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|Posted on September 17, 2017 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
At Week 2 of the 2017-18 NFL season, the Jacksonville Jaguars were already facing their second divisional rival with the Tennessee Titans coming to Duval county for the Jaguars' home-opener following the Jaguars' road win against the Houston Texans, 29-7, in Week 1.
The first half of this match-up was very quiet on the scoreboard, with neither team getting into glory territory.
Instead, the Jaguars and Titans traded field goals within less than a minute from each other in the first quarter, with Jacksonville placekicker Jason Myers connecting from 43 yards away followed by Tennessee placekicker Ryan Succop's response from 40 yards out.
Then, neither team would put a single point on the scoreboard until Succop booted his second try of the game through the uprights from 41 yards away as time expired on the first half.
The Jaguars' defense stole an opportunity from the Titans when linebacker Telvin Smith intercepted quarterback Marcus Mariota at the Jaguars' 14-yard line, but that opportunity would be given right back to the Titans when defensive back Curtis Riley intercepted quarterback Blake Bortles at the Titans' 39-yard line.
Riley's interception gave Tennessee the drive that concluded with Succop's second field goal of the game.
Jacksonville came out of the break with more offensive woes when Bortles threw his second interception on the team's opening second-half drive on a pass intended for wide receiver Marqise Lee that instead ended up in the hands of Tennessee safety Da'Norris Searcy.
As with the first Titans' interception, the team would capitalize on their takeaway by gaining points, when Succop made his third field goal of the game, this one from 26 yards away to take a 9-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Less than three minutes later, Titans' running back Derrick Henry scored the first touchdown for either side in the game, 38 minutes and 24 seconds into the game, on a 17-yard carry, moving the Titans ahead 16-3.
Not even four minutes later, Tennessee reached the endzone again, with yet another rush, this coming from tight end Delanie Walker from one yard out to expand the Titans' lead to 20, ahead 23-3 with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Rookie tight end Jonnu Smith would follow his mentor into the endzone in the fourth quarter with 9:57 left to play in the game for the first touchdown of his National Football League (NFL) career on a 32-yard reception play, moving Tennessee up to a 30-3 advantage.
With 7:12 left to play in the game, Jacksonville scored their first touchdown of the contest when rookie running back Leonard Fournette went dead center on the carry for a one-yard touchdown run to make it 30-9, marking his second score of the season; Fournette now has a touchdown per game in his first two games in the NFL.
The two-point conversion pass attempt from Bortles in the direction of wide receiver Allen Hurns fell incomplete and the Titans came right back to score once again when fullback Jalston Fowler attained his second touchdown of his NFL career, now in his third season out of Alabama, providing a 37-9 lead with 4:14 to go.
After not scoring a touchdown for the first three quarters and change, the Jaguars scored on back-to-back drives when wide receiver Allen Hurns took it home on a seven-yard reception play to follow Fournette's previous score, making it 37-16 with 2:11 to play in the contest.
Though Jacksonville finally answered after allowing 30 unanswered points to Tennessee, it was too little, too late in the game, and the Jaguars would take the loss in their home-opener to go to 1-1 on the season as well as inside the AFC South division.
|Posted on September 16, 2017 at 7:15 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
A game ago, the Syracuse Orange football team never held the momentum once in 60 minutes over four quarters at home versus the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.
That bad taste was still on the mouths of the Orange when they opened the doors to the Central Michigan Chippewas, as the Orange rolled into the Carrier Dome at 1-1 on the season.
Syracuse wasted no time scoring, going for a 30-yard touchdown on the ground on their opening drive of the game.
Well, they did... but they didn't.
Orange junior running back Dontae Strickland's 30-yard touchdown run was called back due to a holding penalty.
Syracuse did end the drive with points, however, when senior placekicker Cole Murphy booted the ball through the uprights from 41 yards away to give the Orange the first lead of the game, 3-0.
The Orange defense would force the Chippewas to punt on both of their first two offensive drives of the game and sophomore punt returner Sean Riley fielded the ball to put Syracuse in better positioning offensively.
Thus, all three phases of the game appeared to be going in favor of the Orange early on.
Then, the blunders began to roll in for the Orange, with Syracuse true freshman running back Markenzy Pierre fumbling the ball after Syracuse was granted good field positioning at their own 48-yard line by Riley. Central Michigan would capitalize on Syracuse's fumble when Central Michigan senior quarterback Shane Morris threw down the left sideline to sophomore wide receiver Cameron Cole who gained a new set of downs on third down and then went even further when two Syracuse defenders were lost in communication and negated one another, resulting in a 56-yard touchdown reception play by Cole. That play gave the Chippewas their first lead of the game, 7-3.
