It was an embarrassing day for the boys in blue and orange and losses like this spark a lot of concern. However, before fans continue to call for the A.J. Long era to begin or question the athletic department's judgement of hiring Scott Shafer, lets go through a few pluses and minuses from Saturay's awful loss; and then calmly back ourselves off the edge.
Minus - Syracuse timely miscues
It is tough to say the Orange had a chance Saturday even if they played well, but if the Orange want to compete in the ACC they will need to cut down on the timely miscues that have killed them.
Syracuse second play from scrimmage was a false start after a nice nine-yard run by Terrel Hunt. With second down and six to go, SU's play calling was disrupted and led to an opening three-and-out.
On the Orange's second possession, they started at their own six-yard line and moved it to midfield before being forced to punt. It seemed like SU flipped the field position, but Georgia Tech blocked the punt, recovered it and scored four plays later.
SU's third possession started off well. After a nice Prince-Tyson Gulley kick return placed the ball at midfield, SU moved down to GT's 22-yard line. However, the Orange moved backwards after offensive lineman Rob Trudo committed a false start, Hunt was tackled for a loss of three, a nice run by Hunt was negated by a holding penalty that set SU back to GT's 40-yard line and then Hunt tossed an interception.
From there, Syracuse did NOTHING on offense because it was forced to do things its not good at -- like rely on the passing game and, as we know now, defend the spread option offense.
Plus - SU's early game plan
Fans are still questioning Hunt's and offensive coordinator's George McDonald's performance, but consider these things from early in the game: 1) Syracuse did move the ball in two of its first three possessions and should have put points on the board, but, again, penalties and bad decision halted any momentum it could create; 2) Hunt was 4-for-7 for 47 yards passing and had a couple few nice rushes -- two negated by penalties -- before his first interception.
Obviously, it is tough to predict what would have happened if Syracuse didn't fall behind 21-0, but I am guessing if the score was more 14-6 or 14-10, things would have been a bit differently on offense.
Still, I understand there's a lot of concern about how high Hunt can take us, however, when this team is doing what they want on offense they're hard to stop. It just can't do what they want when they're down big early.
Minus - Pitiful defense
As the season moves on the one coach I am questioning the most is defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough. Why? After seven games the Orange's defense has seemingly been out-coached in nearly every game against a legit BCS opponent, and Bullough's performance was at its worst Saturday when for some reason he decided to use a 3-4 defense to try and stop GT's spread option offense, which when it wanted to score a touchdown pretty much did.
For a unit that was suppose to be the Orange's strongest assets -- its defensive line is better than originally thought, a dynamic linebacking corps and an experienced secondary (even after Keon Lyn's injury) -- but it has not been at all good.
If you discard SU's game against Wagner and Tulane, the Orange are giving up 33 points and 479 yards per game on defense. I will end this thought there.
Plus - Breaks in the schedule
As much as Syracuse fans are dreading their team's visit the Florida State, which could get very, very ugly now that the Seminoles are No. 2 in the BCS standings, the Orange next few games setup pretty well.
First, SU gets a Wake Forest Demon Deacons squad after a bye week and in the Carrier Dome. Though, Wake Forest, which has earned back-to-back victories, has played better in recent weeks, it will be coming off a contest with the Miami Hurricanes that should showcase Wake Forest throwing the sink at them. Hopefully, this helps SU prepare for them better.
Second, if you didn't notice the Maryland Terrapins are in a lot of trouble. They were beaten badly by Wake Forest this Saturday and in the process lost a few more big-time players to season-ending injuries -- wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.
It is a game-by-game thing with the Orange, but they can get back on track if they can execute better the next few weeks.
Minus - John Raymon's injury
Not much else needs to be said. This kid has busted his butt to get on the field for the Orange and it is awful this happened to him.
Plus - Georgia Tech is off the schedule for awhile
Because of the ACC's crossover scheduling, this will be the last time Syracuse plays the Yellow Jackets and their spread option offense for awhile. The Orange will not be seeing them until after the 2024 season.