Syracuse Orange face individual success despite team loss

Syracuse Orange lose 33-25 to NC State on Sept. 30; Steve Ishmael among standout players

Each week while players are filling up the stat sheets with personal accolades, the Orange are again forced to celebrate those successes while swallowing another team defeat. After Saturday’s loss to ACC foe NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina, the 2-3 team is still searching for a winning formula that involves more than just a few men.

Photo: Logan LaBo | Technician

Many believed that last week's late-game loss to LSU was caused by bad play calling at the hands of Syracuse Head Coach Dino Babers, but after today some are nailing their suspicions elsewhere. In the postgame conference, Coach Babers and his players agreed that their continued slow starts are a big part of what is sealing more L’s then W’s onto the record sheet.

The Orange have shown their improvement and no one doubts their desire to win, but fans, coaches and players are tired of the moral victories. As they battled NC State’s Wolfpack, the team showed grit from the start to finish of the second half but came up short on the scoreboard losing 33-25. Becoming a “second-half” team is not something that Coach Babers wants and says by doing so they are setting themselves up for the tasks of fighting to victory and climbing out of a hole. 

The Pack earned its 200th win at home yesterday, but not without withstanding some fight from the Orange. Flags flew, bodies were shoved and players exchanged in a rapid-fire match of words I cannot repeat, but in the end coaches and officials were able to regain order. While other stories you read may give you a more detailed description of yesterday’s loss or an analytical list of SU mistakes that caused NC State’s latest triumph, they cast a shadow over some of the greatness taking place.

In yesterday's game alone there is easily enough material to fill up a column about Eric Dungey, Zaire Franklin, Ervin Philips and Steve Ishmael independently. These players’ achievements on the field along with a few others are the bright spots in the darkness of the loss, and should help fans rest assured that a change in the program’s culture is occurring.

These are the numbers that followed Steve Ishmael’s name on the stat sheet yesterday:

  • First in the nation in receiving yards
  • 188 yards on 17 receptions
  • Single game record for most receptions in a game

After talking with the Florida native after the game, his mindset was still all about the team.

Ishmael believes his success on the field this year is thanks to the opportunities presented to him by Coach Babers.

Ishmael gave credit to the coaching staff and their trust in him to perform when called upon as a big part of the confident player we see in games. Although he had a slow start, a quick conversation at halftime about being ready to have the ball in his hands helped to set in motion another great game.

But the success has not given him a "big head" he explained, as he shared what is going through his mind when we see the wide receiver’s arm shoot up with one finger pointed to the sky after a big gain or score. Many assume this is him proclaiming to be number one, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. 

“Oh no, I’m just giving thanks for being out here and being able to play this game," he said.

Emotions swelled as the game went deeper into the final quarter, but Ishmael says him and his guys used it to their advantage.

“Obviously the game was physical and me personally, I felt like the calls weren’t good and everyone was starting to get mad. Fussing with those guys brought us (the offense) closer," he said.

This looks to have been the case, as we saw both Dungey and Philips also have explosive nights.

When it came to discussing what the team needed to do differently, his response again was founded in their need to work as one.

“We just have to put everything out there together, you know. It’s more so whoever is making plays is looking out for the team and we don’t like to get into who's getting the ball. As long as we are making plays we are happy," Ishmael said.

While there is still a lot of football left to be played, Ishmael hopes to continue to play well. However, he said he cares more about the team success then his own.

Credit does deserve to be given to those who earn it and he is one of the few to point to in the season. If the team continues working to match the intensity of those who are doing well, it may inspire them to elevate their games and in the end, everyone’s best may result in more wins.

Photos courtesy of Logan LaBo of Technician.

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