Well so much for that.
The kool-aid has been returned to the refrigerator. An offseason of optimistic hopes faded in watching the 2008 edition of the Syracuse Orange take the field against Northwestern. If the Orange was going to make a run at a bowl appearance this season, the opener against Northwestern was going to be important game. Well the Orange showed it is not bowl ready. Now comes the real question. Just how much from this game can be taken as a barometer for the rest of the season?
In the pregame write up there were 5 things I didn’t want to see:
5) Any quick kicks on 3rd down – check
4) Corner backs playing 15 yards off the ball – I give this a check as well, although with the spread you really cannot afford to be too far off of the receiver. Overall I liked the coverage schemes.
3) 3 or more sacks allowed – well we gave up 2 and it was mostly a biproduct of the 3 step drop
4) CJ Bacher having all day to throw. Well 1 sack and 3TDs and getting 10 different players involved in receptions means we didn’t do a much to deter Bacher.
5) No hideous march onto the field – check.
Hey that’s 4 out of 5, so why were we so dismal?
The answer could fill a book, but the long and short of the problem could be filled with about 2 statements.
1) The no huddle completely wore down the defense. It was apparent early that Northwestern was going to have their way with the defense. While it was admirably that they allowed only 23 points, it was clear that NU could do what they wanted when they wanted.
2) SU lost terribly the battle for field position. The Cuse spent the day unside their own 10 3 times and inside the 20 3 other times, just in the first half alone. This put alot of pressure on the arm of Andrew Robinson and the offensive line and it was clear that neither were up to the challenge.
1) From a first half perspective only, the rushing attack seems to be improved. All 3 of Brinkley, Hogue and Carter were able to bust runs in excess of 10 yards. The Orange matched their 2007 season average after the first quarter. It was clear that the scripted play calling was successful. After that???
2) Penalties. Only 5 which I took as very good. One of them, the 15 yarder on McKenzie for a chop block was BS. Overall a good job there.
3) We won the turnover battle despite ESPN’s Pam Ward and their crack graphics displayed late in the game. AJ Brown’s int squelched a sure scoring drive in the first quarter and Jared Kimmel’s strip of Sutton helped put the Cuse in the lead in at the start of the 3rd Quarter.
1) Where were the down field throws? I don’t think the Cuse went down the field until there was under 6 minutes left in the game. As a result, the NU defense was allowed to get closer and closer to the line of scrimmage. The result – 68 total yards in the second half and a predictable interception. Note to Browning – is there a pump fake in that 3 step drop playbook?
2) The RB rotation. It looked like GRob went developmental league on us with the rotation of Brinkley, Hogue and Carter. Brinkley starts because of seniority? Carter comes in cold to start the 2nd quarter standing in his own end zone and predictably fumbles. I saw Hogue run more sweeps than smashing between the tackles where you’d think his size would give him more of an advantage. I wasn’t happy with the personnel decisions at RB. Someone has to get 2/3rds of the carries and the other two will have to split what’s left. Note to GRob – your job is on the line. Start coaching like it.
3) Mike Mele – part of the blown coverage that created Northwestern’s first TD, was run through on a couple of occasions. Not his best game. The overall LB core needed to play better and he was the worst of the group.
4) The dropsies were back. Lobdell and Davis started well on the first drive, but each had some regrettable drops. This does not give ARob any confidence and likely caused him to overthink a few throws, especially in the 2nd half. Marcus Sales did look decent in his first game as a collegian.
1) I have to put Andrew Robinson here. He was off target all day. For a guy with a full year under his belt, his performance was very discouraging
2) Tackling. Part of the problem with the defense was the total lack of commitment to tackling. Numerous arm tackles put NU in short yardage situations all day, allowing them to do all sorts of things and really get their no huddle into high gear.
3) Corey Chavers did not have a good game. Missed several run block assignments, matadored Wooten much of the game, allowing the pressure that brought the safety. It just wasn’t a good game for the senior who will now be pressed by Jonathan Meldrum for playing time.
The GRob Hot seat meter:
Africa Hot. A few more games like this and AD Darryl Gross will have more than two cell phones crammed in his ear.
Around the BE:
Well we aren’t the only team in the Big East that is in big trouble. 25th ranked (well not now anyway) Pittsburgh rolled over in its opener to Bowling Green. Louisville scored a whopping 2 points in its crudge match opener with Kentucky. Both teams played at home and both teams coaches are probably on the hot seat as well.
On the winning side, Cincinnati looked good with Grutza in command. Pat White and WV threw the ball way more than it ran it. A sign that they may be trying to save White some wear and tear early. UConn ran all over Hofstra as expected and USF rolled in its opener.
Rutgers will try and salvage what can only be described as an overall dismal performance by the Big East in Week One as it faces Fresno St today.