Doug Marrone said it best after Syracuse’s 19-16 double-overtime loss to Rutgers.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the loss," Marrone said in his post-game remarks, according to CNYcentral.com. "I think it’s very difficult to win football games when you have five turnovers, and a field goal gets blocked and a PAT gets blocked. Those things happen, and we lost that game because of those errors, and we weren’t able to capitalize at times.”
What was perhaps most frustrating was that Syracuse’s defense came ready to play, holding Rutgers to a mere five yards rushing and only 302 total yards. (Keep in mind, Rutgers had the ball for over 36 minutes and averaged over 325 yards per game going into the game.)
After weeks of scrutiny and criticism, players like Phillip Thomas played smart aggressive football as a result of Marrone’s intense preparation for the game.
“We knew coming out to the game that it was going to be a tough, physical game. We know Rutgers; we just came out here and played really hard," Thomas said after the game, according to suathletics.syr.edu.
Unfortunately for Thomas, his dropped interception that probably would have iced the game is what he and many fans will remember most. He said, “I look back on it, and I wish I would have taken advantage of the opportunity, though, so we wouldn’t be in this situation."
However, Syracuse was not lacking explosive plays. Dyshawn Davis introduced himself to Rutgers with a hit that electrified the Dome. Davis’ forced fumble resulted in a Ri’Shard Anderson fumble recovery for a touchdown, the first one for the Orange since 2006.
Unfortunately for Davis, Thomas, Anderson and the rest of the defense, it was the offense that struggled. First and foremost, Syracuse played uncharacteristically sloppy, committing five turnovers, which in Marrone’s eyes, was only the tip of the iceberg.
“We are not good enough to overcome those turnovers, and we had five, which is unacceptable. It is actually more than five, because we had the blocked PAT and a blocked field goal. When you have the ability to score points and you don’t execute, it is like a turnover," Marrone said.
Missed opportunities was the main reason for Syracuse’s loss.
Ryan Nassib was struggling all day with a heavy pass rush and a receiving core that could not get separation. Nassib passed for a season low 164 yards and had two interceptions that ended legitimate scoring chances. The first was a fluke tip in the end zone that was not entirely his fault, while the second was on a fourth-and-ten, when the red-shirt junior forced the ball into coverage as the pocket collapsed.
Fans and Coach Marrone both know that Nassib has had a tremendous season to date and was just caught in the middle of a stingy Rutgers defense.
“I think, at times, he did a nice job managing the game," Marrone said. "They came with some four-wide pressure. We knew they were going to pressure us, though. Then they played cover-two, and it was a chess game going back and forth. I thought Ryan did a good job."
Overall, this game stings. Not just because Syracuse lost to Rutgers, but because it seemed as if Syracuse could win the game even when they played atrocious football.
Syracuse is a much better team than what we saw this past Saturday. Tulane will be a nice game to regroup and settle down before Syracuse goes into a must-win stretch of Big East games, if they want to stay competitive and bowl eligible.
Coach Marrone knows it too, saying, “We lost a football game, and they’re a good football team. I told our kids that they played hard; they didn’t execute well. We have to hold our head up even though we’re upset and disappointed in ourselves."
"When you lose football games, you have to come back and practice extremely hard and get ready to get back on the right path after we make the corrections," he said.
NOTE: Marrone also revealed the extent of the injuries that resulted in closed off practices all week.
“Obviously, (sophomore running back) Prince Tyson Gulley has a collar bone injury that we found out about this week. It was a bad injury that he had to get operated on," he said.
"(Senior quarterback) Ryan Nassib’s hand was bothering him. (Redshirt senior wide receiver) Nick Provo had a shoulder injury. We even got some players back this week that I was excited about and they re-injured themselves," Marrone said.
Neither safety Shamarko Thomas nor Chandler Jones played in Saturday’s loss.