In the first three games of the Orange's season, their main problem had been its defense. They had given up a combined 84 points against Northwestern and USC. Even in the team's victory over Stony Brook, there were times that the Orange tackling looked sloppy to say the least.
Still, the defense had made strides, and the game this past Friday against Minnesota was supposed to be a turning point. It was supposed to be the game that Ryan Nassib and the offense finally got some support from their teammates. The Orange was supposed to win.
As it turns out, the roles were reversed. The Orange did not win, and its offense was the biggest reason.
The loss has set off a miniature "Apocalypse Now" scenario in Syracuse. The fan base has become divided over coach Doug Marrone. Some want him fired immediately, while others maintain that he isn't the problem. Almost everyone, however, is absolutely sickened by the team's performance thus far.
The Minnesota game was the proverbial straw that broke the back of the team's fan base. The offense turned the ball over, and both sides committed costly penalties. It turned out to be a worst-case scenario for the Orange.
That's why it desperately needs to put Minnesota in the rear-view mirror and look ahead to conference play.
Amidst all the turmoil, there are a few positives to take away from the Orange's early season play. Ryan Nassib, although he played poorly against the Golden Gophers, has put up ridiculous numbers.
Marcus Sales has stepped up at the wide receiver position. In addition, the Orange has shown that it can come from behind. It did so against the Wildcats and Seawolves, and it came close against the Trojans. The team is not a complete mess.
Unfortunately, the blunders and inefficiencies outweigh the positives. This is still a team that hasn't beaten an FBS opponent in almost an entire year. The special teams have been questionable to say the least, and the mental mistakes have piled up after four games. The play calling has been questioned, and Marrone's leadership qualities are being dissected. The vibe is certainly not positive.
Luckily for the the Orange, they play in the Big East. Aside from Louisville and Rutgers, the rest of the conference is pretty much beatable. There is a necessity to focus on those opponents instead of looking back to what has transpired. Otherwise, Marrone will likely be out of a job by year's end, and Orange Nation will have the entire offseason to ponder a team that had plenty of talent but terrible execution.