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Sunday, Oct 27, 2019 at 1:52 am

Florida State Dominates Syracuse on Both Sides of the Ball

By Nicole Weaving

CitrusTV Football Reporter

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Syracuse offensive line has been an issue all season as the Orange are the worst team in the nation in sacks allowed. Their struggles continued against Florida State as the Seminoles’ defensive line tallied a season-high seven sacks.

The lack of offensive production, starting with the O-line, led to Syracuse (3-5, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) falling to Florida State (4-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) 35-17 on Saturday.

The SU offensive line faced an added challenge even before stepping on the field at Doak Campbell Stadium. Right tackle Ryan Alexander didn’t travel to Florida State, leaving the football program entirely.

“He didn’t come talk to me, and I haven’t spoken to him,” said SU head coach Dino Babers.

Alexander’s departure caused a lack of cohesion for Syracuse’s offensive line, which showed early in the contest. FSU sacked quarterback Tommy DeVito twice during SU’s opening drive, totaling four sacks by the end of the first quarter.

The Orange also couldn’t get their run game going with the Seminoles’ defensive line collapsing on the running backs too quickly. SU had just 52 rushing yards through the first 30 minutes.

Syracuse showed some improvement in the second half as the offensive line got more comfortable. The Orange added 140 yards on the ground through the final two quarters.

“They were dropping more, trying to prevent the pass, so we took advantage of that,” said DeVito. “Our running backs did an awesome job. Our offensive line stepped up, had a big role in it. And we started to move the ball that way.”

The Orange’s second half provided hope to Babers, who felt positive about the growth his O-line showed in making these adjustments.

“I thought that the offensive line did a better job. I really do,” Babers said. “I thought that there was some fighting going on as far as trying to move guys out of the way. As far as what I saw out on the field based on what I have been seeing, there was some growth; we can build on that.”

Freshman Matthew Bergeron stepped up to fill the void at right tackle. Babers gave him the start because of the potential he has shown in practice.

“He’s a fighter,” Babers said. “He’s a lot older than a normal freshman, coming from Canada, so he’s got a little more physical maturity than some of the other younger guys.”

Quarterback Tommy DeVito believed Bergeron was prepared for the tough task on such short note, thanks to his fellow offensive linemen.

“I think the guys responded well as far as next man up, making sure Matthew Bergeron was gonna be ready for the game and trying to help him mentally because he is a freshman,” said DeVito. “That’s a big stage for his first game, Florida State away, so mentally just trying to get him prepared for this game was big, and I thought the team rallied behind him.”

Syracuse will continue searching for their first ACC win when Boston College visits the Salt City on Saturday at noon. With the Orange only two losses away from losing an automatic bowl bid, the O-line must find solutions to their problems soon if they hope to salvage this season.

nlweavin@syr.edu | @nicki_weaves