwing accurate passes all over the field. Sean Tucker started off his Heisman run right with big plays on the ground and in the air. THERE WAS EVEN A TD PASS TO A TIGHT END!

OK fine, Gadsden is clearly lined up as a receiver... but he’s a TE on the roster so that’s what we’re going with.

That’s not even getting into the defense, who were flat out spectacular last night. They forced turnovers on three straight possessions and were able to limit perhaps the best scrambling QB in the nation to a meager 34 yards on the ground. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s back it up a bit.

First up for the offense is Shrader. Garrett looked and played like a man on a mission, racking up over 300 all-purpose yards to go with 3 TDs. His passing mechanics look much improved over last season, and he credited his improvement towards the coaching staff that stuck with him.

“It wasn’t easy, especially talking about last year, but I think it’s gonna play out well, the decision (Head Coach Dino Babers) made, having faith in me,” Shrader said. “I’m really grateful for him, and we have a long way to go.”

“There’s no doubt you can follow him,” Babers said. “He shows you the way... and you want to follow his lead.”

Sean “Trucker” did what is expected out of a potential Heisman candidate, including getting the scoring party started with a 55-yard catch-and-run TD. I think it’s safe to say that after that dash, Tucker really did upgrade his jets even more in the spring.

Tucker would add a rushing score later in the game and give his resume an early boost. All that’s missing is a tweet...

Of course I didn’t forget about the sturdy defense. Their first change of possession was this incredible interception by Garrett Williams. Although the video doesn’t show it the best, he covered a lot of ground to quickly snatch what would’ve been a Cardinals TD.

“Our coaches talked about, all week, just looking for work when you’re in zone coverage,” Williams said. “My man went underneath, so when I saw Malik looking at the deep post, I felt like it was necessary for me to climb. When I saw the ball, I just tried to make a play.”

Part of that quote echoes what Williams said earlier in the week, that the defense was aware of Cunningham’s improved passing on post routes. Babers also said that he knows that same play has bit the Orange more than once in the past, and that he’s happy that the defense was prepared this time.

There were just a few negatives. The first is injuries, and there’s really nothing that could’ve been done here. FB Chris Elmore went down early and had to be carried off the field - a major loss considering Syracuse didn’t win a game with him out last year. The Orange got by without his blocking this time but I’m crossing all five pairs of fingers that it’s not a season-ending injury. After a bit of a scare with Tucker where you could hear a pin drop, he got back up and was fine in the 2nd half. The other injury that stuck was Stefon Thompson, who also had to be helped off. He and Rhino did not return; we’ll keep an eye out for any updates on them.

The second thing was the penalties - Syracuse had 18 of them for 107 lost yards. Most of the mistakes were made by the offensive line. Every lineman except Matthew Bergeron was called for a false start, mostly incited by pre-snap movement in the backfield. I trust Mike Schmidt to shore that up soon.

Attendance for the game was only 37,110, but it sounded a lot, LOT louder than that. I haven’t heard consistent crowd noise like that since the Eric Dungey days. Otto’s Army was packed to the brim, and many other fans were just as rowdy all game.

“The noise level was through the roof, and there’s no doubt it affected a really special athlete in Malik Cunningham,” Babers said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the atmosphere.”

“It reminded me of the good old days, and it also told me we need more. There was a lot of people in there, but it wasn’t a full house.”

So Syracuse is off to a good start in the Loud House this year. Time will tell if they can keep playing well enough to turn it into a Full House.


  • Garrett Shrader - 18/25, 237 passing yards, 2 TDS; 95 rushing yards, 1 TD
  • Sean Tucker - 98 rushing yards, 1 TD; 85 receiving yards, 1 TD
  • Steve Linton - 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and fumble recovery