Skip to main content
Publish date:

Five Takeaways: Rutgers 17 Syracuse 7

What to take away from the Orange's home loss to the Scarlet Knights.

Syracuse fell 17-7 to Rutgers on Saturday in the Orange's home opener. Here are the five take aways from the game. 

1. Offensive Offense

There is not much to say about the offense against Rutgers. Just 258 yards of total offense, only 67 on the ground for just 2.2 yards per carry, 2-14 on third down, three turnovers and allowed six sacks. Just a poor outing all around. From play calling to execution, Syracuse took a significant step back in proving the offense is not the same as the last couple of years. Too many mistakes, too many pre-snap penalties. Syracuse is ready to win defensively. The offense needs to catch up.

2. Syracuse's Defense is Really, Really Good

As bad as the offense was, that's how well the defense performed. Rutgers was held to just 195 yards of total offense, 2.75 yards per play overall, only 50 rushing yards on 43 attempts for 1.2 yards per carry, 3-15 on third down and had four sacks. Every time Syracuse needed a stop, the defense came up big. Twice Rutgers was given the ball deep in Syracuse territory and the defense allowed zero points. This defense is ready to win a lot of games. Specifically, performances from Marlowe Wax, Mikel Jones and Caleb Okechukwu should be noted. Wax and Okechukwu each had a sack, while Okechukwu added seven tackles and two tackles for loss. Wax added a tackle for loss and four stops overall. Mikel Jones was a star in this game. He got into the backfield regularly, made a big hit on a fourth down stop, led the team with 11 tackles and three tackles for loss. He was superb. Cody Roscoe also had a very nice game with four tackles for loss and seven total stops. 

Read More

3. Field Position Killed Syracuse

Field position was an issue right from the start. A blocked punt set Rutgers up deep in Syracuse territory. While the Scarlet Knights did not score on that possession (thanks to stellar Syracuse defense), the Orange was behind the eight ball on field position all afternoon. The average starting field position for Rutgers was its own 41 yard line. For Syracuse, the 22 yard line. Those 19 yards of field position made a huge difference in this one. Syracuse never got a short field, did not start in Rutgers territory at all while Rutgers started in Syracuse territory five times. In fact, Syracuse only started beyond the 25 yard line twice all game, both of which happened in the first half. 

4. Why Go Away From Tucker?

Sean Tucker did not get a single carry after his 24 yard touchdown run tied the game in the third quarter. Considering he is your best offensive weapon, that is curious to say the least. Tucker had 54 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. That is over four yards per carry. True it was not as spectacular as week one, but Tucker was still effective as a runner. In a game that was close the entire way, only 13 carries is befuddling. He should get at least 20 every game. 

5. About Those Officials...

Syracuse had a lot of chances and shot itself in the foot quite a bit. That said, the officials certainly did not help. From the Taj Harris fumble in the first quarter to the personal foul on Babers to the fantom holding call on Luke Benson that stalled a drive, it was an awful day for the stripes. The Babers personal foul and the Taj Harris fumble will get the most attention, but the Benson hold was perhaps just as impactful. It was Syracuse's next drive following the Harris fumble. Tucker had just picked up 12 yards to the Rutgers 26 yard line, but it was called back due to a Benson hold. Replay shows that Benson pushed off a defender briefly, but clearly did not hold (see embedded tweet below). Babers was called for a personal foul for arguing a call, which happens every single game by every coach. Schiano the play before screamed at the officials for an extended period of time and stated "make it right" several times. Mike Jones and Dino Babers were called for a personal foul the next play, and Rutgers would score immediately after. Those mistakes cannot happen at this level.