The Downside | Syracusefan.com

The Downside

SWC75

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- Three weeks ago we were riding high after destroying West Virginia 49-23. We were dreaming of following up an 8-5 bowl winning season with a 10-2 ride to the BCS. All we had to do was to play at something close to that level the rest of the way. Maybe the players, having seen how good they could be, would rise to that level on a consistent basis. Nope.

- “I just have to do a better job” was the introduction to every answer Doug Marrone gave in his press conference. I know the kids love it when their coach runs interference for them with the press but is the coach supposed to look for new rabbits to pull out of his hat? The players still have to get the job done. (I’m trying to imagine JB saying that he has to do a better job of…whatever….)

- One thing they could do is take a good look at the rabbits they have. The two primary reasons why we lost this game- or at least deprived ourselves of a chance to win it- were the drops in the red zone in the second half and the way we choose to start the game. This was still another game that proves that we are not a running team. The offense has functioned at it’s best this year when we are attacking the defense with the pass and giving Ryan Nassib a chance to get into a rhythm. On his show on Wednesday, I asked Coach Marrone about accepting the ball at the start of the game, (that didn’t come up- USF won the toss and deferred), referring to the way we would try to shock the other team with a big play on the first play and get the crowd into the game in the Coach Mac era. He said that he and his staff were looking at that and considering what they would do. I took that to mean that they were cooking up something special for the opening possession. What we got was seven runs up the middle in a row and three straight punts to start the game. We gained 43 yards in those first three possessions. We ran the ball 13 times in 18 plays and got sacked on one of the passing plays. Nassib completed one of the four passes for 6 yards. When we got the ball back at 10:51 of the second quarter we were down 0-10. We then switched to the “pass first” mode. From that point on we ran the ball 19 times for 71 yards and passed it 42 times, completing 23, (with at least half a dozen drops along with a no-call on an obvious interference in the end zone), for 291 yards. We got outscored 17-27 but the difference clearly was the drops. It would be great to have better players but we don’t. In the meantime, can we please do what we’re best at - and do it from the opening kickoff? - The refs didn’t do us any favors in this game but we didn’t do ourselves any favors, their with 10 penalties for 84 yards. The Coach stresses leadership and discipline but it doesn’t show up on the field.

- Tough to see the defense wilt on that last drive. It’s a little more understandable that they couldn’t stop BJ Daniels, who can run and throw than last week, when they couldn’t stop a guy who had thrown 7 passes all year and threw none against us. I didn’t think the run defense was a problem but now it seems to be- along with everything else.

- We ought to be “kicker U” but we can’t punt, can’t keep kickoffs in bounds or get them to the end zone. Hey, we made all our place-kicks! - Four more punt returns. Four more fair catches. That’s 30 of 40 punts by the opposition this year that have produced no return yardage for SU. All told we’ve gotten 38 returns yards on 40 punts. Coach said on his show that they are studying the situation.

- It was good that the coaches and Ryan Nassib recognized that USF had decided to take Nick Provo out of the game with double and triple coverage and went to his wide receivers instead. It was too bad that Van Chew got hurt again and couldn’t play in the second half. It was great that Alec Lemon had such a big game. But we should have gotten more than 28 yards in 4 catches from the other wide-outs. Some of it was drops. Some of it was focusing on Alec. But this team is at it’s best when we use all our weapons and the whole field. Dorian Graham is back to dropping balls as a receiver but he’s clearly our best kick returner- as he was last year. Last year he got 24.5 yards per 16 returns and Prince-Tyson Gulley got 21.8 yards per 33 returns. This year Dorian has averaged 26.3 yards on 9 returns with a TD while Jeremiah Kobena has averaged 22.9 yards on 39 returns. So why is Dorian positioned as an up-back?

- The league is full of struggling, inconsistent teams. USF probably played their best game of the year. Why does everybody have to “get well” against us?

- We were 5-2 and a bowl game seemed a given. Now we have to beat the best team in the conference and go on the road to play Pittsburgh, a team that has beaten us 6 times in a row and 8 out of 9, (Troy Nunes won the other in OT in 2004). It’s now going to take a big upset to get to a bowl and that’s going to take a lot more than we’ve seen in the last three weeks.
 
No way around it, this is really bad.
I'm still a little in shock about these last 3 games- & granted, inconsistency is part of rebuilding...but why this "free-fall to nowhere"?
The biggest play of the season, IMO, was that Bailey fumble against Rutgers. :bang:
I try not to think about where we'd be right now, even w/ this 3-loss streak, if he'd scored on that play. At worst, we'd be eligible, instead of fighting for our seasonal lives.
Its pretty simple, we HAVE to get 1 of these 2, or this season is a major setback- not because of the final record, but because of the way we got to that final record.
 

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