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Syracuse football: three takeaways from the 38-10 loss to Virginia Tech

Okay, it’s time to (really) panic.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange football team reached a season-low in morale after Thursday night’s embarrassing 38-10 defeat on the road against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

A promising start to the season thanks to a historic 4-0 start against out-of-conference play has turned into four straight losses in the ACC. There’s a lot to discuss, both on the field and off of it, so let’s get to the chase and take a look at the three main takeaways from the Orange’s loss in Blacksburg.

The offense remains on life support

A once-promising offense has indeed been plagued by subpar offensive line play all year coupled the continued absences of Oronde Gadsden and Trebor Pena. With that said, it’s hard to overlook that Syracuse has scored 34 points in its four ACC games.

It will be easy to point out Syracuse’s defense against its conference opponent. To be fair, the Orange’s defensive unit had its mistakes against the Hokies, and Syracuse has allowed its last four opponents to score 31 points or more.

At the same time, Syracuse continues to dig itself in a hole way too early in games. This current offense can maybe maintain a small lead, but it won’t outscore opponents who have the early upper hand. Garrett Shrader, in particular, has struggled scrambling out of the pocket and being consistent with his throws. LeQuint Allen is solid, but he’s working too hard for three-yard gains.

In college football, you’re only good as your best players, and Syracuse’s best players have, quite frankly, played below their expected outcomes.

The hot seat gets even hotter

What the program’s future would like beyond the 2023 season is far more of a mystery now than it was to begin the year, especially after the Virginia Tech loss.

The decision remains whether coach Dino Babers will receive a contract extension following the end of this year. During the preseason, there were arguments to be made across the board, from firing him if the Orange had a poor season to the lame-duck and extension options.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

It’s understandable that the Orange were outpaced by Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina. They were resounding defeats, but outside of the game against the Tigers, it was unrealistic especially after Gadsden’s injury that Syracuse had nothing more than a puncher’s chance.

But the bye week was meant to be a reset for the Orange, a chance at redemption the rest of the way this season.

Instead, Syracuse fell behind early and was never in contention to comeback against Virginia Tech. Even worse, the problems haven’t gone away.

Redemption arc?

The only good piece of news for the Orange is that Friday’s game will have all the stakes in the world for Babers and the rest of the team. A victory leaves Syracuse one win away from a bowl game. It’s a Friday night matchup against the Boston College Eagles, and keep in mind that Babers is 8-4 in the “Friday Night Lights” specials.

Of course, there’s also the flip side — a loss here makes for an awkward final three games against Pittsburgh in Yankee Stadium, Georgia Tech on the road and Wake Forest at home.

The best case scenario for Syracuse is still 6-7 wins and a bowl nod. Will getting to that outcome come in the most efficient way? Not necessarily.

Strap in, folks. Things are about to get interesting.