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Five Takeaways: Syracuse 32 Purdue 29

What to make of the Orange's victory over the Boilermakers.

Syracuse topped Purdue 32-29 in the JMA Wireless Dome Saturday to improve to 3-0 on the season. Here are five takeaways from the victory. 

1. Sign of a Good Team

Good teams win games when they do not play their best. Syracuse did not play its best for three quarters but found a way to get it done in the fourth. Even when Purdue scored with less than a minute to go. The Boilermakers took the Orange's best weapon away (Sean Tucker), but Syracuse still put up over 30 points. It was not the prettiest. It was not the most efficient. But it was a win. Moreover, Syracuse won when Tucker had minimal productivity. These are all signs of a good football team and should be encouraging for the rest of the season. 

Side note: Tucker will be fine and have his big games. However, it is clear teams are focusing a large portion of their defensive attention on limiting him. 

2. Shrader Gutted it Out

Shrader was flat out awful throwing the ball in the first half. He did not see open receivers and was inaccurate on throws he had been completing in the first two games. He looked like 2021 Garrett Shrader, which is not who he was in the first two weeks this season. In the third and fourth quarter, he looked much more like the player we saw against Louisville and UConn. His ability to turn that around in-game against a good team is impressive. He made some really nice throws in the fourth quarter, none more impressive than the game winner to Oronde Gadsden. 

3. Defense

Early in the game, Purdue was running the ball well. The Orange defense, however, tightened that up and kept the Boilermaker at bay on the ground. In total, Purdue ran for 61 yards on 22 carries (2.8 yards per attempt). Through the air, however, the dynamic combination of Aidan O'Connell and Charlie Jones torched Syracuse. O'Connell completed 39 of 55 passes for 424 yards and three touchdowns. Jones had 11 catches for 188 yards and a score. Purdue tight end Payne Durham also had a big day with eight catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Syracuse struggled for most of the day to stop Purdue's passing attack, which looked every bit as good as it was hyped up to be. That said, Syracuse made key adjustments in bringing pressure towards O'Connell that forced mistakes or got them off the field. A huge play came in the fourth quarter when Jatius Geer got to O'Connell, who forced the throw to avoid a sack and saw his pass go right into the gut of Caleb Okechukwu. Okechukwu caught it and returned it for a touchdown. It turned out to be the difference in the game. Syracuse may not face a passing attack that dynamic the rest of the season, but it was a good test and will help them moving forward. 

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4. Oronde Gadsden

What a game from Syracuse's right end. He may not play the traditional tight end role, but he has proven to be a dynamic receiving threat. After a six catch, 112 yard, two touchdown performance against Purdue, Gadsden has 12 for 193 and three scores on the season. He is also averaging over 16 yards per catch. Gadsden can exploit the middle of the field, make tough catches, runs excellent routes and has proven he can make plays down the field as well. It has been a fantastic start to the season. 

5. Purdue

The Boilermakers will feel like they let one slip away, and they did. However, the penalties called at the end of the game were valid. After scoring with 51 seconds to go, Payne Durham got into the face of Garrett Williams and followed him around saying something. The official determined what he said was not appropriate and threw the flag. If you do not want the flag in that situation, just go to the sideline. Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm compounded the problem by picking up his own unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That gave Syracuse excellent field position to start the final drive. On the final drive, Purdue was called for defensive holding and defensive pass interference. Both were correct calls, and Purdue actually got away with another pass interference call on a previous play that drive. A lot of mistakes by Purdue in the fourth quarter. Syracuse was able to take advantage as good teams usually do. I think Purdue is a good team and will win plenty of games this season. This is a high quality win for the Orange. 

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