This needs to be fast. We have year end going on at work right now.
Drove down. GPS had me take the Palisades from Bear Mountain/Route 6 to the GW Bridge (took 17/I86 before that). Little traffic, worked well.
First time driving into the city for football. Parked at a shady garage a couple of blocks from the stadium. Attendant didn't speak much english. Had to give him my keys. It worked out but I like to park my car myself. Won't do that again.
The gates were supposed to open at noon. They did not. Heard it was moved to 12:30. They opened a couple of minutes after that (for the suites gate anyway).
The Delta Suite was nice. Lots of places to sit, some TVs, pretty roomy. Just having a heated area was nice. Relatively short lines for getting drinks and food. I think they had 3 or 4 bars in there, so they were well prepared for Syracuse. The bathrooms were nice too and the lines were not long there either. You could watch from inside through the windows or on the TVs or sit in your assigned seats outside. We being CNY tough guys, sat outside. I am sure Yankee Stadium is great for watching baseball but it is bad to watch football there. Hard to find down and distance. Almost no mention of stats on any scoreboard. Hard to even find the score. The people who were asked to update the down and distance were really bad at it and the info on the scoreboard was wrong about 50% of the time. The cameramen had their camera jerk away from the action regularly and it was hard to find out what happened on replays too often. And never thought I would ever type this, but the big replay scoreboard behind center field was grainy and had a lot of spots with lights out. Then there is the awful layout for football and the bizarre PA announcers (there appeared to be two working independently of each other). It is painfully obvious they have baseball people trying to do football games and they have little idea how to do it. IMHO, they should hire the crew that does SU games to come down and run things in the future.
I was surprised at how many more Syracuse fans there were compared to Minnesota fans. One side of the stadium had SU fans and the other UM fans. Guessing we had at least twice as many as they did. The Minnesota fans I talked to were all nice. They told me 'we thought we were going to have a lot more fans than Syracuse. Up until today, we had a lot more people walking about New York'. I laughed and told them most of the Syracuse fans came down only on game day. They agreed.
Quick discussion of the game...
Let me preface this by saying my seats were crappy. I was in a corner of the end zone far from the action. I have no seen any replays or video. That said, it looked to me as thought we used a 4 man DL most of the game for the first time since Brian Ward was the DC. ECF and Darton played DT most of the time (some other guys subbed in some) and we went with Wax and Bailey at LB most of the time. Pretty shocking to see. I think UM was surprised too. They looked unprepared for it and frankly, their offense was awful almost the entire game. Props to their QBs for making a couple great throws when they got into scoring position. When they had chances, they took advantage of them.
I thought young Bailey was really good in his first start. I don't think Sparrow played at all. I don't think McDonald played at all. I saw Lowery play some, and I think we did play a little 3-5-5 but it was mostly 4-2-5. Interesting.
Thought Wax was a shadow of his normal self. I didn't see him limping but he rarely made plays and was not much of a factor. He broke up a pass early, almost getting a pick and not much after that. Hope he is just really banged up and will be 100% for spring ball. I think he played was a separated shoulder and would not be surprised if he has surgery sometime soon.
Jarquez was back. Nice. Thought Jobbity again played really well. Darton was his usual solid self. Thought ECF, playing in his home city, did a nice job. Quan Peterson got a lot of PT as the third CB and looked very good. They picked on Johnson some at CB early and hurt us there. Clark is a good tackler but he missed a couple that hurt us. Thought Barron had a solid game. Seems to be growing nicely into the rover role, which is has taken over completely these days.
I liked what Nick did a lot overall. I think he blitzed a bit more than Tony usually does. Was able to get major contributions from two true frosh playing significant minutes for the first time. Somehow got a great effort out of the defense with significant numbers out on the DL, LBs and DBs. I think we were down to 2 original starters left for this game. It was impressive.
Maybe the biggest key that allowed UM to get dominated all game and still win was special teams. Denaburg got off to a great start kicking off and slow degraded as the season progressed. Not sure what happened yesterday. Maybe he was playing hurt. Their kicker got the ball to the end zone consistently. With great height. We could not match it.
Same story with the punters. Every time we exchanged punts, it seemed like we lost 20 yards in the process. Von Marburg started out the season well and I had high hopes he would slowly get better as the season progressed. But he, like Brady, saw his performance slowly get worse as the season went on. He punts like very deliberately, like a robot. Very mechanical. He is all messed up. Licky has a lot of work to do in these areas. Props to Szmyt, who was solid in his final game as an Orangeman. Also props to Denaburg for making a TD saving tackle on the bad KO where they faked a handoff. At least he didn't give up on the play.
I don't know who the SU football equipment manager is any longer. I was yelling at Kyle Fetterley for screwing up and giving the players the wrong type of cleats to wear. But my brother pointed out he apparently retired years ago. So Kyle, I apologize. It seemed like most of the SU players were playing on skates. Way more slipping and falling from the SU players than the Minnesota players. Pretty sure they play on grass and are a lot more knowledgeable about footwear for playing on that surface than our staff. I hope our equipment staff learns from this disastrous experience and gets our players in the right gear for future games on grass. We have grass practice fields and we play on grass fields at other schools regularly. This should never happen.
Let's talk about Jason Beck and what he did with the offense. We struggled to move the ball for long period and then went long periods when UM could not stop us. They got exhausted towards the end of the game and were reduced to faking injuries a number of times to try and get a rest.
Now UM had great numbers on defense and I think many were shocked at how many first downs and total yards Syracuse was able to get on them. I think a lot of the credit for the impressive defensive numbers UM had goes to their schedule. The B1G West (or whatever it is called) is a really bad division that is particularly awful at offense. There are a lot of programs in that division that just can't move the ball and put up points. That is why so many of the teams in that division have good numbers on defense.
But part of this is nice work by the SU offense and Coach Beck. Props to Gasdsen, Allen and Cooper. Thought Shrader was good most of the time but did not have his best day throwing and again, was not his normal self running the ball. When he is right, he can run away from DL and LBs pretty easily and gets a few 20 or 30 yard type gains every game. He just didn't have that normal burst again yesterday. Props to him for playing hurt.
For a while there, we pretty much abandoned the run and threw on every play. Garrett threw 51 passes. That is amazing. Props to Beck for working the run in some after the pass had been established. Laquint is everything we were hoping for. Very quick, made his reads really well and I was really wowed by his excellence as a receiver. Coach Beck used a lot of 4 wide formations designed to spread UM out and he was able to run from that, mostly wide, with Laquint and when he has some room, he is a very dangerous man.
Very disappointed in the loss. Always unhappy when we lose and I think we were the better team. We were the better team. But football is more than just about talent and credit to UM for playing near mistake free football (this includes penalties) and for having excellent special teams. In the final analysis, that was the difference in this game.