Monday, November 3, 2008

Syracuse Delivers Crushing Blow

Is playing two good games in a row too much to ask?

A week after what was called "Coach Krag's signature win at Louisville" against nationally ranked South Florida, the team showed why they haven't had more similar victories. A 28-21 loss to Big East doormat Syracuse puts the Cards at 5-3 with games against teams a lot better than the Orange left on the schedule. Another couple performances like this and the Kragthorpe-era will have it's own bowl streak. 2 years with no appearances after 9 straight.

The Cards lost another game they should have won Saturday at Syracuse. The same Syracuse team that has beaten a total of 3 D-1 teams in the last 2 years, 2 being against Kragthorpe led teams. The other - Buffalo. This was the same Syracuse team that is last in the Big East in total and scoring offense. And yes, the same Syracuse team that ruined our bowl streak last year at home. Only this time the Cards were only 14 point favorites, not 36.

It's hard to put a finger on what exactly went wrong. Orange RB Curtis Brickley ran for 166 yards and a TD on 33 carries. The defensive line of Louisville was dominated play after play. Turnovers killed the Cards against UK, but in their losses to UCONN and Syracuse the D has given up an average of 180 yards. Linebacker's were getting caught with their pants down. Woodny Turenne's gambles didn't pay off and he got beaten like a drum on multiple occasions. Cardinal wide-out Troy Paschley dropped a sure fire TD which would have tied the game in the fourth quarter.

The list could go on, but it's too depressing to write.

The Cardinal offense looked vanilla as ever with the exception of Victor Anderson, who continued is tear with 112 yards on 23 excitement-filled carries. For some reason, Kragthorpe decided to abandon feeding the ball to Anderson in favor of dump off passes and TE outs. Johnnie Burns...that's right back-up TE Johnnie Burns led the Cards with 4 catches. If Anderson wasn't in the game, the team looked dull. Dropped passes, stupid penalties, and inept decisions - added to the bland play calling - led to the Cards scoring 21 points on a team that gave up close to 35 a game.

"Obviously we didn't make plays. We had a great start and then we sputtered. We have to make plays and that we didn't is on me." Coach Krag said i his post-game news conference.

How are they supposed to make plays when they aren't put in the proper position to be successful? The only creativity used were a couple of reverses to Trent Guy and Doug Beaumont that yielded first downs. Throwing a 2-yard out on 3rd and long to a guy (Burns) who has played TE for 8 games his whole career and runs like Bernie Kosar isn't really favorable towards "play-making". The Cards converted less than half of their 3rd downs again (7-15) and a main reason is the inability to run plays capable of getting first downs. Call me crazy, but I think if you have a 3rd and 8, you might want to throw the ball at least 8 yards. Seems like the logical thing. However, for whatever reason, our play-calling begs to differ. It all boils down to the offense's failure to convert in crucial times, whether it be play-calling or lack of play-making.

"Coming off a big win against South Florida, you have to refocus in and that's something that can be hard. To be honest with you, I think it's good for our team. We got a wake-up call."

That was SENIOR LEADER EARL HEYMAN saying that he needed to refocus after a big win? Why would he need to do that? Shouldn't the coaching staff prepare the players for this very instance? This makes no sense. No wonder we gave up over 200 yards rushing. Our defensive captain and starting DT is saying that the team needed a wake-up call. That's bogus. They beat a decent USF team, not USC. Under previous coaches this was not an issue. It really concerns me that a supposed team leader is having trouble getting up for games. I'm just not sure whether it's a bad refection on Heyman or the coaching staff.

The defense had it's poorest performance of the year. The gambling nature of the English-led unit backfired. Blitzes were unsuccessful putting our DBs in single coverage with no safety help and also giving their QB all day to throw. Linebackers couldn't fill the running lanes. The Syracuse offense was one of the worst in the country and they ran at will on our improved yet shaky defensive line. 28 points is a lot to give up to such a terrible team, but it was manageable. The defense played well. Especially against such a lowly team, the offense needs to put up enough points to win.

The inadequacy of the offense to convert is what is burned into my memory for the time being. This loss isn't the end of the world, I just hope we don't continue this boring play that doesn't allow creative freedom for the athletes on the team. It's embarrassing to get excited about what was called the turning-point of the season last week and then see the same team get pushed around by possibly the worst team of any BCS conference. We'll see if this loss "wakes us up" and causes "play-makers" to make plays.

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