Its good! No it’s not…
Regardless of any extra point controversy, Syracuse is 3-1 and as much as Toledo wants to try to change that, Syracuse is halfway qualified to a bowl game and can start off Big East play with a statement win.
While the Toledo game showed major improvement in some areas, other parts of the team seemed to struggle.
Ultimately, Syracuse has some time before teams like West Virginia and USF show up on the schedule and demand a consistent 60-minute battle.
The Rockets and Eric Page did not go quietly, but Syracuse got the win, thanks in part to a huge game from...
Syracuse finally got back to playing its brand of football.
Doug Marrone was probably a little uneasy with the reliance on Nassib to run the offense (not that he doesn’t do it well, he was named to the Big East honor roll again).
Marrone likes to keep things balanced and with huge games from Antwon Bailey and Prince Tyson Gulley (at least compared to other games this season) Syracuse was able to dictate the flow even after Toledo’s passing attack seemed to be in control.
While Syracuse did not dominate or even win the battle on offense statistically, Syracuse was not struggling to move the ball as they had been in the past.
Moving forward, Syracuse needs to continue to move the ball effectively, as other teams won’t be as kind as Toledo, Wake Forrest and Rhode Island and who allowed them to catch up.
The secondary struggles for this game were different than in other games this season.
Syracuse was playing without safety Shamarko Thomas, which left linebackers Marquis Spuril and Dyshawn Davis trying to cover over the middle against receivers who knew to use angles and speed to their advantage.
Toledo came out and targeted Syracuse where they were most vulnerable and threw 45 times. With that in mind, after getting torched by USC, Syracuse came ready to shut down any deep threat.
Toledo continually ran screens to inch the ball downfield which helped pad the stats.
The individual performances of Thomas and Scott saved Syracuse from losing.
Scott’s interception was the product of perfect positioning and all day, Syracuse shut down long passes from Toledo.
Thomas played lights out, finishing with 10 tackles, a fourth down stop, and shut down Eric Page late in the game. Thomas did not budge and got under Page’s skin as well as playing the part of Troy Polamalu when needed.
If the Safeties Thomas (not catchy enough?) can stay healthy along with semi-consistent corner play, Syracuse’s secondary is not as bad as off as it seems.
Syracuse’s defensive line did not play their best this past Saturday.
They were effective at shutting down the run at times, but Toledo’s spread offense really made the group look bad on options.
Even worse, though, was pass rush.
They looked sluggish and late of the snap on many a play. That may be just as much a product of Toledo’s style as the absence of Chandler Jones.
However, Pitt, WVU and USF all employ this look (Pitt and WVU especially) and if Syracuse can’t get pressure on a quarterback in the spread attack, defeating these Big East contenders will be near impossible.
Chandler Jones alone won’t solve these problems; it is going to take collective improvements as Torrey Ball seems to be the only consistent player on the line.
I am not one to criticize officiating after games as my feelings have always believed that the better team will make their own luck and breaks.
That being said, the officiating on the PAT was dreadful.
The view from the Student section, both behind the goal posts and from the sideline showed a PAT hooking outside the goal post.
I understand that there was no way for the Big East official reviewing the play to get a conclusive view from the side view, but what is scary is the fact that there was no other view. How can anyone expect a referee upon further review to make a conclusive judgment on a kick when the view is anything but what ESPN used in their highlights, only making the blown call look worse.
I understand Toledo’s frustration but unfortunately for them, vacating a win on the premise that the game would have ended the same in the final 2 minutes is preposterous and sets a horrible precedent.
Sorry Toledo, we are stealing this win from you and fully understand if you turn down the Big East invite in the mail.
Speaking of the Big East, next up are those guys from Rutgers. To defeat Rutgers, it’s as simple as four downs.
If you haven’t been watching Rutgers football, then let me tell you all you need to know: Mohamed Sanu carries the offense, Rutgers knows it, opponents know it, and yet he is still effective.
He is 16 catches for 176 yards and two TDs last week against Ohio effective.
Rutgers was incredibly efficient on third down, converting 61 percent of their attempts against an Ohio defense that was only allowing opponents to convert 33 percent.
Sanu will be the target early, often and whenever Rutgers needs yardage. Phillip Thomas will have to play another physical game and never let Sanu feel comfortable.
If Shamarko is able to return this week, the secondary will be much more equipped for this difficult task.
Nassib has played like he is deserving of All-Big East honors and he has another opportunity to make his case.
This week, it is more than likely he will be successful. Rutgers has one of the best rush defenses in the NCAA and Syracuse has not run the ball well before last week (as mentioned earlier).
While Marrone may want to establish the run early, it will be much more advantageous if Syracuse comes out firing against the 85th best pass defense in the NCAA.
Van Chew, Alec Lemon and Nick Provo all had good games against Toledo. There is no reason why this should not continue. With Rutgers focusing in on Chew and Lemon coming on in recent weeks, my sleeper of the game pick goes to Dorian Graham who is slowly being integrated into the Orange air attack.
Rutgers cannot run the ball.
They are only slightly better than the Orange in this department, meaning that the best course of defensive attack is to make sure Chas Dodd is never comfortable or on his back.
With Marrone keeping the media away from the practice fields this week, there have been no reports on the health of Chandler Jones, who suited up last week but never had his helmet on.
As mentioned earlier, the defensive line has been inconsistent, but if Shamarko Thomas returns, Dyshawn Davis and Marquis Spurill will be free to stop protecting the middle of the field down after down and can be used in blitz packages.
If by some miracle Syracuse is healthy going into this game, there is a very good chance the defense could start returning to last year’s form.
All right so I have a theory: Otto the Orange is a pretty awesome mascot and the face of Syracuse sports.
Syracuse lost to an equally as important and iconic mascot in the USC Trojan.
This week, Otto squares off against a Scarlet Knight. Not too bad of a mascot, kind of like a Trojan right?
If you have seen the Rutgers mascot you know that like everything else at Rutgers, they missed the mark on this one. #BeatRutgers