Just by looking at the Syracuse Orange's players and coaches after their game against the UConn Huskies, it was painfully obvious what had happened.
"The Syracuse coaches look like they want to die."
That was the astute observation my girlfriend made as she also lived through the agony that was the Orange's 28-21 loss to the Huskies.
This game continued to highlight the woes of a Syracuse squad that is struggling to find consistency and success against "inferior" opponents.
First the defense—five forced turnovers is an amazing feat, regardless of the opponent. Phillip Thomas continued to impress with his two interceptions, but the odd fact was that the defense otherwise looked ordinary at best. They allowed 28 points, 14 of those in the fourth quarter.
How UConn gained those points is what is even more worrisome.
UConn gained 198 yards on the ground, averaging more than three yards per carry and consistently confusing the aggressive Orange defense with option runs. Scott McCummings stole the show in the fourth quarter, making Dyshawn Davis look silly on what would be the game-winning touchdown.
Granted, the special teams and and offensive units did not give the defense much help, but the fact of the matter is that the Syracuse defense, which was able to shut down West Virginia's high-powered attack, allowed a team to literally run them into the ground for the second straight week.
But everyone knew this defense is young and would have issues all year. The savior has been the offense. Last week's performance could be credited to the tremendous defense Louisville possesses (just ask the Mountaineers), but this week was inexcusable.
Quarterback Ryan Nassib is being left on his own when it comes to making plays.
Either the offensive line missed rushers, the receivers could not get separation, or when finally open these same receivers dropped passes. Alec Lemon seemed to revert to last season's form and drop a pass that would have kept a scoring drive alive after Nassib bought time in the pocket toward the end of the first half.
Nick Provo continued to show why he should win the Mackey Award for best tight end in the country, but UConn eventually learned to double-cover and bump him at the line in order to force Nassib's throws to other players. In the fourth quarter, this led to an interception that resulted in UConn's game-winning touchdown.
While both interceptions were Nassib's fault, the rest of the offense did little to deter his reckless habits.
Antwon Bailey could not get any consistent rushing attack going, and eventually after being burned twice on the goal line, UConn learned how to stop the double-reverses of Syracuse, which were the only way Nassib could buy time or get a successful run.
Overall, the offense struggled mightily again, and this is a real concern for a unit that has looked solid all season. With the defense looking soft and bowl eligibility looking all the more elusive, head coach Doug Marrone has a short week to prepare his team for their homecoming game against South Florida in what should be a win.
However, if the Orange continue to play this poorly, Syracuse fans could be in for a painful game this Friday night.