Amassing 549 yards of total offense would leave most satisfied with that performance. However, Syracuse, once again, left a lot of points off the board. CuseNation.com breaks down their offensive performance against Stony Brook.
The Passing Game
Ryan Nassib had a very good second half. He was more accurate, made better decisions, and threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns. His pass to Marcus Sales to extend the lead to 11 was a gorgeous read on a skinny post. The safety came up towards the line of scrimmage, and Nassib hit Sales in the vacated area for an easy touchdown.
Marcus Sales had another big game. He finished with five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. It was Sales third straight 100-yard receiving game. Sales was open for most of the day, especially down the field. His speed and route running were too much for the Stony Brook defenders.
While Alec Lemon did not have a big time game, he did move into third place on the all-time receptions list. Still coming back from injury, Lemon is working his way back into the offense. But he showed the same sure-handedness that has made him a reliable target.
Jarrod West continues to have a productive season. He has really improved from last season. His route running is much more crips, and he seems to have a knack for getting open. But the most impressive part of his game has been yards after the catch. West's first step after the catch is very, very good. He frequently makes defensive backs miss, and gains extra yardage. West is the best receiver on the team at taking a five to eight yard route and turning into a 15 or 20 yard gain.
Ryan Nassib was not at his best. In the first half, he really struggled completing only six passes in 15 attempts. He missed open receivers, and seemed rattled. It was different than the poised, confident Nassib we saw in the first two games.
Chris Clark struggled to get open against the Stony Brook corners. With his speed, that should not be a problem against FCS talent. He simply got no separation regardless of the route.
In the first half especially, the receivers had difficulty getting open against the Seawolves secondary. Given how well the receivers played in the first two games, it was surprising to see those struggles. It appeared as though the receivers expected to get open and were not focused on making their route running as good as it had been in previous games.
While the offensive line did not allow a sack, it was average at best. They allowed more pressure than would be expected. On a number of occasions, especially in the first half, Nassib was flushed out of the pocket quickly and forced to throw it away.
The Running Game
How good was Jerome Smith? Finishing with a career-high 95 yards, he had a great game. He showed good vision, explosion through the hole, and quick feet in space. That was what the coaching staff saw in the spring that landed him in the top spot on the depth chart.
Ashton Broyld showed glimpses of why he has such so much hype in the offseason. Finishing with 61 yards and a touchdown, it was easily his best performance on his young career. His 22-yard touchdown run was great. He took the hand-off from, sprinted up the middle through the line, broke a couple tackles and juked a defender on his way to the endzone. His footwork in the hole is fantastic. Broyld never seems to break speed when changing direction, and he is not easily brought down. His size, quickness, and elusiveness make him a big threat for the Orange.
It was disappointing to see Prince Tyson Gulley struggle running the ball so much. He finished with only 28 yards on 11 carries. The fumble towards the end of the first half was unacceptable. He wasn't really hit all that hard, and the ball just popped out. Gulley was indecisive in the hole, bounced things outside too frequently, and looked off nearly the entire game.
Missed opportunities are killing Syracuse and it has already cost them two games. Two missed field-goals by Ross Krautman, and two missed 4th down opportunities inside the Stony Brook 5-yard line left a lot of points on the board. Not being able to get a push on 4th and goal from inside the one is unacceptable against an FCS opponent.
The second-half, save the missed 4th down opportunities, was much more dominant. Syracuse moved the ball, put up over 300 yards of offense, and controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part. Syracuse has to figure out a way to start the game much better.
Ryan Nassib is putting up some gaudy numbers. He now has 1,139 yards passing in three games, 9 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. He is also completing nearly 70% of his passes.
The rushing attack put up over 200 yards for the first time this season. The only complaint is going with the hot hand. In the first two games, Gulley was the best back but did not get a lot of carries. In this game, Smith and Broyld were the best backs but did not get a lot of carries in the first half.
Marcus Sales is playing his way into the discussion as a top NFL draft pick. He now has 24 catches on the season for well over 300 yards.
The Syracuse offense will look to take the next step in their first true road game of the season, as they face Minnesota next Saturday night.