EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The big question entering Saturday night’s Syracuse/Notre Dame tilt was whether or not the Orange defense could contain all of the Irish offensive weapons. Specifically Everett Golson, who had turned it over during his first three games of the season, and his plethora of skill position threats.
Syracuse gave up 523-yards to Notre Dame inside MetLife Stadium. Looking strictly at the box score 161 rushing yards and 362-yards through the air suggest the answer was no. But for a large portion of the game, the defense more than held its own.
”I really liked our plan and five turnovers forced was pretty good,” head coach Scott Shafer said. “We were plus-four and came up short. We have to finish on offense.”
Everett Golson was hit early and often by defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough’s aggressive bunch. That group force five Notre Dame turnovers, four of which were by the previously unblemished Golson. Brandon Reddish and Durell Eskridge picked off the Irish signal caller, the latter returning his for a touchdown.
In addition, Syracuse forced Golson to fumble twice more to round his inconsistent night. The Orange defense stayed true to who they were. They controlled the interior running game, put a lot of pressure on Golson. Blitzed frequently and created opportunities for their offense.
Unfortunately, the Syracuse offense could not capitalize on those chances. An abundance of three-and-outs (three to be exact) and other short drives (nine under three minutes of game time) put the defense in a difficult position.
They largely held up, but the offensive fire power of the Irish eventually pushed through. But any Syracuse coach or fan would have taken a five-turnover night before the game started. Many would have thought that would lead to an Orange victory.
When Syracuse was beat, it was by quick passes on short comeback routes and bubble screens.
”We were playing a softer zone in those situations and they took advantage of it,” cornerback Julian Whigham said. “Good job to them. It was a good game plan. We started to tighten up in the second half and it started to work. We just have to get back to the drawing board and fix it.”
They have a short week to prepare for Louisville, who also has some weapons but has struggled offensively in their last two games. The Orange players believe they will be ready.
”We have to come back tomorrow and concentrate on the little things,” Eskridge said. “The penalties, the ball disruptions, the scooping and scoring. The little things. We have to come back and to work on that tomorrow. We have a big week ahead of us with Louisville coming in on Friday night.”