Syracuse Offense Needs a Spark
By Eric Moon
CitrusTV Football Reporter
Another week, another ranked opponent for Syracuse (0-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) to start the season. Following a 31-6 loss last week to then-No. 18 North Carolina (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast), the Orange try to pull off the upset this time around against No. 25 Pittsburgh (1-0, 0-0 ). Tommy DeVito and the Syracuse offense must be front and center if Syracuse comes out victorious Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.
Looking at the offensive totals from last week, it was an atrocious performance against the Tar Heels. The Orange recorded 202 yards of total offense and DeVito threw for 112 yards while completing only 42% of his passes.
With that said, DeVito wasn’t the only offensive player that struggled in game one. The offensive line had trouble protecting Devito, allowing seven sacks. SU also couldn’t get its rushing game going after Redshirt Senior Abdul Adams and Junior Jarveon Howard, the top two running backs on the Syracuse depth chart, opted out for this season. Redshirt Freshman Jawhar Jordan and Redshirt Junior Markenzy Pierre got the bulk of the carries on Saturday but combined for only 38 total yards rushing.
But playing a game at all last week was huge for the Orange because, as Head Coach Dino Babers said in his weekly press conference, it means they have a great chance to get better.
“When you get to play somebody,” Babers said. “You get a chance to look at yourself on tape, not someone else, and be able to openly receive information that you need to make yourself better.”
As for the Panthers, they cruised to a 55-0 win over FCS opponent Austin Peay State (0-2, 0-0 Ohio Valley) last week to open their season. But even with momentum following a season-opening win, Pittsburgh Head Coach Pat Narduzzi said during his weekly press conference that Syracuse might be more well-equipped for Saturday’s game.
“To their advantage, they’ve been in a war already,” Narduzzi said. “They were in a war for three quarters so they’re probably better prepared for Saturday than we are.”
Despite their offensive woes, Syracuse only trailed North Carolina by four points entering the fourth quarter in large part thanks to the SU defense that bent but didn’t break in the first three quarters. Syracuse allowed only 10 points entering the fourth quarter while giving up 319 total yards.
The defense also generated a pair of turnovers. Sophomore Linebacker Mikel Jones picked off Tar Heel Quarterback Sam Howell in the first quarter and Junior Defensive Back Andre Cisco got an interception of his own in the third quarter.
But the wheels came off in the fourth quarter. North Carolina scored three touchdowns and recorded 134 total yards of offense in the quarter as the Syracuse defense seemingly ran out of gas.
Even if SU gets another solid performance from its defense, Babers knows that the Orange offense needs to show some life on Saturday for Syracuse to get its first victory in Pittsburgh since 2001.
“They were playing extremely well and let’s give them something to play for,” said Babers. “Let’s get some points on our side of the scoreboard.”
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