The Downside- Virginia | Syracusefan.com

The Downside- Virginia

SWC75

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- The ribbon scoreboard after the game said “Syracuse improves to 4-0”. We got to 4-0 but I don’t know about the improvement. We seem to be in decline on offense and we’re losing defensive players like flies. We’re very likely to move on to 5-0 next week but without the momentum that record implies. I’ve often said that you want two things from every game: to win and to be optimistic about winning future games. This performance deprived me of the latter, at least until we have another genuinely impressive performance. The good feelings I expected to have these next three weeks have mostly evaporated. I haven’t given up on having a big season but sense that something great was happening this year is dormant. I felt the same this in the crowd. In past years I often found myself the only one in my section cheering. This year we’ve all been very loud. And we were very loud in the first half but as the second half stumbled onward, the noise level sagged badly until I again seemed to be the only one cheering. The noise level returned during the final drive but I still detected a dip in confidence and enthusiasm. Relief is not enough.

- I know we lost Chris Elmore but the other guys up front are the same guys that opened the holes for Sean Tucker’s SU record of 1,496 yards last year at 6.1 yards per carry and 12TDs, but they have been imposters this year. This year he has 314 yards at a 3.6 clip and 2 scores. And it’s getting worse: these last two games he has 102 yards on 39 carries, (2.6) and no scores. In the plays I saw tonight, the problem is the second wave of defenders. Sean gets past the first wave but gets clobbered by the second. That means that our guys are not getting past the line of scrimmage to block that second wave. But Sean in the Louisville game had 100 yards and a score in 21 carries, (4.8) and against Connecticut 112 yards in 27 carries (4.1). That seemed disappointing at the time but I’d sure take it now. The hope of getting Sean to new York for the Heisman ceremony or having him drafted in the early rounds my be fading unless this totally turns around. Maybe Robert Anae is a whiz at passing attacks but doesn’t know how to mount a running attack.

- And what happened to the designed Garrett Shrader runs, especially from the fake to Tucker? I saw one planned run early in the game, later a QB draw that was stuffed and then the big run at the end of the game that restored the near-automatic field goal range. Tucker and Shrader are supposed to be a 1-2 punch.

- There were a lot of pass plays where Shrader could find no one open and either had to force a pass, scramble or take a sack. Oronde Gadsden had another big game with 7 catches for 107 yards but the others were mediocre at best. And even Gadsden had only one second half catch.

- We looked brilliant on our first drive, scoring in 6 plays. It looked like a blow-out. We never looked like that on any subsequent drive and kept an underdog in the game until the very end. We seemed to be waiting for bad things to happen and they did.

- The numbers are crazy. We, the team with the powerful running attack, ran for 75 yards at 2.0 yards a carry and passed for 277. Virginia the great passing team with no running attack, ran for 151 yards at 5.1 yard per carry and passed for 138. Richmond ran for 170 yards at 4.9 a pop on these guys. Illinois ran for 198 yards (4.4) and Old Dominion ran for just 89 yards (2.8) but that’s still better than we did.

- We were one of four teams in the country with no turnovers going into this game. The stat meant nothing. We came close to multiple turnovers last week but got bailed out by penalties. That didn’t happen this week and we coughed up four turnovers. The defense negated most of them but they and a dozen penalties prevented us from getting anything going.

- The refs played quite a tune tonight, calling 12 penalties on each team for a total of 196 yards and extending the contest deep into the night. I can’t say whether any of their calls were wrong but I have a problem with what they didn’t call. On the apparent safety they not only falsely claimed that the quarterback progress had been stopped on the field of play but put the ball down on the three years line. Apparently, forward progress is wherever the QB takes the snap. Can you even ahve forward progress if the guy never went forward? I’m listening to Brent Axe tell me that Trebor Pena’s fumble on the kickoff that changed everything should have been a targeting call. Steve Linton was clearly tackled at least once.

- We keep losing people. Terry Lockett had to be helped off the field and was seen on crutches later. Alijah Clark had to be helped off but was able to return. Sean Tucker was down again but walked off under his own power and played the second half. Ja’Had Carter was mentioned in the post-game show as being hurt, (I didn’t see that one). My great fear and only real concern about the Wagner game is that more of key players could get hurt. Games between teams on different levels can sometimes get chippy. (I’ll always remember Ted Gregory getting injured against Colgate in ’87: he played some more but was never the same and it might have cost him a pro career.)
 
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JoeSU

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- There were a lot of pass plays where Shrader could find no one open and either had to force a pass, scramble or take a sack.
I can think of at least 3 plays where Shrader should have thrown the ball away to avoid taking a sack. One was on a drive in the 3rd Qtr. deep in UVA territory, where he should have just thrown the ball over the WR's head out of the back of the endzone. The other, which could have cost us the game, was on our final drive, where the sack would have made Szmyt's FG attempt much more difficult. Fortunately, Shrader helped to redeem himself with a nice run on the ensuing play to regain the lost yardage.
In-game management decisions like this come with experience. I'm sure Beck will work with Shrader on this.
 

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