Upon Further Review: Syracuse Analysis

Khaseem Greene

Before all the focus shifts to this week's game against Temple, ScarletReport.com caps its coverage of Rutgers' 23-15 win against Syracuse with an in-depth analysis of what went right, what went wrong and what should not be stressed about from the game.

Watching the game live is one thing, and presents a real-time look at what is happening on the field.

However, pop on the game tape and you may see something different, or further validation of what your eye thought it saw while watching live.

After each Rutgers game, ScarletReport.com will take a look at a slowed-down, rewound version of what took place on the field.

Rutgers beat Syracuse 23-15 behind a strong defensive performance, a few big play on special teams and just enough offense, but so much more took place in the game.

What To Like

  • Rutgers front four got pressure when Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib tried to stay in the pocket and throw down the field. On Ka'Lial Glaud's first sack, he ran a perfect stunt in which he looped under the defensive tackle and had a clear path to the quarterback.

    The pressure also made Nassib uncomfortable on plays in which he was in the pocket and looking to throw the ball past the second of third level of the defense.

  • Rutgers' ability to hang with the fast pace of Syracuse's offense. The Orange go no huddle and try to push the tempo, but the Scarlet Knights' defense was quick to react and change personnel. There was only one or two times the defense wasn't set, but it was more a matter of the front seven shifting before the snap rather than hurrying to get in position.

    Khaseem Greene
  • Nose guard Scott Vallone was disruptive in the running game and also played sideline-to-sideline to make plays. His effort and energy level was high, and it showed when he made a tackle along the Syracuse sideline in the first half after running down the line of scrimmage to get there.

  • The savvy play of Khaseem Greene continued, and it went well beyond his three forced fumbles and interception. Greene registered a sack on a masterful blitz in which he delayed for a moment. Greene is always accounted for on the field, and in this instance it looked like he would remain in coverage.

    Instead, Greene waited a moment and then came in untouched to get to Nassib.

  • Cornerback Logan Ryan was again very good in run support. He was able to shed blocks and make tackles 1-on-1, and also had a huge play on a third-and-goal from the 2-yard in the fourth quarter when he read run and darted in from the left side and made a tackle for a loss.

  • The play of the special teams was excellent, sans the missed extra point and Greene's personal foul penalty. Coverage was sensational, and the special teams capped its day with the blocked field goal and return for a touchdown.

    It also speaks to preparation and recognition since Jamal Merrell broke through the line of scrimmage and blocked the field goal in nearly the same vain as he did a year ago. He was able to twist his body to get past the blocker and then square up and locate the kicker and get his hands in the air.

    What To Work On

  • The loss of Michael Burton has put all the fullback responsibility on tight end Paul Carrezola. Rutgers tried to spell him with Sam Bergen, and there was a perfectly set up third down screen pass to Jawan Jamison coming out of Rutgers' end zone. However, Bergen missed badly on the block and the Scarlet Knights had to punt.

    Jawan Jamison
  • Rutgers' offensive line struggled with the quickness of strength of Syracuse's defensive line and the speed of the linebackers.

    This was the best defense the Scarlet Knights played and it showed in how many times one of Rutgers' offensive linemen either couldn't get to the second level quick enough to make a block, or was beaten at the line of scrimmage.

  • There was a soft spot underneath Rutgers' defense, and Nassib exploited it time and again. The Scarlet Knights' linebackers had trouble in coverage, be it against the tight end of picking up the running back out of the backfield.

    Either Nassib beat the blitz with a quick dump off over the middle, or the linebackers dropped too deep, or they simply had trouble keeping tight coverage. It was a combination of all those things that allowed Syracuse to control the ball via the short pass.

  • One of the reasons Rutgers took only a few shots down the field in the passing game was the pressure Syracuse was getting on quarterback Gary Nova. Even on the dropped pass by Mark Harrison, Nova was under pressure and hit after he threw it. There was also a deep pass to Brandon Coleman that was thrown early because of the pressure Nova was getting in the pocket.

  • Nova's accuracy. He didn't have a wild miss, but there were a few throws that could have aided the offense's cause. He threw on the outside shoulder of Coleman on a deep pass down the left hash mark and also threw over Coleman's head in the end zone when the pass was wide open on the inside. Nova also sailed a ball over tight end D.C. Jefferson in the end zone.

  • Jamison didn't look as light on his feet as in previous weeks and there are question of whether the amount of carries are taking a toll. But part of the running game struggles falls to Syracuse's tackling. The Orange did a tremendous job of getting Rutgers' ball carriers down on first contact.

    Gary Nova
    Not To Worry

  • The conservative play-calling in the second half, particularly after Rutgers moved ahead on the blocked field goal early in the second half. In fact, Rutgers threw the ball on six of the first 13 first downs it had, but went to the running game to run the clock once the middle of the third quarter hit.

    In all, Rutgers ran the ball 15 times on 23 first-down plays.

    Keeping Perspective

    Betim Bujari
  • Syracuse had the best defense Rutgers faced this season, with the front seven fast and physical and the safeties willing and eager to stop the run. The Orange's defensive line was more physical than the Scarlet Knights' offensive line, and it showed in a running game that couldn't wear down Syracuse's defense.

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