SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Welcome to three-and-out. This is where I, an average high school football player turned sports journalist, give you my three thoughts on Syracuse football and their big season opening win over Ohio.
First off, man, #OrangeNation has to be feeling surprisingly good right now. I know it was only a MAC team that the Orange defeated Saturday night, but after the last two seasons you had… enjoy it.
Syracuse ended an eight-game losing streak thanks in large part to Sean Tucker and his career-high 181 yards rushing. This is obviously a wonderful place to start.
Tucker can ball
I wrote in the game recap, “On a night where #OrangeNation was closely watching what Dino Babers would do with his “two-quarterback system,” it was sophomore running back Sean Tucker that stole the show.” And I share that again, not because I want to toot my own horn (toot, toot) but because it is amazing the gem Dino Babers found in Tucker.
Criticize all you want the lack of studs the Orange have gotten via recruiting, but Sean Tucker is exactly that… a STUD!
Every time SU needed a big play Tucker was there to provide it. Whether it be his 47-yard scamper in the first quarter that set up a Tommy DeVito rushing touchdown or his 28-yard in the middle of the third quarter which led to Tucker’s scoring a few plays later, Tucker was the spark plug this offense craved.
It appears as though Tucker is indeed for real after a surprising freshman season.
Speaking of freshman, how awesome was Duce Chestnut?! The four-star recruit had a heck of a debut in orange and blue. Whenever Babers’ defense needed a big play, it was not Garrett Williams there to make the stop, though he and every other defensive player deserves credit for the win over the Bobcats, it was Chestnut.
No. 20 had five solo tackles (eight overall), one pass breakup and the interception that sealed the deal for Syracuse. The one position group that has been the staple of Babers time in the Salt City is his secondary. Whether its Andre Cisco, Iffy Melifonwu or Trill Williams, this group has created problems for opposing teams. Duce is that next problem, and maybe their next star in the defensive backfield.
What happened to that two-quarterback system?
So, the dual QB system did not really materialize Saturday night in Athens. DeVito played pretty much the entire game with Garrett Shrader only coming in for mop up duty. The newest SU QB had one pass and one rush for 16 total yards in his debut.
On the other side, DeVito did not throw for 100 yards but still managed to look solid because of his decision making and his feet. The redshirt-junior ran for 49 yards and score, while throwing for 92.
The big question is… Was any of this by design? The play calling seemed bland throughout most of the game and that could be because the Orange could get away with it against Ohio. DeVito did not throw down the field that much, and when he did, he was a little off target. But as they say, “no harm, no foul.”
A huge step up in competition is coming for Syracuse next week when they host Rutgers Saturday. You might be like, “Rutgers, a step up?” And my answer would be, yes. After scoring 61 points against Temple in week 1, the Scarlet Knights might have figured some things out too.
As I have written in the past, the offensive line play has been something of sticking point for the ‘Cuse. To call it bad is a big of an understatement. But Saturday night against Ohio, the big uglies played well. They racked up 283 yards on the ground and only managed one sack allowed. Now, SU did not throw that much, and when they went with an empty formation, some of the same deficiencies were exposed.
But this week is not a time to nit-pick, it is a time for fans to feel good about their win, because after the last two seasons, there is plenty of time left for complaining.