In a matchup that had a lot of hype around Central New York, Syracuse fell short of the buzz by losing to a more talented Clemson Tigers squad. We went back and re-watched the game to see who stood out in each phase of the game.
Top Talent: RB Jerome Smith – On an offense that struggled throughout most of the game, Smith was a bright spot running for 125-yards and a touchdown. That includes a career long 66-yard scoring scamper in the second quarter where he showed his improved speed.
Middle Man: H-back Ashton Broyld – The talented sophomore led the team in receptions, with five, and had a career high 64-yards receiving. Broyld also was involved in two trick plays, one on a pass back to quarterback Terrel Hunt, and another on a deep pass to Chris Clark that drew a pass interference penalty. Still, Broyld had a bad drop as he still works on consistency catching the football.
Bottom Feeder: The Wide Receivers – The Orange receivers failed to make a single catch on Saturday as they were blanketed by the Clemson defensive backs throughout. There was no separation down the field, giving Terrel Hunt little, if any, room to throw the ball. Jarrod West, Jeremiah Kobena and Chris Clark were uninspiring and leave serious questions for the Syracuse offense going forward.
Top Talent: LB Marquis Spruill – Lost in the poor defensive performance on Saturday was the play of senior linebacker Marquis Spruill. He finished the game with a team leading nine tackles, including one sack and two for loss. Spruill was all over the field making big hits and pressuring Tajh Boyd.
Middle Man: DT Jay Bromley – Bromley continued his strong season with a two sack performance on Saturday. While he was stonewalled at times, Bromley was one of the few defensive linemen generating pressure on Boyd.
Bottom Feeder: The Secondary – The Syracuse defensive backs were torched for 455-yards from Boyd including some long touchdown passes. Miscommunication and poor coverage were the theme for this group on Saturday. Not having Brandon Reddish certainly hurt, as does the loss of Keon Lyn for the rest of the season.
Top Talent: P Ryan Norton – Norton set a school record with his 75-yarder in the first quarter. He finished the day with nine total punts averaging over 46-yards per kick.
Middle Man: RB DeVante McFarlane – One of the more exciting plays from the Syracuse perspective on Saturday was the fake punt which McFarlane took 38-yards into the Clemson redzone. On kickoffs, however, McFarlane left a lot to be desired averaging only 18-yards per return.
Bottom Feeder: The Kick Return Unit – Syracuse has been unspectacular on kick returns through the first four games, and that continued on Saturday. Both Devante McFarlane and George Morris are averaging less than 20-yards per return. Neither is dynamic enough to create something on their own, and they aren't having running lanes opened for them to explode through.