The Syracuse University football team edged the University of Rhode Island, 21-14, Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. The Orange used a career day from senor quarterback Ryan Nassib and a feel-good, game-winning touchdown by senior Michael Acchinoe to squeak out the win, which improves the Orange to 2-0.
Next Saturday, the Syracuse football schedule has the Orange traveling to the west coast to take on the University of Southern California (8 p.m. on FX). However, before SU fans move onto the Trojans lets look at some facts, tidbits and give some opinions on the Orange's Week 2 victory.
- URI had 24 yards of total offense in the first quarter. The Rams ended the first half with 171 total yards, 99 from the ground. (URI finished with 266.)
- During the Rams first touchdown drive in the second quarter, quarterback Steve Probst converted a third and fourth down with his legs. Probst, who ran for 32 yards on the drive, carried the ball nine times for 41 yards in the first half. ("It's a big part of our game," Probst said, "to run the quarterback, and know when everything's covered down field.")
- Ryan Nassib finished the game with a collegiate-best 318-passing yards. The last time a SU quarterback passed for 300-plus yards was in 2009 when Greg Paulus did it in a 37-34 victory over Northwestern. ("Today with them loading the box like they did," Nassib said, "we really had to turn to the passing game. They kept the box loaded. We kept throwing the ball and they kept loading the box. We took advantage of what they gave us and it turned out pretty nice.")
- Nassib, who was 29-of-37 with three TDs, also tied a school record for completions.
- This is the first time the Orange have started a season 2-0 since '99.
- Midway through the first quarter, on SU's second drive of the game, Nassib just missed senior tight end David Stevens on a 32-yard pass, which would have resulted in a early TD. From my vantage point in the press box, it looked like Nassib may have misjudged the speed of Stevens, who seems like he doesn't have a lot.
- On SU's third drive of the game, which came late in the first quarter, Nassib couldn't connect with senior wide receiver Van Chew, but it wasn't his or Chew's fault. While, running down the field Chew seemed to be held multiple times by URI corner back Stanley Dunbar, who actually ran into Chew as the ball was coming into his hands. I have no idea how there wasn't a pass interference call.
- URI's first play of the second quarter, featured sophomore tailback Travis Hurd taking a swing pass from sophomore quarterback Steve Probst. Hurd caught the ball in the backfield and then turned up field where he got into open space. After about 15 yards, Hurd was hit hard by safety Shamarko Thomas, who knocked the helmet off of the 5-foot-8, 180-pound tailback.
- SU players that left the game because of injury: Senior running back Antwon Bailey (returned), senior defensive back Keon Lyn (returned), freshman linebacker Dyshawn Davis (carried off by training staff and taking to locker room in third quarter -- later announced it was because of cramping). After the game, SU head coach Doug Marrone seemed displeased about his players cramping up saying, "That's something we will have to address."
- Earlier in the fourth quarter, after URI drove into SU territory, but was stopped, Probst attempted a punt from the shotgun on fourth-and-12. The kick was a beauty, but the ball landed on its point at about the SU 20-yard line and skipped into the end zone.
- A couple of times, especially during his 26-yard TD run in the second quarter, URI's sophomore running back Travis Hurd reminded me of former Onondaga High School running back Mike Hart.
- I am not sure if SU head coach Doug Marrone is a Jedi or not, but he did one heck of a job spinning SU's sloppy victory over URI into a positive during the post-game press conference. First, Marrone noted that the Orange are not yet good enough to not savor each victory: "I've been in this business long enough when if you walk out of here and you hang your head after a win, you're not going to be in this business for too long." Then, Marrone went on to say that he hopes that the poor play of SU doesn't overshadow how good it is that Acchione caught the game-winning pass: "People focus on some of the negative things, and I can understand that. But sometimes there are great stories out there that get overshadowed because of mistakes. I hope that due to the mistakes in this game that people like Accione and Dom (Anene) get credit for what they played." Wow, I feel better about this win already.
- The troubles of the SU secondary were again in the spotlight Saturday afternoon. As a senior, FCS-cailber quarterback, shredded the Orange defensive backs: "He's got tremendous poise,"URI head coach Joe Trainer said after the game. "He's a good player and I am not going to stroke him for doing what we anticipate him doing every week." Marrone had this to say: "He did hurt us. We ran up the field, got around him. He was able to make some key first downs on some drives, especially when we had some unsportsmanlike penalties. He made some tight throws. That corner route was a heack of a throw. He threaded the needle with a dig right over the middle. We knew he was a very good quarterback."
- Nassib is the real deal, but he and the offense can't do it all. For the second straight week the defense made it tough on the offense giving up over 35.7 percent (5-of-14) on third downs, while last week, it allowed 36.8 percent (7-of-19) -- I would like to know how many were from third-and-eight or more. Also, in two games, the Orange defense has forced just two turnovers -- both came Saturday.
- In a local radio interview Wednesday, I was asked if the Orange would travel to USC and lose by 50 points or 20 points? My answer then was 20. Now? I plead the fifth amendment.
SB Nation New York blogged live Saturday afternoon from the Carrier Dome during Syracuse football's non-conference contest against Rhode Island. Check back to SBN NY for in-game updates, post-game reactions and the most up-to-date news on the Orange. Also, follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY and Jared_E_Smith.