Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 41-17 loss against North Carolina State

William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange had a rough one as soon as they left the team bus today, losing 41-17 to the NC State Wolfpack. Some explosive plays, including a kickoff return for a touchdown and a pick-six by Drake Thomas opened up the gap that the Orange couldn’t overcome on the day.

Sean Tucker is your single season Syracuse rushing leader.

First things first, Sean Tucker needs to get his due. Tucker broke the single season rushing record, held for 42 years by Joe Morris with ten minutes left in the second quarter. The record breaking run was a nice bounce off tackle, with a second move to miss the onrushing defensive back, much as we’ve come to expect from Tucker. He finished the day with 105 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries, a travesty.

Beyond that, there were few bright spots for the Orange on either side of the ball. The defense gave up 399 yards, with 303 of them in the air, over the top of the Orange secondary. The offense only managed 238 of their own, including a whopping 9 of 21 passing for 66 yards and an interception. That brings up the question “Why won’t Syracuse give the ball to the best player on the field more?” The Orange, after riding him for days in the early part of the season, only gave him eight carries in the first half and thirteen total.

This team has been figured out.

I know it’s been probably obvious for a while now, but defenses have figured out what to do against this team. Let Garrett Shrader put the ball in the air, then spy him and try and contain Tucker. Tucker still is getting his, Shrader may get a little something going, but without a downfield threat, the defense can man up and break down any attempt at Shrader calling his own number out of these sets. For some reason NC State at various points stopped spying Shrader, and he made the most of it, but overall he was ineffective in the passing game (8-20, 63 yards), allowing the Wolfpack to set up on the run all day.

The past two games, there hasn’t been a single shred of offense that made it seem like the Orange knew what they were doing, outside of individual brilliance. While some of that can be attributed to Chris Elmore going down, and some injuries along the offensive line, that’s not great. It’s not sustainable and with the defense not looking as good as they have in the past, it’s basically gameplanning for a loss.

Sterlin Gilbert came out of the gates with the best running back in the country and he didn’t touch the ball until at least play eight of the script, while trying to have a quarterback who can’t throw past the yard markers take to the air in an unbalanced attack out of the gates. The 4D chess needs to be removed, or Gilbert himself does.

Defense looks fine until it doesn’t

Big shots over the top were the bane of the Syracuse defense’s existence this game. Leary dropped a few dimes in the first half, that got the Orange reeling, and those bookended an NC State kickoff return for a touchdown that immediately answered Sean Tucker’s explosive score of his own after he responded to the pick-six. The edges of the defense were exploited in the run and pass game today.

The Wolfpack offensive line took it directly to the three man line and was able to put bodies on the Orange linebacking corps, leading to the opening of these running lanes off the edge that have been showing up the last two games. The loss of Josh Black early in the game didn’t help the cause in that manner either. With his arm in a sling and him finishing the game in street clothes, the signs aren’t great for him next week either. It’s become apparent that running off the edges of this team is a recipe for disaster.

As mentioned, the secondary got hit hard along the edges, with homeruns over Jason Simmons over the top on a wide zone and Duce Chestnut over the top in one on one coverage. Eventually, the Orange were at the mercy of whatever NC State wanted to do in the game, with the Wolfpack cruising in the second half. While they didn’t give up any big over-the-top touchdowns, they gave up a good bit of chunk yardage that made a big difference.



It doesn’t matter anymore. It just doesn’t. We can’t pass even to open people. And any decent DC should know and stop us cold.
It’s absurd that Tucker is not getting 35 touches a game by handoff, reception or any other way to put it in his hands.
We can’t beat Pitt next week. And the spread should be 17 points easily.

How much of the offensive ineptitude is a result of

Chris Elmore being out and offensive line injuries? A successful run heavy offense needs to have its top blockers to be at its best. Maybe we are underestimating the value of Elmore, Vettorello and Bleich. It’s also possible that the coaching staff knows the team can’t run anymore like it did earlier in the season and tried to establish the passing attack as a result. I’m not saying for sure this is the case and that too much blame is going to Gilbert and Shrader but it’s possible.

