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Connecticut vs. Syracuse: 10 Things We Learned from Orange's Win vs. UConn

John McGonigalCorrespondent IIJuly 4, 2016

Connecticut vs. Syracuse: 10 Things We Learned from Orange's Win vs. UConn

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    After a slow and sluggish first quarter, Syracuse broke the game open in the second half and ran away with a 30-point victory over the Connecticut Huskies.

    The connection between Ryan Nassib and Alec Lemon was absolutely on fire Friday night, accounting for 166 yards and a touchdown. 

    The Orange defense stepped up and Connecticut really didn't get in a rhythm all game. 

    Let's take a look at what we learned in Syracuse's 40-10 win over UConn. 

The Nassib-Lemon Connection Is Something to Be Feared

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    If Ryan Nassib and multi-purpose player Alec Lemon are able to keep this up throughout the remainder of the year, there's no telling what kind of school records they could break. 

    On the game, the Nassib-Lemon connection accounted for 166 receiving yards on eight receptions, including a 68-yard gain. 

    Lemon, who was originally a quarterback, showcased his athletic ability throughout the game. 

    I just felt bad for UConn's defense. 

Syracuse's Front Seven Is a Force to Be Reckoned with

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    While they didn't tally a ton of sacks, the Orange front seven were quietly dominant for most of the night. 

    Not only did they get after quarterback Chandler Whitmer, but they also stuffed Huskies' leading rusher Lyle McCombs.

    Syracuse's big boys on defense were the main reason why UConn couldn't get any true traction on offense as they upended Connecticut's running game from the get-go. 

    For the game, McCombs was disappointing (12 rushes, 16 yards) due in large part to the pressure Syracuse applied throughout the four quarters. 

    Before Friday's outing, McCombs had eclipsed 90 rushing yards in a game three times this year.  

    Not on this night. 

UConn's Defense Is Not as Good as Expected

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    Coming into the game, I had expectations for a slow, defensive slugfest, mostly due in part to UConn's defense. 

    After all, the Huskies were ranked in the top 20 nationally in points allowed (a little over 16 points per game). 

    Considering that, the Huskies' defensive showing tonight has to be a major disappointment. 

    They allowed 40 points against a Syracuse offense that averaged just under 23 points per game. 

    Not a good showing at all. 

Syracuse Has a Legitimate Running Back

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    If anybody proved they deserve to be nationally recognized, it was Syracuse running back Jerome Smith. 

    Smith simply went off against the Huskies, becoming the first Orange rusher to go over the century mark in a game this season.

    Smith's totals on the game were 19 rushes for 133 yards, including a 31-yard carry. 

    The rusher started his night off on the right foot, collecting 49 rushing yards on SU's first drive. 

Ryan Nassib Has to Stop Forcing Plays

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    While he did settle down and have a fantastic second half, Nassib didn't look like his normal self in the beginning of the game. 

    After fumbling a few times (among other things), he needs to develop composure and not get frazzled into a decision.

    When poised, Nassib is a good quarterback with a ridiculously strong arm, but he just has to play mentally sharp. 

    He did so in the second half, but the senior has to be able to come out and stay calm from begin to end. 

UConn Won't Have a Winning Record This Season

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    I know this is just one outing, but UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni stressed before the game in on-field interviews that this game was crucial for their hopes to have a "decent" season. 

    If they continue to play like this, there's no way the Huskies will have a winning record at the end of the 2012 campaign. 

    Not only did the team look bad defensively, but its offense simply did not produce against a mediocre Orange defense. 

    If this offensive display continues, in which UConn had no rhythm throughout most of the first half, the Huskies will be in for a long remainder of the season. 

Paul Pasqualoni Could Be on the Hot Seat

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    This claim might be a reach, but Pasqualoni hasn't done much for the program since taking over a good situation left by Randy Edsall.

    The former NFL offensive coordinator led the Huskies to a subpar 5-7 last year with a losing record in conference play. 

    It looks like the same may happen this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if Pasqualoni's seat started getting a little warm as the season winds down. 

Prince-Tyson Gulley Is a Reliable Second Option

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    While Jerome Smith stole the show in the backfield, Prince-Tyson Gulley provided a nice complement throughout the game that many may have overlooked. 

    Gulley, a junior, averaged 4.8 yards per carry with 38 yards on the ground against UConn. 

    Even though he never broke off an extremely long run (10 yards was his longest), Gulley provided a burst of power off the bench, breaking tackles and barreling forward for yards after contact. 

    Gulley added a touchdown to top off his night. 

Syracuse Looks Good on Special Teams

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    While I know it's just one game, Syracuse's special teams unit was one of the best I've seen in a single game all year. 

    In terms of field goals, Ross Krautman made "reliable" an understatement, drilling four field goals from as long as 47 yards and converting all four extra points. 

    Even though the Orange didn't punt too often, Jonathan Fisher had an acceptable 34 yards per punt on his three attempts. 

    SU's Ritchy Desir broke off a 33-yard punt return in the first quarter, setting up an early Syracuse score. 

Syracuse Can Still Contend in the Big East

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    After Friday night's win, Syracuse has to be feeling pretty good about itself. 

    I don't blame the Orange.

    SU should feel as though it has a legitimate chance to compete in the Big East. 

    Sitting at 2-1 in conference play, the Orange play a mediocre South Florida team next week, but has to face off against ranked opponents Cincinnati and Louisville in the following weeks. 

    But if the Nassib-Lemon connection can continue to grow and Smith can keep running the ball like he did against UConn, the Orange can compete with any team in the Big East. 

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