Bye bye Bulls

The Orange got off to its best start since 1999 with a win over USF.

Doug Marrone was in tears.

Syracuse’s head coach could not fight his emotions in his address to the media after the Orange won its Big East opener 13-9 at South Florida. It was a milestone win for Marrone, the players and the SU program.

The Orange held USF quarterback B.J. Daniels in check, and leaned heavily on its defense to prevail over a strong Bulls team, a feat that has was not accomplished since the Bulls joined the Big East Conference in 2005. The win was SU's first victory in its conference opener since 2007. The Orange win propelled the team to the top of the Big East standings with a 4-1 record, while the Bulls fell into the middle of the pack at 3-2.

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Behnken / The Tampa Tribune
Da'Mon Merkerson intercepts a pass intended for USF's Dontavia Bogan on the Bulls' opening drive Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.

The big story of the game was the Syracuse defense, which neutralized one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the conference with clever blitz schemes and a strong showing from its defensive backs. The defense recorded four sacks, and held the usually potent Daniels to -1 yard on 13 attempts on the ground.  Through the air, Daniels was 9-23 for 124 yards and two interceptions. Daniels and the Bulls offense had trouble driving against the SU defense, which was firing on all cylinders right from the get-go. Orange freshman Marquis Spruill made a solid open-field tackle on USF's first possession, and Da’mon Merkerson intercepted Daniels a few plays later.

The offense showed signs of long-drive capability that has not been evident in the past few seasons. After Syracuse was pinned on its own two yard line by a USF punt, Antwon Bailey helped rush the offense out of the shadow of its own goalpost and down the field for a 15-play, 98-yard touchdown drive.

On the drive, the Orange pounded the ball up the middle to free up Ryan Nassib and the passing game. Midway through the drive, Bailey broke off a 31-yard run up the left sideline putting Syracuse in great field position. Syracuse capped its sole touchdown drive with a pass from Nassib to junior Marcus Sales. It was Sales’ first catch of the season after he moved up the depth chart due to the loss of senior wide receiver Aaron Weaver to injury.

The Orange ground attack posted a strong statistical game, but didn’t really get going until the second half. Carter finished with his second 100-yard game, compiling 105 yards on 26 carries. Bailey finished with 81 yards on nine carries, and 48 yards on three receptions.


SU's Keon Lyn and Malcom Cater try to stop University of South Florida's Lindsey Lamar during a kick return during the 1st quarter Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo: Courtsey of Jason Behnken / The Tampa Tribune)

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.