On Syracuse's very next possession, the ball ricocheted off a potential Syracuse receiver after a pass attempt by junior quarterback Eric Dungey and was intercepted by junior linebacker Alex Briones who put his hand out to catch the ball while low to the ground.
Central Michigan would capitalize on this Syracuse turnover as well, when senior placekicker Michael Armstrong connected on a 30-yarder with 2:33 left in the first quarter, to extend Central Michigan's lead to seven, 10-3.
The Orange would fail to get movement on their offense on the following drive, punting the ball back to the Chippewas with 1:23 left on the first-quarter clock.
But on Central Michigan's first play of that drive, Morris would be intercepted by Syracuse sophomore safety Evan Foster at Central Michigan's 24-yard line and dart all the way forward and into the endzone for a pick six, evening the score at 10 apiece after Murphy connected on his first extra-point attempt of the game.
Both teams would go relatively quiet to open the second quarter before the Chippewas chipped away at the clock, gaining five first downs on their second drive of the second quarter. What would have been the sixth first down allowed by the Orange on this drive alone ended up being a 17-yard touchdown catch and run for the Chippewas' leading rusher coming into this game, sophomore Jonathan Ward, giving the lead back to the Chippewas 17-10 with 7:52 remaining before the break.
Riley ran like he took that personal, taking his kick return attempt 64 yards to the Central Michigan 32-yard line.
On 4th-&-1, Dungey would keep this drive going, calling his own number for the quarterback keeper.
Dungey would then look straight and turn to his left where Strickland was wide open and waiting. Strickland received the ball, faced the Chippewas' defense, made a move, & ran into the endzone for an 18-yard touchdown catch-and-run, getting on the board with a score after his first-quarter run was taken away. Murphy would kick the ball right at the right goal-post and rattle the entire goal-post, as the ball fell in between the uprights to tie the game again, this time at 17-17, with 5:20 to play before half.
After allowing Central Michigan back into their territory for the second straight drive, Syracuse took all of Central Michigan's gains away when redshirt-sophomore cornerback Christopher Fredrick intercepted Morris' pass attempt on the Syracuse 24 and went 23 yards to the Syracuse 47 to set up the offense by midfield.
On the first play of this drive, Dungey rolled out right and continued to look downfield, never giving up on the play, tossing it downfield to Riley who had gotten in front of single coverage and received the ball for a 44-yard gain to the Chippewas' nine-yard line.
Strickland attained his second touchdown of the game and in as many drives on the very next play, rushing forward for the remaining nine yards to give the lead back to the Orange, at 24-17 with 2:09 before the break, which they would take into halftime.
On the opening drive of the second half, which was in the hands of Central Michigan, Syracuse redshirt-senior free safety Jordan Martin was flagged for targeting, but, after review, the targeting call was overturned, keeping Martin eligible for the game.
Syracuse's defense to end Central Michigan's first drive of the second half, and the offense of the Orange would get rolling real quick. Sophomore running back Moe Neal broke through the middle into the open field for a 71-yard gain just a play after Dungey eluded a potential safety. Shortly after, senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael would reel in a 17-yard reception play to put the Orange on the Chippewas' one-yard line. Dungey called hike before you even knew the ball was picked up, and crossed the goal line on a quarterback keeper to elevate the Orange to their largest lead of the game, 31-17, less than three minutes into the third quarter.
On the second drive of the third quarter for the Orange, Ishmael received the ball, appeared to be going down but stayed up, gaining 29 yards. But on the way to the ground, Ishmael lost the handle, fumbling into the open field. Chippewas' sophomore cornerback Sean Bunting forced the fumble and teammate, junior defensive tackle Nate Brisson-Fast, recovered the ball in the endzone, taking the Orange from a potential touchdown to instead, a loss of downs.
The Orange defense responded by forcing the Chippewas to punt and then it took the offense a mere two plays to reach the endzone for their fourth time, when junior tight end Ravian Pierce caught a pass over the middle and over his defender for a six-yard score that followed Dungey's 74-yard run, the longest of his 2+ year career at Syracuse.
Syracuse would begin their next drive of the third quarter at their own 28-yard line. On the first play of this drive, Riley would come around to take the handoff from Dungey and then sprint ahead 41 yards to the Central Michigan 31-yard line.
