Game Review: UConn at Syracuse

Syracuse got back on track with a big 40-10 win over Connecticut in a completely dominating performance. recaps all of the action.

The First Quarter

Syracuse's defense opened up the game by forcing back-to-back punts on UConn's first two drives of the game.

The Orange had tackles for losses on each of those Huskies' drives with linebacker Dyshawn Davis attaining two and defensive end Brandon Sharpe with one en route to silencing UConn early.

Syracuse established the run on their opening drive, with running back Jerome Smith gaining 49 yards, attaining 10 or more yards on three of his first four carries.

But from the UConn four-yard line, the Orange were unable to gain a touchdown or even a first down on 3rd-and-1, settling for a 22-yard field goal from kicker Ross Krautman to be the first on the board, leading 3-0.

The Orange special teams' unit made a statement before the start of Syracuse's second drive when strong safety Ritchy Desir returned UConn's second punt of the game 33 yards, switching fields and getting to the Huskies' 21-yard line.

After a fumble recovery by quarterback Ryan Nassib and a six-yard rush by Smith, the Orange kicked their second field goal of the game, this one from 33, to go up 6-0.

On UConn's third drive of the game, Whitmer completed six of his eight pass attempts while the Syracuse defense continued their rush defense prowess, holding running back Lyle McCombs to three yards on three carries. But it was not enough, as the Huskies were able to get on the board with a 23-yard field goal from Chad Christen to give UConn their first points of the game, down 6-3.

After scoring on both of their first two drives, the Orange ended The Opening quarter with a three-and-out drive, leading the Huskies by a field goal.

Syracuse ended the first quarter with 64 rushing yards, 57 of them coming from Smith, who did not lose a yard on any of his seven carries.

The Second Quarter

UConn opened this quarter moving the ball well, with Whiter completing two passes to wide receiver Michael Smith for 32 yards, both receptions exceeding 10 yards. But at the Syracuse 35-yard line, Whitmer was hit hard by Davis, who appeared to force a fumble with Whitmer seemingly not in throwing motion. The play was placed under review with the official ruling of a forward pass attempt, negating the fumble and giving the ball back to the Huskies. On the very next play, the Orange got through once again with free safety Durell Eskridge enacting the hit on Whitmer, forcing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Cameron Lynch.

Syracuse would start their first drive of the second quarter off of this fumble recovery at the UConn 45. After gaining and then losing yards with plays to wide receiver Alec Lemon, the Orange were called for a false start, bringing up 3rd-and-12. Nassib completed to tight end Beckett Wales for an 18-yard gain, overcoming early trouble on the drive. Then, Lemon overcame his early troubles with a reception and a spin after to get him out of an attempted tackle for a 17-yard gain that placed Syracuse at the UConn 10-yard line.

The Orange went back to the run for their next three plays, with Nassib, running back Prince-Tyson Gulley, and running back Adonis Ameen-Moore each taking carries, in that order. Moore crossed the goal-line on his attempt from one yard out to give him his third red zone touchdown in three games and give Syracuse a 13-3 lead on UConn.

On the following Huskies' drive, the defensive line of the Orange applied sound pressure, with defensive tackle Zian Jones causing Whitmer to get rid of the ball on an attempted sack which led to an incompletion, while defensive end Brandon Sharpe kept McCombs by the line of scrimmage on his run. But the most significant play by the defensive line on this UConn drive was the sack from defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster which sent the Huskies back 12 yards. The defensive line won the drive, forcing UConn to punt the ball away.

However, the Syracuse offense failed to capitalize off the defensive assist, starting their drive with a 10-yard penalty for holding which they never overcame, punting the ball back to the Huskies after a three-and-out.

With the ball back in their hands, UConn would attain their first touchdown of the game on a play that made the Syracuse secondary look as ineffective as you can get, allowing tight end Ryan Griffin to be wide open for a completion and then giving him time to turn and run in for a score. On the drive, the Orange secondary gave up three pass plays for more than 15 yards each, with UConn gaining 18, 23, and 32 yards in successive receptions. The Huskies had cut the lead to a field goal once again, down 13-10.

A pass interference penalty brought Syracuse close to midfield at their own 42-yard line early in the drive. From there, wide receiver Jarrod West would grab his first reception of the game, keeping the Orange in a first-down situation. Nassib would fumble on the following play, but his center, Macky MacPherson, came to his aid, recovering the fumble to keep the possession with Syracuse. MacPherson's recovery would make possible the next play, a 41-yard catch and run by Lemon to the Huskies' two-yard line.

