On paper, it looked as if Syracuse got dominated in Friday night's 37-17 loss to South Florida. Looking into the box score, though, it would not appear that the passing game had many problems considering Ryan Nassib threw for a pair of scores on the way to nearly 300 yards.
But what gets lost in stats and numbers, is what could have been. Upon seeing the game, the offense was limited on the scoreboard for one glaring reason - drops.
Alec Lemon had a monster of a game in terms of yardage, amassing a career-high 179 yards and two scores on 10 receptions. He was explosive and effective in a big way for the second straight week, but he too could not come up with two catches that he admitted he had to haul in. Lemon could not come up with a catch on fourth down late in the game which would have resulted in a score that would have put SU down just one score in the fourth quarter, and he dropped a would-be first down early in the game.
"A lot of drops during the week translates to the game," Lemon said. "When we have an opportunity to make a big play, get that first down, Ryan (Nassib) is counting on us to make plays."
"When you don't, it kind of sucks. It's kind of frustrating, you want to get the ball back but it's kind of hard when your dropping the ball all the time."
Dorian Graham was also unable to come up with what would have been a score, as well as a few conversion opportunities throughout the loss.
"We feel sick to our stomach," Graham said when asked what the receiving corps was feeling after the game. "Ryan (Nassib) put the ball where he needed to put it, (but) we didn't make plays."
"Coach (Nathaniel Hackett) put in a good plan, we executed well, we just didn't make the play at the end."
Nassib was asked what his receivers said to him after the game, and the signal-caller wasn't ready to place all the blame solely on the receivers and tight ends.
"I know I could have helped them out a few times," Nassib said. "(Throw) a couple of better balls, maybe take some heat off of it when they were in some tight windows, so I take responsibility for those (drops) as well."
The quarterback wanted the postgame focus on what the team needs to do going forward heading into the bye week after suffering three straight losses. He said a lot of the blame for the skid is due to the leadership on the team.
"We really have got to have some guys step up and not accept any little failure like waiting around in practice or dropping passes in practice or missing a tackle in practice or something," Nassib said. "All of those little things…have to be unacceptable."
"This is a big team, we got a lot of people playing," he added. "You can't just have a couple of leaders on one side of the ball, so a lot of us are going to have to step up. It doesn't matter the ages, doesn't matter what position you are on the depth chart…something's got to change."
SU will certainly have some extra time to get that done with 14 days in between the deflating loss and the next game (November 26) against conference leader Cincinnati.