The Eternal Pessimist: 'Cuse at Northwestern

Syracuse suffered a blowout loss in week two as they fell at Northwestern 48-27. It was more than just a loss for the Orange as there are several trends that are cause for major concern. We break it down inside.

The 2013 Syracuse Orange are in a lot of trouble. Through two weeks, there are a lot of trends that are major causes for concern on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, Syracuse struggles to move the ball with any sort of consistency. The passing game lacks playmakers. Jarrod West can't seem to get open, and Ashton Broyld doesn't have the hands to make critical catches at this point in his career. Jeremiah Kobena is a one trick pony.

Drew Allen has been terrible in his first two starts with six interceptions over that time. He struggles coming off of his primary target, staring down his receiver each play. Allen doesn't go through his progressions to find the open man, when there is one.

Up front, the offensive line is struggling to open up running lanes for Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and the like. Especially the left side of the line, which is supposed to be the strength, is not providing consistent creases for the Orange backs. There is no push from this group. They show flashes at times, but are not consistently providing the type of running lanes Syracuse saw in 2012.

The scheme has been underwhelming to this point. The lack of creativity in the playcalling has been alarming. Through the air, the plays seem to be quick bubble screens or posts down the field. You aren't seeing crossing routes, traditional screens, out-routes, combination routes, etc. The result is predictable plays, turnovers, and a lack of being able to move the ball consistently.

Defensively, the weaknesses in this unit reared their ugly head against Northwestern. The defensive line failed to generate pressure on either Wildcat quarterback without the aid of the blitz. Giving up nearly 600 yards of total offense is unacceptable.

The secondary had one of its worst games in some time as Northwestern receivers were running wide open all night long. There were blown frequent blown assignments, specifically with safety help over the top. The Orange seemed to be sitting back in a zone, which doesn't play to their strengths. They have the athletes to play man against most teams, and the zone allowed the Wildcat quarterbacks to pick them apart.

Northwestern's quarterbacks combined to go 30-37 for 375 yards with four touchdowns. This one week after a true freshman put up big numbers against a Syracuse secondary that is supposed to be one of the strong points of the Orange defense.

The tackling, which was such a strength in week one, was a major problem against the Wildcats. Marquis Spruill was one of the primary culprits, frequently missing tackles against the Northwestern running backs and quarterbacks. But the entire defense can take blame for their poor tackling. They couldn't get Northwestern off the field on third down, and missed tackles were one of the main reasons.

It's not just simply a wrapping up issue. Poor angles were taken, poor tackling technique and poor reactions were problems for the Orange in week two.

Specials had their issues as well. Ross Krautman missed an extra point, and Jonathan Fisher averaged only 27-yards on two punts. Combine that with George Morris bobbling a few kickoffs resulting in poor starting field position and the special teams bug hit the Orange again. It is still an area of concern.

Where does Syracuse go from here? There are a lot of issues to fix if the Orange are to reach a bowl. It starts with the quarterback, where a change may be necessary. A playmaker at receiver has to emerge as a consistent threat. The playbook has to generate more creativity to give Syracuse a chance to make plays. The offensive line must come together so that the ground game can get going.

Defensively, Syracuse is still in search of a consistent pass rush without the blitz. The secondary is still looking for answers as they've been picked apart for two consecutive weeks.

While there are reasons for concern now, if these issues are not corrected against Wagner, things could go downhill fast.

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