Moore was brought back in for a short yardage attempt at the goal. This time, Moore did not advance past the goal-line, but his presence still provided the Orange with a touchdown when Nassib faked the handoff to Moore on the next play and then rolled out to his right, throwing to tight end Beckett Wales who went in untouched. The Orange extended their lead back to double digits, up 20-10.

Syracuse's secondary exhibited good coverage on the Huskies' final drive of the first half, with Eskridge knocking a pass attempt away with both hands, forcing another punt by UConn.

The Orange would run once, which would run out the clock, going into the break with their 10-point lead.

After achieving 57 yards in the first quarter, Smith would only add three in the second, going into halftime with 60 yards on nine carries.

In the passing game, Nassib completed seven of his 12 attempts for 104 yards, throwing one touchdown and no interceptions. Lemon led all receivers from both teams, gaining 72 of Nassib's 104 passing yards.

The Third Quarter

Syracuse received the ball first in the second half, and did not waste any time, scoring on a run by Gulley from four yards out. Gulley had rushes of three and 10 yards on the drive leading up to the touchdown.

Despite running the ball on all but one play, Nassib's one completion set up the Gulley touchdown, when he found Lemon for a passing play that ended after a gain of 68 yards.

On two catches alone, Lemon had 109 receiving yards, with this 68-yard play added to his 41-yard play of the first half. More importantly, both of these receiving plays aided the Syracuse offense to touchdowns.

The Orange advanced to a 17-point lead, scoring on their opening drive just as they did in the first half, but this time for a touchdown, ahead 27-10 in the early portion of the latter half.

Syracuse's defense forced a quick three-and-out for UConn, giving their offense the ball back of another punt by the Huskies.

After an eight-yard completion to Lemon by Nassib, the Orange turned to the run, handing the ball off to Smith for five straight rush attempts. Smith did not lose a yard on any of his carries, gaining 41 total yards. Within his five carries, Smith achieved three first downs, getting Syracuse to the UConn 17-yard line.

But a 10-yard holding penalty on the Orange sent them back to the Huskies' 27-yard line and Syracuse did not achieve another first down, bringing up a 42-yard attempt by Krautman. His attempt passed in between the uprights for his first made field goal attempt this season from a distance of 40 or more yards, giving the Orange a 30-10 advantage.

Syracuse's defense continued to be effective, forcing another punt after allowing a first down on UConn's first play.

With a touchdown already in his favor, Wales aided the Orange offense to two first downs on an 18-yard receiving play followed by a 30-yard completion and run.

Nassib's third pass went to Lemon in the end zone, giving Lemon his first touchdown of the season and Syracuse a 37-10 lead.

The next UConn drive looked like their previous one, beginning with a first down through the air and ending with a punt.

Going into the final quarter, Smith had already surpassed 100 yards on the ground, with 134 yards on 18 carries.

The Fourth Quarter

The Orange opened the fourth quarter the same way they did each of the first three quarters, by scoring on their opening drive. They did so at the foot of Krautman, who after blanking from deep in the team's first six games, connected once again from 40-plus yards away on a 47-yard field goal to put Syracuse ahead 40-10.

UConn had a first down off their first pass of their drive for the third straight time, and punted the ball away for their third straight drive.

Then came running back Ashton Broyld, who had been held off the field in the team's last few contests. Broyld carried the ball eight straight times on this drive, providing the Orange with three first downs, including overcoming a 10-yard holding penalty.

Syracuse would punt the ball away.

On UConn's final drive of the game, they would advance to the Syracuse 26-yard line, only to be intercepted by strong safety Shamarko Thomas, who would stay up, running around players to run down the clock.

The Orange offense would kneel down twice after not kneeling to the Huskies at all in this game to close out the match 40-10 in favor of the Orange.

Worth Noting

In his first win versus UConn, Nassib ended the game 251 yards on 14 completions in 20 attempts. He threw two touchdowns and did not give up an interception.

On the ground, Smith ended the night with 133 rushing yards, a career high.

Lemon, who has already become the leader in receptions among all Syracuse players in their storied history, continued to impress, shredding tackles and gaining yards after the catch for a 166-yard performance on eight receptions, including his first touchdown of the season.

The Syracuse senior now has 22-straight games with at least one catch.

Wales had his best performance of the season, gaining 69 yards on four receptions, including one for Nassib's other touchdown play.

The defense continued to impress against the run, keeping their third-consecutive opposing rusher under 100 yards.

As a team, UConn amounted -6 rushing yards on 18 attempts.

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