Syracuse: Why This Opening Win Shows an Upswing for the Orange Under Marrone
They say it is never over until the fat lady sings.
In this case, the fat lady, or rather portly referee, ended a roller coaster of an opener by waving off the potential pass interference call on fourth down in overtime when Chris Givens laid his body to save the Demon Deacons of Wake Forrest.
But that's getting too far ahead in an epic game that speaks volumes about the new look Orange. The half time stat line left me wondering if I had come to Syracuse at the unthinkable point where Doug Marrone became Greg Robinson.
Nine total rushing yards. Wake Forrest dominating time of possession with over twenty minutes of possession time. Syracuse looked lucky to only trail 20-7.
Syracuse looked miserable outside of special teams during that first half. The running game was inconsistent and Ryan Nassib couldn't try any harder to hit his receivers in the hands... that is when he was not running from pressure. Offensively, the line struggled mightily and it left the rest of the offense scurrying for help.
Defensively, Syracuse's unit was on the field far too long. Wake Forrest effectively utilized the Pistol to not only spread the Orange defensive, but to roll out on passes, runs, and screens forcing a more passive approach, mitigating any kind of pass rush.
Now in the old Robinson days, fans would have left the stadium knowing there was no hope for a Syracuse comeback. Upon coming out in the second half, the deficit grew even larger, climbing to 29-15, leaving even the most optimistic of fans (me among them) proclaiming the night over.
Will Syracuse win the Big East?
However, Doug Marrone has inspired these young men to play with heart and passion. As cliche as it sounds in football, that is what is needed from an up and coming program like Syracuse. Marrone has his players going hard until the final whistle knowing that all can end well.
And that is what happened.
Nassib may have only finished with 178 yards, but his accuracy in the second half kept the Orange drives moving and wearing away at the Demon Deacons.
Antwon Bailey may have been stuffed early, but a 53 yard run to the outside while tip-toeing and balancing the sideline on a seemingly broken play made all the difference for the Orange's efforts.
And Kevyn Scott interception may have only resulted in a blocked field goal attempt, but it showed the general frustration the defense caused backup quarterback Ted Stachitas after Tanner Price was brutally smashed between two Orange linemen in the second half.
And the hero of the night, Van Chew, did his best Santonio Holmes impersonation not once, but twice as he toe tapped his way for the game tying two point conversion and contorted his body and hands to cradle the ball in the front corner of the endzone in overtime.
All in all, watching the Carrier Dome buzz at the beginning, die during the middle, and grow it's loudest when only the most devoted of fans stuck around shows a lot about Marrone's program.
Was Wake Forrest the best of opponents? No, but they posed a great opening week threat with their veteran experience and nothing to lose mentality.
But these young men have heart. They have guts. They won't give up just because a scoreboard and experts say they had a fluke season. Will Syracuse win the Big East? A defending champion UConn, a new born Pitt and dangerously fast West Virginia all say otherwise.
But will Syracuse go down quietly? If tonight is any indication, they most certainly will not.
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