Dome disappointment

The Orange finished off its conference season with a 23-6 home loss to the disappointment of the Carrier Dome crowd.

Syracuse University football has been rejuvenated this year no doubt. The clinching of bowl eligibility is proof. But as much as this team has improved, last night’s offensively stagnant 23-6 loss to the Connecticut Huskies at the Carrier Dome showed how much room for improvement there is.

Home may be where the heart is, but it certainly has not been sweet for the Orange this season. They will go winless against Big East foes at home. Their only home wins came against Maine and Colgate (Football Championship Subdivision teams). The loss also put SU out of Big East title contention and a possible BCS bowl game. The loss showed another trend; the tendency to have let downs after emotional wins.

"It’s frustrating. You always want to win at home. I don’t think we were flat at all. We just didn’t capitalize.” -Doug Hogue

Head coach Doug Marrone has been preaching on keeping emotions leveled.  According to him, this was not the issue.

“Absolutely not,” Marrone said when asked if his team lacked focus. “We just didn’t execute. I would say it’s my fault. If anything comes from the execution, it will be my fault. I told the kids keep your head up.”

Antwon Bailey shared the same sentiments.

“I can’t think of any better way to put it,” Bailey said. “We just didn’t execute. We weren’t emotionally drained at all. I don’t think focus is the problem. We had a great practice all week.”

After SU’s first drive stalled at UCONN’s 46-yard line, the Huskies struck first, using a heavy dosage of Jordan Todman. Out of their first 12 plays, Todman carried the ball seven times before rumbling in from one-yard out for a 7-0 lead. The junior running back was first in the Big East and second in the nation with 147 rushing yards per game. He finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.

The frustration on offense for SU only progressed. Ryan Nassib connecting with Alec Lemon for 12 yards on third and eight gave life to SU’s second drive. They drove all the way to UCONN’s 25-yard line but had to settle for a 42-yard field goal from Ross Krautman.

Both teams struggled to find the end zone in the second stanza. Nassib’s pass to Nick Provo bounced off his pads and into the hands of defensive tackle Kendall Reyes. The Huskies turned this into a 35-yard field goal by Dave Teggart to head into the half with a 10-3 lead.

During the opening minutes of the third quarter, SU had a chance to gain some momentum after Brandon Sharpe forced punt returner Nick Williams to fumble. This gave the Orange the ball at the 31-yard line. Once more, the offense folded, only having another Krautman field goal, this time for 35-yards.

The game’s turning point came on SU’s next drive. Starting out at the 9-yard line, Nassib was sacked by Reyes before fumbling, giving UCONN the ball right near the goal line. Todman easily ran in for a 2-yard score to give Connecticut the lead for good at 17-6.

Looking back on the fumble, Nassib said he was trying to do too much. The junior quarterback finished the night with 171 yards, completing 20 of his 36 attempts. He was sacked four times.

“It was a big mistake on my part,” he said. “It was the turning point of the game. It’s a good learning experience for me. I mean we just weren’t making plays when we needed. Just gotta start playing better, especially on my part.”

UCONN finished the night’s scoring with 35-yard and 21-yard field goals by Teggart, with the SU faithful seemingly leaving in unison after the last score signaled the end of any comeback hopes.

The Huskies came into the Dome with the worst total defense in the conference, giving up 364 yards per game. They limited the Orange to 235 yards. It was no secret that UCONN’s bread and butter is the running game and it showed with their 156 total yards on the ground.

Marrone said this loss is no different than any other one.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” he said. “I think the defense did a nice job of keeping us in the game. We gotta get ready to finish at home.”

Linebacker Doug Hougue tied with safety Mike Holmes for the team lead in tackles with eight. He thinks both sides of the ball lacked in execution.

“We missed a lot of opportunities out there,” he said. “It’s frustrating. You always want to win at home. I don’t think we were flat at all. We just didn’t capitalize.”

SU will try to get a seemingly elusive home win next week against ACC member Boston College, making it a memorable Dome finale for the seniors. After that, they will find out when and where they will play a bowl game for the first time since 2004. SU lost to Georgia Tech 51-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl.

“You always wanna go out with a win,” senior defensive tackle Andrew Lewis said. “That’s on every senior’s mind. Hopefully we can get our first win against a DI (Football Bowl Subdivision) team in the Dome.”

SU players set marks.

A trio of players set personal performance marks. Krautman made a field goal for the 16th straight game.

Junior wide out Marcus Sales led the team in receptions in the second consecutive game with six catches for 57-yards.

Senior running back Delone Carter rushed for a team high 67-yards on 19 carries. He moved to number four on the all-time career rushing list. 

small mistake

I noticed that you write "UCONN" in all caps. Just wanted to point out that it should be written as "UConn" because it stands for the University of Connecticut. A simple search on the UConn website, or any reliable article will back me up on that. Otherwise, it is a good article, but it was so distracting to see it the wrong way.

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