I’m starting to sound like a broken record.
Syracuse struggled on special teams along with making silly mistakes in a tough loss at Rutgers yesterday. The Scarlet Knights remain undefeated, making plays throughout the afternoon to doom the Orange.
The game really changed in the third quarter when an Orange go ahead field goal was blocked and taken the other way for a touchdown by Rutgers. The blocked punt was a big play to go along with four turnovers for Syracuse on the day, and it put the Orange in a hole that they were never able to recover from.
While one of the Ryan Nassib interceptions occurred when Syracuse was in desperation mode in the fourth quarter, and a fumble on a punt which the runner was very clearly down and was stripped late, the Orange still turned the ball over twice to Rutgers 0. Syracuse has lost the turnover statistic in every loss this season, and is a problem that is continually haunting this football team.
Another absolute killer for Syracuse has been inside the red zone this season. The Orange nearly doubled the offense of Rutgers, but failed to put anything together inside the 20 aside from one drive in the first half. Syracuse had first and goal on the three yard line and didn’t score. Syracuse attempted to pass plays on first and second down before finally trying to run the ball on third and goal, where the Orange were stuffed. On fourth down, a dropped Alec Lemon pass in the end zone ended the drive in frustration.
On the play calling, Doug Marrone took explained after the game the sequence that appeared to make no sense whatsoever:
“I was looking to score fast,” Marrone said of the passes to Sales.
The Ameen-Moore run out of the tank, which had worked for a second-quarter TD, wasn’t the right call on third down, Marrone said.
“That was an awful call by me, an awful call,” he said.
It was the fifth offensive failure inside an opponents’ 10-yard line in the last four games for the Orange. Four of those possessions were first downs inside the opponents’ 5.
This is an absolutely crushing loss, as the Orange must now go 4-2 down the stretch with games against an SEC team Missouri and arguably the best teams in the conference in Louisville and Cincinnati in order to make a bowl game. It is clear that Syracuse absolutely must defeat Connecticut this Friday night in the Dome if they even want to consider postseason play this year.
From a fan perspective, this was just more of the same. The talent level is there to win football game, but constant fumbles and bad plays are crushing this team. While many people want to point the finger at Marrone, he can’t hold the ball for his players, nor can he catch the ball for his receivers. His play calling at the goal line in the fourth quarter was absolutely atrocious in my opinion, but that still was a sequence that involved dropped passes in the end zone that should have resulted in a touchdown.
Marrone takes sole responsibility after every loss, but for games like these I just don’t see how the blame can be placed on him. Unless he isn’t addressing not turning the ball over (and you are out of your mind if you think he doesn’t), what else can he do beside put the team in position to win? At some point players have to make plays, so regardless of what Marrone says responsibility needs to fall on receivers dropping balls and silly turnovers by veteran players and not the coaching.