Averaging nearly 500 yards of offense and over 30 points per game, many expected the fast paced Syracuse offense to continue trending upwards against Minnesota. That was not the case as the Orange struggled mightily against the Gopher defense.
Alec Lemon set the Syracuse career receptions mark by catching nine passes. He went over 100 yards receiving for the first time this season. He displayed good hands, and ran very well after the catch. Lemon broke several tackles and showed the same type of ability that made him Syracuse's top wideout last season. He finally looked healthy for the first time in 2012.
Ryan Nassib was off all game. While the interceptions weren't his fault because he made the wrong reads, he still threw two and lost a fumble. Far too many turnovers for your leader. On the second interception, he never saw the blitzing safety. He has to do a better job at recognizing where the pressure is coming and adjusting accordingly. He held the ball far too long on a number of occasions. For some reason, he does not like throwing the ball away.
Where was Marcus Sales all game? He only caught two passes, both on the final drive. One went for a touchdown but the game was basically out of reach by that point. It was shocking to see him disappear given how good he has been all season. Hopefully this was a one game swoon, and he can get back in the swing of things after the bye.
The offensive line was bad. Ryan Nassib was under pressure all game, and most of it came from the right side. Lou Alexander has been bad all season, but this was his worst performance. Straight bull rushes and speed to the outside both kill him. The Minnesota defensive ends weren't putting big time moves on him, they were just beating him with basic pass rushing techniques. Justin Pugh can't come back soon enough.
The Running Game
Both Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson Gulley were solid in there performance. Smith averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and Gulley 4.8. They probably should have received a few extra touches.
The offensive line seems to be doing a better job on inside runs, save goal line situations. Macky MacPherson has been good as a run blocker and is much improved from last season.
There is absolutely no reason why Ryan Nassib should have the most carries of any running back. He carried it far too many times, and slides about a step or two too early. His fumble was curious as well. He seemed to lose the ball before the contact. Nassib has to do a better job of taking care of the ball.
Ashton Broyld was average at best in this game. His fumble in the redzone was a huge momentum killer. It was also disappointing to not see him in the goal to go situations. Given the Syracuse struggles recently, why not give him a shot there?
The play calling was the worst it has been all season. On 2nd and goal inside the 1, why is Smith running a toss play? It was a bad performance all around.
Missed opportunities and turnovers killed the Orange once again. It could be argued that with those, Syracuse could be 4-0 right now. But because of them, they are 1-3.
Three turnovers in the redzone is inexcusable. Combine that with the turnover on the first play from scrimmage, and the offense was just bad. You can't do those types of things and expect to win, let alone on the road.
Penalties continue to be a problem for this team. Too many of them game after game. Ten more in this game for 79 yards.
As a side note, how bad were the announcers? The Big Ten Network should be embarrassed. You can't butcher player names all game like that.
Syracuse must go 5-3 the rest of the way in order to become bowl eligible. With the road game at Missouri looming late in the season, Syracuse might have to 5-2 in conference play to get there. It is doable as South Florida, Connecticut, and others have been unimpressive. But the Orange have their work cut out for them.