Syracuse Football: Orange defense extinguishes Liberty’s flame

Syracuse football got the job done in Week 1 vs the Liberty Flames. Here’s how the defense stepped up to the plate and all the highlights from the win.

If you just took a peek at the final score, you may be satisfied as a Syracuse football fan after Week 1.

The Orange won, which is always good regardless of the circumstances. Plus on the other hand, they also covered the spread (which was between 17 and 19.5 points throughout the last two weeks).

Syracuse came away with a 24-0 victory, despite the shutout, it was far from a perfect victory.

Tommy DeVito made his much-anticipated debut (first career college start) and showed flashes of brilliance, but mostly looked very green vs the Flames.

He only completed 50 percent of his passes (17-of-35), threw two interceptions, and simply was too much of a gunslinger out there.

Where the offense lacked, the Syracuse defense made up for it.

Dino Babers said that the defense would be the strength of the Orange in 2019 and it certainly looked that way in Week 1:

  • The Orange held Liberty to -4 yards rushing.
  • Forced four turnovers.
  • While also finishing the game with eight sacks which created over -51 yards of reverse-offense.

A lot of pundits questioned some of the ballooned stats from 2018 and wondered whether Syracuse could continue those trends. Well if Week 1 was any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.

The Orange have incredible depth at a variety of positions defensively including the secondary which really forced the Flames into issues all day.

Although one area and maybe the only area that Liberty had success in was getting the ball to their future NFL star, Antonio Gandy-Golden.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound superstar hailing from Dallas, Texas bamboozled the Orange secondary in the first half.

Antonio registered five receptions for 115 yards which included his longest play of the day a 56-yarder that brought the Flames to the doorstep of the endzone.

The Orange defense made the proper adjustments at halftime, Antonio only had one reception for four yards in the second half.

At the end of the day, a win is a win. This lackluster performance was a combination of a few key factors:

  • First-game jitters.
    • For all the hoopla about the Orange, they have a lot of new pieces being shuffled around including their new starting quarterback.
  • Liberty was an unknown.
    • Remember the Flames have never hosted a power-five nor top-25 opponent in their own building. Hugh Freeze is a first-year head coach with this program. Syracuse prepared for this game with an educated guessing system. Dino Babers said the team studied old Liberty tape, Hugh Freeze Ole Miss tape, and put it all together to try and guess what this team was going to do in the season opener.
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So long story short, was this game exactly what Syracuse fans were hoping for? No, but at the end of the day Syracuse came out relatively healthy, won the game, covered the spread, and will move on to a Week 2 consecutive road matchup vs Maryland.


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