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35-17 defeat to Florida State a sign of Syracuse’s unraveling season

first_imgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Syracuse had seen the play before. The ball hopped around the backfield from quarterback to running back then back to the quarterback. The white jerseys spun around and followed, but just a step behind the whole time. Eventually the ball came back to Florida State quarterback Alex Hornibrook. He slung the third pass of the play, the first forward one, just before the rush collapsed. Tamorrion Terry caught the pass and weaved inside then back out on the Syracuse defense for a 54-yard gain. For the third-straight week, Syracuse (3-5, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) was burned on double pass trick play. This one didn’t go for a touchdown, but it set one up in the Seminoles (4-4, 4-1) eventual 35-17 throbbing of the Orange at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Syracuse’s issues this year are a broken record, and the scratches on the disc aren’t going away. An offensive line, which had a player quit prior to the game, allowed seven or more sacks for the fourth time in as many conference matchups. An offense which kept the team in games for the past three seasons failed once again failed to eclipse 150 yards in the first half. And a team, still unsure of the answers, fielded questions about the same flaws it showed the week before and the week before that.This is what a season falling apart looks like. “I feel like there’s a lot of the same mistakes,” Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito said. “I feel like it’s a lot of mental mistakes which is what makes the coaches the most upset. Things that we’ve talked about, just keep popping up.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs each game carries on, Syracuse cements itself as potentially the worst team in what might be the nation’s worst Power 5 conference. Syracuse is now one of four teams that hasn’t won a Power 5 game. The Orange rank last in the nation in sacks allowed, and took seven more on Saturday. Even the defense, which had forced turnovers in 21-straight games, ended its streak against Florida State. Of the 14 ACC teams, Syracuse is the only one that hasn’t won a conference game. Against FSU, Syracuse compiled 343 total yards, though 219 of those yards came in the second half. The Orange’s three first half points only happened after a drive was extended by a roughing the kicker penalty. In past weeks, the offense at least had a big pass play or a designed quarterback run for chunk yardage. Not on Saturday. By the time the Orange rushing attack put together its most yards (192) since Western Michigan, FSU was playing second string players.“We just keep sticking,” defensive tackle Josh Black said. “We just can’t figure out how to fine-tune this to make it happen in the first half as opposed to the second half.”All of this came against a Florida State team not much different than last year’s Seminoles squad which the Orange defeated 30-7. Leading up to the game, rumors of firing head coach Willie Taggart stirred again and the Seminole faithful questioned where their program had gone wrong. But Syracuse has its own issues this year and they started compounding even before Saturday’s game began. On Friday, offensive tackle Ryan Alexander’s resignation from the program was announced. Defensive back Trill Williams was ruled out before the game began. Then, shortly after kickoff, DeVito was sacked twice on the first series and Florida State scored on its first two possessions. The sacks were the same as they’ve been all year. Some came from blitzes where the Orange left a man unblocked. Others came from successful pass rushes, leaving DeVito nowhere to scramble. The offensive line did look better though, Babers said, noting that the seven sacks didn’t indicate how successful the line had been. DeVito had a time to throw more often than in past games. It still wasn’t enough. “The frustration is seeing the same happen over and over. I do think there was some positives in the offensive line which is kind of, I’m not going to say the word excited but I’m like, ‘Hey, okay.’”In prior games, Syracuse’s offensive ineptitude had been hidden by strong defensive play. On Saturday, the stale offense was again on full display. Outside passing routes didn’t work, with throws often sailing out of the reach on comeback patterns. Jump balls, sometimes the saving grace of a flaking offense, didn’t land. When it came time for third down, the Orange false started several times, and failed to pick up blitzes on others. In the fourth quarter, the Orange scored twice, but fourth quarter rushing yards when trailing by three scores pad stats, not win games.“The past couple games in the first half, offensively we have not done nearly enough,” DeVito said. “For everything to start clicking in the game, it’s good and all but it doesn’t help us win the football game.”The offensive production came too late. Syracuse had already failed to stop a trick play and a funky offensive set. It had already faltered on its own trips to the red zone. Syracuse had already started to unravel, both in the game and in the season, and now it might not stop.  Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 26, 2019 at 7:13 pm Contact Josh: jlschafe@syr.edu | @Schafer_44last_img

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