ATLANTA — Scott Shafer squirmed when he heard the question. His left leg wrapped around his right. His black Nike shoe pointed to the right as he looked directly at the Georgia Tech reporter.
The question was, in a nutshell, what did Georgia Tech do defensively to slow Syracuse down?
“They did a multitude of things. They changed it up,” Shafer said. “It’s pretty simple to me what happened. They did a great job of beating us early, made us one-dimensional.”
On an afternoon when the Orange’s defense struggled mightily against the perplexing triple option, its offense was just as dismal. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) failed to score against Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-2) at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, falling 56-0 in front of 45,704. Syracuse’s run game was stagnant, its passing game was inconsistent and Drew Allen even entered the game in the second half.
“After a game like this, you just want to flush it down the drain and go back to work,” Syracuse center Macky MacPherson said.
Riley Dixon totaled 325 yards punting. The Syracuse offense finished with 208 yards from scrimmage.
Dixon punted seven times. Terrel Hunt had seven completions. Allen six.
Dixon punted inside the 20 twice. Syracuse entered Georgia Tech territory twice. It never made it into the red zone.
The only time Syracuse came close to the red zone was in the first quarter. A Jerome Smith run and Christopher Clark reception set up a first-and-10 at the Georgia Tech 22.
But then a false start penalty on Rob Trudo pushed SU back to the 27. Two plays later, Hunt gained 11 yards on the ground, but Syracuse back-up center Jason Emerich was whistled for holding.
Emerich temporarily replaced MacPherson in the second quarter when the SU starter suffered an upper-body injury. His costly mistake sent the Orange into retreat once again.
On the next play, Quayshawn Nealy read Hunt’s throw up the middle beautifully. Nealy tipped the ball to himself, corralled it and squelched the only momentum Syracuse had all game.
“I think they just did a very good job of scheming up things against us,” MacPherson said. “They played physical, their linebackers hit hard, their safeties came down and made some plays.”
Just as he was against Clemson and North Carolina State, Hunt was rendered to scrambling and making plays with his feet. The offensive line gave him no protection, and he spent nearly as much time trying not to lose yards as he did trying to gain them.
In the second half, the player Syracuse fans have grown to associate with the word “interception” entered the game. And on his second pass, Allen did just that.
When the interception came, Allen threw up his hands in disgust.
Earlier this week, quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said no job is ever safe by a country mile, but Shafer indicated after the game that it’s still Hunt’s job. Allen was even worse.
“If they thought that Drew was going to give them a better shot, so be it,” Hunt said. “You just support.”
The game was already well out of hand by that point, though. Syracuse trailed 35-0 and was unable to muster up any semblance of an offense. SU finished 3-of-12 on third down and committed nine penalties for a loss of 91 yards.
On the flip side, Georgia Tech didn’t face a third down until the second quarter. Its offense was that electric. And it didn’t commit a penalty during the entire game.
“We need to solidify and clean up the penalties,” Shafer said. “Those are the things that we need to do a better job controlling.”
In Syracuse’s second full drive of the fourth quarter, with the game well, well out of reach, Alex Schoen committed a penalty to halt yet another Orange drive.
It didn’t matter at that point, but it summed up the night for the Syracuse offense. Penalties, incompletions and interceptions galore.
Said Hunt: “We just shot ourselves in the foot a lot of the time.”
Published on October 19, 2013 at 10:16 pm
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