1. The respective offensive lines were the difference in the game. We ran it well with Kendial Lawrence. But, so many fits and starts. So many negative plays--negative yardage runs, multiple sacks while rushing three and dropping eight--kept us chasing the chains even when we got explosive plays. (This was also a flag-heavy crew. Not especially biased, just lots of flags.) My heart goes out to the offensive line. Although it has improved enough to allow us to see more explosive plays we still can't get consistency. Even our best offensive performances this season have been filled with fits and starts. This was a game where we needed consistency. We just couldn't find it. One area you REALLY have to credit Syracuse for superior play is in coverage. That was supposed to be a huge advantage, especially with Marcus Murphy playing, and it just wasn't.
2. Sometimes there's not much you can do with a hot, experienced QB. Ryan Nassib to Alec Lemon (against Randy Ponder) was a matchup that virtually always worked. Nassib put it on the money and Lemon caught pretty much everything that came his way. When we pressed their receivers they ran crossing routes and rubs. When we played off they got easy completions and big runs after catch. It's easy to blame Ponder (he was NOT good), but we couldn't pressure Nassib because you really can't pressure some QBs. Syracuse dictated matchups with formation and Nassib never missed a trick with all our shifting and whatnot. He always put his receivers where they needed to be. He got the ball out of his hands. He hit the hot read. They ran just enough to make us respect it. Nassib really never missed an open throw. Did we miss Sheldon Richardson? Hell yes, we missed him. A guy like that can always make a play. I'm just not sure that's why we lost.
One more shot at this in College Station. We've done it before.