Syracuse Orange Fall Flat Again in Loss to South Florida Bulls

Andrew PreglerContributor IIINovember 13, 2011

SU AP Database
SU AP Database

I had to wait a few days to write this due to the sheer amount of frustration I felt as a fan after this game.

The Syracuse Orange was a team that has had relatively high expectations for this season (at least high by the standards of Orange football in the last decade) and it is very close to the point where anyone could call this season a missed opportunity in program rebuilding.

South Florida was in a similar, if not worse situation coming into this game. Having not won in Big East play this season after their opening weekend win in South Bend, the Bulls hit the panic button this week and B.J. Daniels responded.

Daniels torched the Syracuse defense through the air and the ground, showing Syracuse's overall weakness against versatile quarterbacks. Daniels finished the day with 254 yards in the air and ran for another 117 to account for 75 percent of the Bulls' total offensive yards.

The unfortunate part of this for Syracuse was that the defense was the best unit on the team. The linebackers Dan Vaughn, Marquis Spurrill and Dyshawn Davis accounted for eight tackles, but were constantly out of position with South Florida's misdirection offensive game.

Phillip Thomas led all players with 10 total tacklers and was all over the field. Daniels avoided throwing near the ball hawking safety and instead preyed upon the rest of the team.

Ri'Shard Anderson tried everything to avoid Daniels' signature pass of the night, a 43-yard bomb to Andre Davis that led to South Florida score immediately after Syracuse's first score cut the lead to Bulls' lead to three.

For the rest of the night, Daniels would have no issues controlling the pace and game against the Orange defense so the offense needed to step up and play. The defense gave the offense opportunities to gain momentum back all throughout the second half.

And once again, for the third straight week, the Syracuse offense left much to be desired.

The play-calling was once again mystifying as the Orange did not attempt a pass until their eighth play of the game, and when they did Nassib looked off with his accuracy and the offensive line allowed Nassib to be sacked.

What was most frustrating was that the Orange offense, unlike in past weeks, had opportunities to make things work for them.

Twice in the fourth quarter, Syracuse was on the doorstep of the end zone with a chance to cut the Bulls' lead and twice they failed.

The first time, the Orange made it to the USF 2-yard line to open the fourth. The Bull's clogged the middle on Syracuse runs and a botched play on fourth led to Nassib pitching the ball forward to Becket Wales, who watched the ball bounce off his fingertips.

The agony would only continue for the Orange after driving down to the South Florida 17 and watching Alec Lemon inexplicably dropping a touchdown pass that looked like a Lemon was trying to play defense.

Nassib eventually stopped trying to throw the ball altogether and accounted for 45 rushing yards before his minus 15 yards of sacks were added into the equation.

A huge gripe of all fans at the game was the officiating. The officials called, or missed, blatantly wrong penalties against the Orange. On a play were Anderson fell over a Bulls receiver who had tripped, the referees called a late pass interference call that kept alive a touchdown drive.

Even worse, when Jeremiah Kobena called for a fair catch late in the third, a USF player clearly grabbed Kobena by the jersey while running passed him and the referees called no foul. If that penalty had been enforced, the Orange would have started the drive on the USF 34.

Overall, this game was the epitome of the Orange's three game Big East skid: inconsistent defense against the run, secondary issues disrupting the pass game, sputtering offense behind baffling play calling and an overall flat performance that leaves fans disheartened and ready for basketball.