After a disappointing 27-21 loss to the Clemson Tigers down in Death Valley, the Syracuse Orange were heavily favored to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Unfortunately for the Orange, the Irish had more fight in them than anticipated and controlled the game from start to finish winning 41-24 at the JMA Wireless Dome. Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s action:
Evident in both the film and the stat sheet, the Syracuse Orange defense had trouble stopping the run. Time and time again Notre Dame running back Audric Estime ran up the gut for big gains against the Orange defense, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Estime finished the game with 123 yards on 20 carries with two rushing touchdowns. Their other running back Logan Diggs averaged 4.3 yards per carry and also ran the ball 20 times, finishing with 85 yards and one rushing touchdown.
On the first play of the game, Garrett Shrader threw an interception to Notre Dame defensive back Brandon Joseph on a pass intended for Oronde Gadsden that ended in a pick-six. That opening drive set the tone for the Fighting Irish as they held Garrett Shrader to five completions on 14 pass attempts and 35 passing yards before he was taken out of the game. The Fighting Irish defense also kept Syracuse running back Sean Tucker in check as he was held to 60 yards on 16 carries.
In the second half, the Syracuse Orange subbed in redshirt freshman Carlos Del Rio-Wilson for Garrett Shrader. The redshirt freshman looked comfortable in the pocket and made some big plays with both his arm and his legs. Despite an interception, a few dropped passes, and a couple of ill-advised throws, Del Rio-Wilson gave the offense new life. Del Rio-Wilson finished the game with 190 passing yards on 11 completions.
Syracuse head coach Dino Babers elaborated on his decision to sub out Garrett Shrader.
“I’ve watched things that happened to the Michigan quarterback (Shane Morris) years back,” said Babers.
“ I was watching him and you could see that from the sideline. I watched the things that have happened with Tua (Tagovailoa) and the Miami Dolphins and I’m like ‘woah.’ But I just didn’t feel like he could protect himself. He’s a fighter. He wanted to be out there. He did not want to come out of the game. But watching the first half, he just didn’t have all the tools in the toolbox. I didn’t think it was fair to have him out there with all those athletes, archers trying to get him in their sights. It didn’t seem like it was fair to me,” Babers said.
However, Babers made it clear that despite the encouraging performance of Del Rio-Wilson, Shrader is still the starting quarterback moving forward.
“There isn’t a quarterback controversy. When Shrader is healthy, Shrader will go,” Babers said.
On November 5th, the Orange will look to rebound against the 4-4 Pittsburgh Panthers at Acrisure Stadium. The game will kick off at 3:30 PM ET.