Down 35-13 and issues with the offensive line and consistent running attack, head coach Doug Marrone had to think of something quick. If not a blowout loss would happen at home to the chagrin of the home fans and be a poor indicator for future games. Though Syracuse suffered a loss after a terrific comeback there are positives to take away from the game.
Ryan Nassib struggled for portions of the game. Issues prevalent a year ago with how pressure affects the offensive line was apparent. Nassib’s pocket was collapsing so quick that a lot of football were ending up on the Carrier Dome turf. The speed of the pass rush had to be offset, and Marrone decided the only way to do it was push the tempo.
With the tempo increased Nassib took advantage of a poor Northwestern secondary and with each of his 45 completions, the team kept hurrying to the line of scrimmage. It not only saved time on the clock but it kept Northwestern defenders on their heels.
Throwing sixty six throws is not something that can lead to success every week. Syracuse does not have the offensive fire power to do so against stronger defensive teams. For a week though it was great to see Ryan Nassib’s maturation in one game. He did not let the team being down affect him. Each touchdown leading drive the team seemed to respond stronger defensively and offensively.
A bright side to the passing game was senior Marcus Sales and Jeremiah Kobena. Sales caught twelve of Nassib’s forty five completions including a grab in between a couple defenders for forty one yards. Freshman Ashton Broyld contributed as well. With Alec Lemon likely returning soon, the Orange do have many weapons at their disposal in the passing game.
One strength does not offset all weaknesses. Syracuse needs the offensive line to develop camaraderie. Protection needs to be better especially for the amount of drop back throws Nassib will likely have each week. As close as this game ended up, turnovers (3) were a deciding matter in the game. It’s going to take Syracuse flawless games in the turnover department to pull out these type of games.
Prince Tyson-Gulley was relegated to an all purpose back against Northwestern. His touches were minimal seven rushing and seven catching, but he made the most of them. Totaling near 100 yards combined. He had a nice run in the first half for a touchdown to give Syracuse a 13-7 lead. That would be the last touchdown Syracuse scored before giving up twenty eight straight to Northwestern.
Syracuse has a history in the Doug Marrone era of playing some awful quarters and than springing back to life. The game against West Virginia a season ago was one game that everything clicked on all cylinders. Nassib and Marcus Sales are both fifth year seniors that need to ensure the lulls stop.
Nassib has a solid arsenal of throws to get defenses off balance, even with a spotty offensive line. His jump ball quick throw to the tight end seems to be an offset to the defensive pass rush.
If Nassib can stay healthy he may break more than single game records. Hits come with pass attempts and Nassib seemed to be rattled after one throw in the first half. The hit seemed to have came right in his abdomen area. After staying down for a few minutes he was able to shake it off. With the way he performed, opposing coaches are going to want to knock Nassib around each chance the team gets.
Protection will be key to the rest of the season for the Orange, and Nassib.