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Syracuse Football: Costly turnovers and penalties, poor offense in 1st loss

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Syracuse football undefeated record so far in the 2023 season came to a halt on Saturday afternoon inside the JMA Wireless Dome on homecoming weekend.

Clemson (3-2) clamped down on a sluggish Orange offense, and the Tigers did a great job of converting ‘Cuse miscues into points, with Clemson securing a 31-14 victory on the Hill.

The Orange falls to 4-1 in the current term, and Syracuse football has another challenging game coming up, as the ‘Cuse will travel to No. 15 North Carolina next Saturday afternoon.

Coming into this game, the first for Syracuse football in Atlantic Coast Conference play, the Orange had gone 4-0 in its non-conference docket, while the Tigers were reeling a bit at 2-2. However, Clemson is still an extremely talented team, and its two setbacks were at top-20 Duke and to top-five Florida State at home by seven points in overtime.

That’s why odds-makers had the Tigers as the betting favorite in their conference clash with the ‘Cuse, despite the Orange being 4-0 and Clemson being 2-2. While the Syracuse football 2023 campaign is far from over, the team put forth a disappointing performance on Saturday afternoon against its toughest foe to date this season.

Syracuse football fell for the first time, to Clemson, on Saturday afternoon.

To date in 2023, the Orange had proven to possess one of the most prolific offenses around the country, but the ‘Cuse had also faced Colgate, Western Michigan, Purdue on the road, and Army.

Clemson, regardless of its record, was in a different class from the Orange’s first four opponents. Against the Tigers, the ‘Cuse could only muster 286 total yards on offense, per ESPN statistics, after averaging 507.8 yards per contest up to this point, good for No. 9 nationwide.

Conversely, prior to this match-up, the Syracuse football Mob defense was allowing just 274.2 total yards per game but allowed 389 combined yards to Clemson.

In the turnover department, leading up to Saturday’s affair, the Orange was tied for No. 9 overall with a turnover margin of +1.25 per game. But in the Clemson contest, Syracuse football lost in this category, 3-1. The Orange had two fumbles and an interception, and the Tigers converted those mistakes into points.

While there were some questionable calls in this game by the officiating crew, Syracuse football did itself no favors, committing nine penalties for 92 yards, and some of those penalties came at really inopportune times.

A potent ‘Cuse rushing attack that was top 20 in the country, averaging 213.2 rushing yards per contest, could only produce 100 yards on the ground versus Clemson, and along with that, a paltry 2.9 rushing yards per carry.

Senior quarterback Garrett Shrader, who had been really solid so far in the 2023 season, struggled. He took a big shot on the Orange’s first offensive series and fumbled. Later in the game, he threw an interception.

Shrader just looked off on Saturday afternoon. He was missing receivers long and near the sidelines with too much frequency. In total, Shrader connected on just 15-of-29 of his pass attempts.

The ‘Cuse defense was put in a tough spot with the team’s offense so stagnant. That being said, Orange defenders did have several chances to make key interceptions but couldn’t seal the deal.

One decision that frustrated me occurred late in the second quarter. Syracuse football trailed Clemson, 14-7, and the Orange elected to attempt a 57-yard field goal, rather than punt the ball. Sophomore placekicker Brady Denaburg was short in his try, the Tigers had a short field, and they ended up scoring on a long throw to move ahead, 21-7.

One small bright spot was redshirt sophomore tight end Dan Villari. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Villari, a former Michigan quarterback who hails from Massapequa, N.Y., caught two passes for 65 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception and another 37-yard grab.

Next. Syracuse Football: ‘Cuse 4-star commits, recruit generating ridiculous stats. dark