My motto for Syracuse football, #WhyNotCuse, is in full steam ahead mode as the Orange defeated the Liberty Flames 24-21. I said before the season that Syracuse football could be on the cusp of a special season and when they stumbled against Rutgers, many were jumping off the ledge proclaiming this was just another crappy season ahead.
My position was to be patient, step back from that ledge my friend and see what lies ahead in the next few games before judging too much into it. I decided to go into full-blown Bluto from Animal House “Was it over when the German’s bombed Pearl Harbor?” mode and not give up just yet but charge full steam ahead even if I was sometimes frustrated.
I am NOT an “I told you so” kind of guy for the most part and there is still the entire ACC conference portion of the schedule left but I am still standing here saying anything is possible, including a memorable run towards the 2021 Subway ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, NC, on ABC December 4th in primetime at 8 pm. I am hyped and ready to go and there is only one thing left to do my fellow Orange fans…win the whole darn thing.
So let’s look at the reasons why Syracuse football not only beat Liberty but also in my opinion proved on Friday night what I have been saying all along and that is that this team has the potential to be memorable and make at the very least a quality bowl game run, if not the ACC title game and the world will be ours.
Syracuse football put forth a strong performance in knocking off Liberty.
- The Tucker Tracker stat line was fairly impressive. He had 31 rushes for 168 yards and a touchdown in the game. Tucker is also the 14th player in program history with 6 or more 100-yd rushing performances and he’s done it in his first 13 games (credit the SU Football Twitter account). And according to the ACC Football Twitter account, through 4 games he has 710 yards from scrimmage & 8 TDs. If you are against restoring 44, I may vehemently disagree but I respect your opinion however if you tell me it is because Sean Tucker doesn’t deserve it, my only response is that you are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
- Andre Szmyt is clutch! When he missed that 52-yard field goal, my son started to lose faith. I reminded him that 52 yards is not a guarantee for everyone including the program leader in most field goals made but to have faith. Sure enough, the game was won when he kicked the game-winning 35-yard field goal with one second left in the game. By the way, if you are looking for a play that last year may have gone the wrong way but this year could be a difference, this is it. Last year that was likely blocked or a bad snap or missed but this reminded me of the 10-win season in that when things are going right, you take advantage of it, leave with the win and end up with the win versus a loss.
- Otto’s Army showed up and showed out for the White Out and I loved it. In the past, there were games where the student sections were less than stellar and last year, fans were not allowed in whatsoever but so far this season, the student section has been impressive and I love it, especially on a Friday night when they could have been in Bird Library studying (because we all know that is what college students do on Friday nights). Thank you to Otto’s Army and the student section for your support so far this season and I look forward to seeing you all in person when I can finally go see my first game this season against Clemson.
- And before I go on with more player and game notes, how about that very cool light display they have now at the Carrier Dome…Carrier Stadium…THE Stadium…whatever it is called anymore? A longtime staple in the Syracuse program, Syracuse University Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer Pete Sala, even at one point was on TV holding a walkie-talkie and gave the go-ahead to show off the exterior lights changing to blue and orange.
- Garrett Shrader, a transfer from Mississippi State, got the start against Liberty and proved exactly what most of us knew, he can be a threat to run and be effective at any time. Against Liberty, his passes were not always accurate but hopefully as he gets into more of a rhythm, that will improve. I am no expert at this by any means but from what I know of football and the quarterback position, it is not just being an accurate passer but getting down the timing on the receivers and how they run their routes. He was also the victim of many high snaps that seemed to have thrown off the timing of several plays so hopefully if this is the path forward, that can be improved upon as well.
- Many experts before this season started pointed towards the lack of success for the Syracuse football program in the red zone but against Liberty, they looked to be very successful in that regard. I do think it helps when you not only rely on Sean Tucker and the defense knows it, but also now you have a more mobile quarterback and Abdul Adams as well showing he can make plays. The more threats you have, the more the defense has to prepare for and can’t just lock in on one player. Heck, we have even seen that Tucker can be a receiving threat as well.
- So in most of my recaps, I seem to concentrate a lot on Sean Tucker and the defense and today is nothing different. How about that defense against an NFL-caliber quarterback? Mikel Jones was the “leader of the pack” again leading this defense to 8 tackles and a sack. And how about my man Cody Roscoe, the riveting quarterback hunter who followed up his 3 sack performance against Albany with 6 tackles, 2 sacks himself and even a forced fumble. If they can have a performance like this against Malik Willis and a team that was just short of the top 25 polls, I believe they can be effective against anyone.
- And I will end my review of this game with the celebration that the Syracuse Orange football team had after the game in the locker room, likely as a response to when Liberty won last season in the Dome and did a similar celebration. So if you like Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, I present to you a very happy Syracuse football program that is about one win shy of where most sportsbooks had them for the over/under of wins this entire season.