Best news of the day is that Pitt beat Virginia and punched their ticket into the ACC championship game. Someone tell Pitt they should definitely rest Pickett and their scary good defensive line against Syracuse. Don’t want to risk any injuries

I don't buy it.

Obviously having rhino and the others healthy helps in a big way, but Tucker has played well with him for most of the season and was productive in his 8(!) First half carries. This was blatant ignorance and refusal to play downhill sledding football. This has been a pattern all season. Rutgers- Tucker breaks a play and doesn’t touch the ball the rest of the game. Clemson- Tucker has 120 yards in the first half and gets used sparingly in the second. This isn’t injury, this is stupidity. There’s enough evidence to say that clearly now.

*well without

Tucker breaks a 55 yarder

then doesn’t touch the ball on the next series.

The only D1 school that has a QB that can't pass the ball?

Miss St made him a WR for a reason

I have come to the sad conclusion that it unlikely that Dino will ever turn this thing around.

It pains me to say this because I like Dino.
I was a Babers booster every step of the way until the Louisville game.
He had a successful career before he got here and I don’t think that the program’s woes are entirely his fault but clearly after 71 games as head coach, a significant percentage of them are.


Coaching ineptitude

Every team has injuries and it is how you deal with those injuries. The coaching staff here does not know how to game plan and Sterling Gilbert needs to and should be fired at a minimum. How can you not utilize one of the best running backs in the country and then not coach up your quarterback throughout the season. Absolute ineptitude on the cutting staff itself. I’d like to Shrader and his ability to extend plays. However there comes a point where you need to change it up and give another player a shot. Especially when you’re losing by such a large margin it does not make sense to not have a different quarterback try his hand. Unfortunately we will be stuck with Dino for another year and along with Wildhack for that matter, both should be let go after the season.

Caveman coaching

The offensive coaching staff looks lost, might as well spend the off season incorporating the triple option.

3 Takeaways

1. Fire Dino…..he can’t even evaluate the QB position properly. How he kept Shrader in there is inexcusable

2. Fire Dino….went how long before getting Tucker into the game plan? Someone said Cuse is great at scripting plays. Like most good things thought about Dino, they prove to be wrong.

3. Fire Dino….why would anyone with any type of a skill want to stay or play here under him? Hes proven he can’t spot it, or won’t give another player a chance if the one ahead of them sucks. Dont be surprised if the every QB. Not counting Shrader because Dino is the only one foolish enough to think he is one.

Maybe Shrader needs glasses?

How can he miss so many open throws. He throws like "Nuke LaLoosh" in Bull Durham. I wonder how many Mascots he has hit so far this year that have gone unreported.

Anyone want a mulligan on that TDV/GS debate?

Big lesson should be: be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.

I hate that we’re in this position but, I told you so.

GS under center is nothing but a gimmick with a shelf life

And it has expired.

The game had two moments

Where they could have kept it competitive. The first was after they scored, but the kick return was an uppercut to the nuts. They moved down the field though and had a chance to score and cut into the lead with momentum and the ball after halftime. It was 3rd and 6 and there was a receiver wide open on an 8 yard curl. Shrader wasn’t off his back foot, he actually had time to set his feet. It was the most basic pitch and catch like you do on the sideline before coming in the game. And he missed it by a yard and a half. Their QB immediately dropped a 45 yard dime, then avoided an unblocked rusher and threaded a needle into the end zone. Game over.

I was at the game

1. It was greatly disheartening that they didn’t try to run Tucker until the 7th / 8th play of the game. I turned to the SU fan next to me and commented ‘we have the best running back in the country, and we decide to have a non-throwing QB just keep throwing instead’. He nodded knowingly.

2. I’m not sure how obvious is was on tv, but the Syracuse receivers were open all day long, and Shrader wasn’t throwing to the same zip code they were in.

3. In the first half of the game, Shrader completed three passes. Two of those were for negative yards.

Yeah, it was apparent on TV

probably not as much as in person though and we thought it was bad as it was!

He also threw another completion for a touchdown in the first half. Just happened to be the wrong team.

His interception was the most accurate pass of the day

He nailed the linebacker right in the numbers.

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