What we learned from Syracuse football’s 45-20 loss to South Florida

first_imgSyracuse (1-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped its matchup with South Florida (3-0, 1-0 American Athletic), 45-20, after leading 17-0 in the first quarter. The Orange struggled to capitalize after scoring two touchdowns and a field goal in that first frame.Here’s what we learned.Orange is the new fast… on defenseSouth Florida just spent 8 minutes 11 seconds to score six touchdowns against Syracuse. That’s an average of about 1 minute 21 seconds of possession per touchdown. And that’s still better than Louisville last week, who averaged 59 seconds per touchdown drive.Dino Babers has somewhat lived up to its billing, but his defense has lived up to a totally different and unwanted reputation. The Orange has been run around the field all season by its FBS opponents. On the season, that means Syracuse’s FBS opponents’ average scoring drive time is 1 minute 9 seconds — not exactly a good number.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA big culprit of short drives has been the big plays Syracuse has been susceptible to.“We had a couple mental breakdowns,” linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “… Those mental breakdowns led to the momentum shifting. It made it a game. By the time we got back on our game, USF had a lot of momentum.”Injuries can cripple SyracuseSyracuse came into Saturday night’s game with four injuries to starters — center Jason Emerich, safeties Antwan Cordy and Kielan Whitner and cornerback Juwan Dowels — and faced several other injuries during the game.Early against South Florida, wide receiver Ervin Philips came off the field rotating his shoulder, but re-entered the game, Eric Dungey was slow to get up several times, running back Dontae Strickland was slow to get up with what looked like an ankle injury, Colin Byrne came off the field for a short time and safety Daivon Ellison was sent off the field for an apparent injury once.While those players appeared to be OK, several other players left the game for long stretches. Defensive tackle Kayton Samuels appeared to get his ankle rolled under another teammate and only returned to the game for one snap and Omari Palmer was injured and left the game, never coming back in.Altogether, the injuries have depleted an already thin roster. After the team exited the first quarter with a clean bill of health, it struggled mightily for the rest of the game.“We have to find a way to win with the people that we have, with the depth that we have, with the injuries that we have,” Babers said. “No excuses.”Eric Dungey’s stat line won’t be indicative of how he playedJust take a look at his stat line: 350 yards, 66 percent of his passes were completed and he threw two touchdowns. Yes, Dungey had two interceptions, but many Syracuse fans would have taken that stat line last season.This season, that amounted to a disappointing game. Dungey was inaccurate on several short throws and struggled after the first quarter, when he torched USF for 138 yards, both of his touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his passes.“So many times with the quarterback, I know that’s the one everyone can see, but a lot of times his days depend on so many other people,” Babers said. “On the offensive line, we lost our center, there were snaps that were on the ground that he had to handle, wide receivers making sure that they’re doing everything exactly right.“And when you’re standing back there and you’ve got three rushers coming at you, you have to make sure, ‘Is that guy getting blocked? Because this guy was supposed to come over here and block that guy, is that going to happen?”Dungey chalked his struggles up to “execution” in what was easily his worst game of the season. Comments Published on September 17, 2016 at 11:05 pm Contact Chris: cjlibona@syr.edu | @ChrisLibonati Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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