Immediately after, Ishmael would grab the reception and hold onto this one, with three Chippewa players having to work together to take him to the ground, for a 22-yard gain.
The drive would conclude on Murphy's 25-yard field goal make that rose the Orange to a 41-17 advantage late in the third quarter.
It seemed as if Central Michigan would break their second-half drought when sophomore running back Romello Ross carried the ball from five yards out. But, after officials ruled the play a touchdown they went back and reviewed it, seeing that Ross lost control and fumbled the ball before crossing the threshold of the endzone, turning a Chippewa score into an Orange touchback.
With just shy of 6:40 to play, backup quarterback Zack Mahoney came into the game to relieve Dungey.
Dungey came into this game with three passing touchdowns to one interception, to go with three rushing touchdowns. He had 508 passing yards and 104 rushing yards through two games. Dungey ended this match-up with 279 passing yards, 25 yards higher than his average of 254 passing yards over the first two games. He threw two touchdowns to one interception and gained another rushing touchdown on the season, carrying the ball for more yards (105) than he did in the first two games combined (104).
Riley finished this contest with four receptions for 82 yards, four carries for 47 yards, two kick returns for 98 yards, and three punt returns for 20 yards to give him 247 all-purpose yards against Central Michigan over four quarters.
The Orange defense forced 10 punts in the game, intercepted Morris twice, including one for a touchdown, and prevented a single point in the second half.
Syracuse gets back to a winning record at 2-1, all games being played at home.
They hit the road for a 7pm or 7:30pm ET match-up with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, September 23rd.
|Posted on September 15, 2017 at 11:15 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange football squad's third game of the 2017 season pits them against the visiting Central Michigan Chippewas.
Syracuse has had Central Michigan on their schedule for two of the past three seasons, defeating them 40-3 on the road in 2014 and 30-27 (OT) at home in 2015.
This will be Orange head coach Dino Babers' first contest against the Chippewas as the leader of Syracuse's football program, and as a head coach in general.
Take a look at the analysis below to get a better feel for Syracuse's upcoming foe:
Senior quarterback Shane Morris elevated his completion percentage from Game 1 to Game 2 of this season, going from 51% in a three-overtime victory against the Rhode Island Rams to 75.7% in a win over the Kansas Jayhawks. Morris attempted 12 less passes versus Kansas than he did against Rhode Island (37 vs. Kansas to 49 vs. Rhode Island) and completed more (28 vs. Kansas to 25 vs. Rhode Island), achieving more with less attempts.
He also more than doubled his passing yards from Week 1 to Week 2, attaining 467 passing yards in Week 2 after 226 passing yards in Week 1.
As a third note of improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, Morris went from one passing touchdown and one interception in Week 1 to five passing touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2.
Morris offers a dual threat for the Chippewas, rushing for at least seven times in both of the team's first two games of this season, gaining 32 yards on seven carries in Week 1 and 32 yards on eight carries in Week 2, meaning that he has averaged at least four yards per carry early in the 2017 season.
Four running backs have carried the ball for Central Michigan over the first two games of this season, with sophomore running back Jonathan Ward leading the back in yardage in both of the team's first two games. Ward gained 147 yards on 19 carries (7.7 yards per carry), including one rushing touchdown in Week 1, following with 58 yards on 11 carries in Week 2, both team highs for the respective games.
Senior running back Devon Spalding led the team in carries in Week 1 with 20 but had less than half the following week, with seven,
Despite taking 20 carries for 70 yards in Week 1 (3.5 yards per carry), then falling to seven carries for eight yards in Week 2 (1.1 yards per carry), Spalding did get into the endzone on the ground in both of the weeks.
Freshman running back Kumehnnu Gwilly and sophomore running back Romello Ross did not carry the ball in Week 1, but were added into the mix in Week 2, with Gwilly carrying the ball six times for 13 yards (2.2 yards per carry) and Ross getting three carries, taking them a total of 11 yards (3.7 yards per carry).
The Chippewas have carried the ball at least 35 times in both of their games leading into this contest with Syracuse.
Central Michigan ran the ball 50 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns versus Rhode Island (4.9 yards per carry) and 35 times for 123 yards and one touchdown against Kansas (3.5 yards per carry).
Seven different players have caught passes for the Chippewas in both of the team's first two games leading into this match-up with the Orange.
