Syracuse football struggled offensively in game one of the 2020 season. Here’s where they went wrong and how to fix it heading into Pitt.
Syracuse football lost their first contest of the season to North Carolina, 31-6. The Orange had multiple chances in the first half to either take the lead or counter the Tar Heels. However, too many more times not taking advantage won’t fly against a top-20 team in the nation. Quarterback Sam Howell eventually got his guys grounded and UNC never looked back.
Howell finished the game with two picks, but was relatively accurate otherwise, completing 25 passes out of 34 attempts for 295 yards and a touchdown. He got help out of the running game, with Michael Carter going for 78 yards and Javonte Williams rushing for 54 and three scores.
Tommy DeVito struggled to throw the ball for the ‘Cuse, finishing 13-of-31 for a dismal 112 yards. He led the team in rushing with 30 yards, as Jahwar Jordan was held to just 26 yards on the ground. That could be a pattern this season have first and second string RBs Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard opted out of the season.
The 31 points may seem like a lot, but the defense really wasn’t the problem. The offense kept putting them in bad positions, but two interceptions and six tackles for loss helped to keep them in the game through the first three quarters. It would be asking a lot for Syracuse football to rely solely on defense, but after the offense’s performance in game one, that may be the only option if the Orange want to win a few games this year.
As far as my StatPack from the UNC game, Syracuse went a dismal 0-for-3 and wasn’t even relatively close.
Defensively, I said the Orange would need to apply pressure on Sam Howell and force at least four sacks. They sacked Howell twice and picked him off twice, but he settled in during crunch time. Perhaps two more sacks in the fourth quarter would have made a different ball game, but that wasn’t the only problem.
On offense, I said DeVito would need 300 yards passing. I’m no mathematician, but 300 and his total of 112 aren’t really that close. And as for my calling of 35 points? The Orange were 29 points short. Ouch.
Did I believe all of these would happen? Absolutely not. I predicted a loss in our first ITLH game prediction of the season. However, I was surprised at how rusty DeVito looked and that the offense, under an offensive mastermind in Dino Babers, couldn’t even come close to putting anything together.
Will Syracuse turn it around against Pitt? Stay tuned for my second StatPack checklist of the season.