The Syracuse University football program had a hard time stopping the University of Southern California's passing attack Saturday night, and those struggles led to a 38-17 non-conference loss at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Junior quarterback Matt Barkley tossed for 326 yards and five touchdowns, all to different receivers, for the Trojans, who dropped the Orange to 2-1.
Next Saturday at noon, Syracuse hosts the University of Toledo at the Carrier Dome. However, before SU's Week 4 contest let's look at some fact, tidbits and give some opinions on the Orange's loss to the Trojans.
- Syracuse's opening drive, which led to a 23-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Ross Krautman, senior quarterback Ryan Nassib was a perfect 8-for-8 passing with 55 yards. Thirty-four of those yards went to senior running back Antwon Bailey, who caught four passes, including a 20-yarder that moved SU to USC's 28-yard line.
- On the Trojans' first possession of the game, SU had USC backed up to its own 25-yard line and facing a 2nd-and-19, however, a screen pass that was short of the markers turned into 15 yards and a first down after junior defensive end Brandon Sharpe was called for a personal foul late-hit penalty on USC's sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods. From there, the Trojans finished a 12-play, 66 yard drive to take 7-3 lead.
- After two possession, SU was 4-for-5 on third downs. Syracuse entered the half 4-of-8 and finished the game 8-of-15 (53.3).
- After two SU possession, Nassib was 11-of-12 passing for 74 yards (four passes converted third down conversions). Nassib finished the game 25-of-37 (67.6 percent) with 230 yards and a TD.
- Syracuse defense, which entered the game allowing opponents to convert 36.3 percent of its third downs, was again horrible in this situation. At halftime, USC had converted 4-of-6 (66.6) third downs and ended the game 10-of-14 (71.4).
- On the Orange's third possession of the game, SU faced a 3-and-7 from its own 28-yard line. From the shotgun, Nassib was able to move away from pressure and fire a strike to senior wide receiver Alec Lemon, who dropped the attended passes. USC scored on its next possession and took a 14-3 lead.
- SU players who left the field because of injury: senior defensive tackle Deon Goggins (left under own power, returned), sophomore saftey Shamarko Thomas (left hamstring injury, did not return) and sophomore corner back Keon Lyn (cramps, did not see him return).
- Most of my Saturday was spent trying to piece together the Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference story. So, in cased your missed it here's my piece: Syracuse University To ACC: What Happened And What's Next?
- If we're being honest, more positives came out of this loss than did the two previous victories over the University of Wake Forest and University of Rhode Island. Despite only scoring 17 points, the offense started off steady with a field-goal drive on its first possession and at times moved the ball very well. SU fans are also seeing Nassib morphing into a stud. Come Big East play, this offense is going to be very good and Nassib will be battling University of West Virginia's quarterback Geno Smith for Quarterback Of The Year honors.
- As expected, the USC passing attack shredded SU's secondary (326-passing yards and five TDs). However, I was impressed how well the defensive line and line backers just flew to the ball. Senior defensive tackle Deon Goggins was seen on a few nice plays, while senior defensive end Mikhail Marinovich collected a deflective pass on a nice third-down stop late in the third quarter. There were a lot of big hits and near forced fumbles. Unfortunately, none of them led to the big play which SU needed to pull of the upset.
- All-in-all, the loss to Southern Cal. was what we all thought it was going to be. If the Orange didn't make any big plays on the defensive end or special teams then it was going to be very difficult for SU to keep up with the more talented Trojans, especially on the road. Next week, it's back to the East Coast were the Syracuse football schedule features the University of Toledo, a much better match up for the Orange.