Five Takeaways from Syracuse's Loss at Louisville
1. The Defense is Being Hung Out to Dry
The Syracuse defense is not perfect. But in a game where they hold Louisville to three yards per carry, have four sacks and force three turnovers, Syracuse was not even competitive. That is a game you should win a large percentage of the time, and should be competitive, at a minimum, every single time. Instead, the offense cannot take advantage of turnovers nor stay on the field. Syracuse had seven drives, not including the end of the half and game, that were four plays or fewer. The offense and special teams are also turning the ball over, which puts the defense right back on the field. Against Louisville, Syracuse threw an interception and fumbled two kickoff returns. That gave Louisville great field position which turned into points. Of the 30 points Syracuse gave up, 17 of them came when Louisville had starting field position at midfield or better. Despite starting six freshmen, the defense is playing well enough to be competitive. Syracuse still is not.
2. Where are the Offensive Adjustments?
Yes Syracuse has injuries. Yes Syracuse is on its third quarterback and fourth running back. That said, the offense has become vanilla, uncreative and inefficient to the point of ineptitude. There is no motion. There is no tempo. There do not appear to be adjustments to try to get a spark. Rarely does Syracuse go to a screen. Since Jacobian Mogan took over, rarely does Syracuse go down field. They have run the ball better the last few weeks, but are still passing the ball more often. Tight ends are not utilized, there are no roll outs to take the pressure off of the offensive line. What happened to being innovative, progressive and fast? Syracuse only ran 41 plays against Louisville. Woof.
3. Something has to be Done About the Offensive Line
The offensive line was a mess in pass protection Friday night. Louisville only had three sacks, but they were in Jacobian Morgan's face all night long. Syracuse struggled mightily against the blitz, and the Cardinals even got home when they dropped into coverage. Injuries forced fullback Chris Elmore to move to starting guard, but he has not been the biggest problem at all. Airon Servais is getting beat more than he has during his career. Carlos Vettorello is getting pushed back too easily. Whether this is a change in personnel, a philosophy change or something else, I'm not sure. But it cannot stay the same.
4. Sean Tucker is Still a Bright Spot
The only offensive bright spot against Louisville was Sean Tucker. He is really good and will only get better. Tucker ran for 93 yards on 16 carries for a robust 5.8 yards per tote average. Why he only got 16 carries instead of 25+ is also a valid question. He should be the focal point of the offense moving forward.
5. The Veterans Need to Step Up
Syracuse has freshmen and sophomores playing key roles. In many instances, roles the coaching staff did not anticipate heading into the season. Yet, there are still veterans making critical mistakes that are thwarting any chance Syracuse has to gain momentum or try to be competitive. Whether it is offensive linemen getting beat or committing penalties, Taj Harris dropping a third down pass that was perfectly thrown and leads to an interception, Nykeim Johnson fumbling a kickoff return, or Aaron Hackett fumbling a short kickoff. This is not all because of young players making mistakes due to inexperience. These are some of your better, more experienced players making mistakes that are simply unacceptable.