Syracuse vs Louisiana State University Football 2015

SU able to keep up, but fall to #8 LSU

The Tigers' running-back and Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette was the difference maker.

Marshall Street and the Campus Quad were abuzz for college football Saturday. Joining the usual sea of orange was a fleet of purple and gold as thousands of LSU fans made the long trip from Baton Rouge cheer on their Bayou Bengals. You could hear chants of “Let’s Go Orange” or “Geaux Tigers” as the campus transformed into a festival like atmosphere as each contingent huddled together before making their way into the Carrier Dome. The teams hadn't squared off in over 26 years with the last coming at the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl

Leonard Fournette shimmies into the end zone.


The game took on a life that many across the nation probably didn't expect. Being that it was the early game on ESPN, you never know how a 12 o’clock kickoff can play out. The odds-makers were baffled by the fact that the Orange came out looking like a team on mission, trailing only 7-3 at the half. LSU struggled to score most of the game, despite several big plays, and would not open things up until late in the third quarter. The final score reads LSU Tigers 34, Syracuse Orange 24, but the story is hardly indicative of any point spread or scoreboard.


The ‘Cuse defense again proved that it is certainly a unit to be feared in the ACC, as well as the country at large. Yes, current Heisman front runner Leonard Fournette finished the game with 244 yards and two touchdowns, but he would earn every yard he gained. Brandon Harris, LSU quarterback, had a modest line of 157 yards and one touchdown, even though it is not the Tigers agenda to hoist the ball. Syracuse proved that they could defend the pass effectively, holding Harris to just completing 50 percent of his throws. This is significant improvement from prior weeks in which SU had given up 863 yards in the air, and a completion percentage of 66%. They just struggled to force the big turnover and hold on to momentum.


The Orange may have gained a significant amount of respect after this performance, but they want no sympathy whatsoever. Moral victories are not something that his group is lobbying for. You could tell from the coaching staff to every player on the roster, SU wanted this game badly for themselves and also for this region. Head Coach Scott Shafer was happy by the effort, but he appeared deflated after the game.


“I am proud of the kids and their effort,” said Shafer. “But, at the end of the day I want us to be able to make these four quarter games, and I want our fans to expect us to win games at the Dome against these kinds of opponents.”


It is apparent that Syracuse is anxious to be a top program again, and eventually return to the glory days. But, in order to do that you have to have a head coach that demands excellence of his players. Scott Shafer does that. He maintains a positive attitude. However, the SU general wants his troops and the community to believe that this growth period will eventually turn into an expectation of accomplishment. In many ways 'Cuse fans should be thankful for a leader like that, because it translates into a group of players that will find ways to reach goals.


“I think we showed that anyone can be beat on any given day, and I think we came out expecting to play with that attitude,” said defensive captain Zaire Franklin. “We improved on our play, especially in the secondary, but at the end of the day we lost the game so we have a lot of work to do.”


Whether the positives outweigh the negatives for the program or the fan base, it is noteworthy that the Orange are eager to get back to work and prepare for their first road test at South Florida (1-2 overall, American Conf.) in two weeks. The Bulls handily beat FCS opponent, Florida A&M, 51-3 in their opener. But, they lost to both Florida State and Maryland, in which they were doubled up in both games. They will play their first conference foe against Memphis next week before taking on Syracuse.


We can still see the progress that SU makes each week. Zack Mahoney, who began the season as the fifth string quarterback, started his first game rushing for 40 yards, throwing for 154, and finding the end zone three times in the air. Brisly Estime had over 200 yards in the return game and was targeted by Mahoney for a long touchdown of 40 yards. Ben Lewis also emerged at the h-back position with five catches and a touchdown. Even punter Riley Dixon rushed for five yards and a first down on a fake field goal attempt late in the first half.


The defensive unit found players like Antwan Cordy, who had eight tackles and a sack at the safety position, and Chauncey Scissum to help the cause in the secondary. It is examples such as these that continue to breathe new life into the Orange football program. ‘Cuse Nation is excited to see their boys playing at a high level, and hopefully a week off can address the injury concerns of Eric Dungey and Erv Philips.


Emotions and attitude may be low tonight in the Syracuse locker room, but if the ball bounces a different way and a couple big plays were avoided the outcome may have been very different. Another couple of weeks could find the Orange receiving a few votes in the national polls, and that is the respect it deserves going forward.


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