Senior wide receiver Mark Chapman has been the leading receiver in yardage in Week 1 and Week 2, gaining 88 yards on five catches in Week 1 and 168 yards on eight catches in Week 2, almost doubling his yardage total from Week 1 to Week 2.
Chapman leads the team with three receiving touchdowns, all of which came last week against Kansas.
Senior wide receiver Corey Willis caught the ball eight times in both games prior to facing Syracuse, but gained just shy of 100 more yards in Week 2 than Week 1 on the same amount of catches, going 140 yards on eight catches in Week 2 to 43 yards on eight catches in Week 1. However, Willis is expected to miss this week and potentially another three weeks thereafter due to a hand injury.
Willis also added his first receiving touchdown of this season in Week 2 to go with his more than doubling of his yardage from Week 1 to Week 2.
Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Childress attained around 20 receiving yards in each of the first two games, with one reception touchdown over the first two weeks combined, but is out for the season with a knee injury.
Junior tight end Logan Hessbrook became the fourth player to reach the endzone of a reception play when he crossed into glory territory in Week 2, where he finished with four catches for 61 yards against Kansas. Hessbrook caught five passes for 52 yards in Week 1, giving him at least four catches at the tight end position in both of the team's games to start their 2017 campaign.
Central Michigan has allowed their opponents 27 points in each of their first two games, but Rhode Island needed four quarters and three overtime periods to reach 27 points, while Central Michigan followed by giving up 27 points in regulation to Kansas in the following game.
The Chippewas have given up at least 100 yards on the ground to both of their adversaries in 2017, allowing 108 rushing yards to the Rams and then 147 most recently, to the Jayhawks.
After not giving up a single rushing touchdown in Week 1, Central Michigan allowed three scores on the grounds in Week 2.
Versus the pass, Central Michigan gave up 284 yards in Week 1, followed by 323 in Week 2.
However, the Chippewas have allowed a mere three passing touchdowns in eight quarters of regularion and three extra periods.
While only allowing three passing touchdowns over two games, Central Michigan has intercepted their opponents a total of eight times, accumulating six interceptions against Rhode Island alone, followed by two interceptions versus Kansas.
Senior defensive back Josh Cox leads the Chippewas with three interceptions in two games, two versus the Rams and one against the Jayhawks.
Three other defensive backs have at least one interception for Central Michigan over the team's first two games: senior Amari Coleman (2), Darwyn Kelly (1), and junior Zach Oakley (1).
Junior linebacker Alex Briones also has an interception in the opening two games.
Senior running back Berkley Edwards has three kickoff returns in both of the team's first two games of 2017, taking three kick returns a total of 57 yards (19 yards per return) in Week 1 and remaining consistent with those numbers in Week 1, attaining 56 yards in total on three kick returns (18.7 yards per return).
Freshman wide receiver Bailey Edwards equaled Berkley Edwards with exact numbers in the kick-return game, accumulating 56 yards on three kick returns in Week 2.
Chapman has also been involved in the kick return game as an option for the Chippewas, taking one return 15 yards in Week 1.
Defensive back Coleman has been the return man for Central Michigan on punts, gaining a total of 13 yards on two returns (6.5 yards per punt return).
In the kicking game, senior placekicker Michael Armstrong has made four of his five field-goal attempts, and his longest made field goal of 2017 was from 39 yards away. He is 7-for-7 on extra points so far in 2017.
Central Michigan has punted the ball away at least five times in both of their 2017 contests, with nine punts in Week 1 and five in Week 2. Junior punter Jack Sheldon has averaged 43.5 yards per punt over the team's first two games.
Central Michigan fumbled the ball four times in their first game of the season, a 30-27 win over the Rhode Island Rams at home, failing to recover three of their four fumbles. The Chippewas also fumbled the ball once in their second game, a road match with the Kansas Jayhawks, losing possession on that fumble as well, giving them five fumbles in their first two games of the 2017 season, and only one fumble recovery on offense.
The Chippewas have led a balanced offensive attack, passing 54 times and rushing 50 times in Week 1, followed by 37 passes to 35 rushes in Week 2.
|Posted on September 9, 2017 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
Syracuse's first possession was a rapid three-and-out, with quarterback Eric Dungey being sacked on his own five-yard line to end the drive. That was quite an opening stance by former Orange head coach Scott Shafer's defense, who subsequently forced Syracuse to punt the ball away.
The Orange would allow two first downs on each of the Blue Raiders' first two drives, with the fourth first down coming off of a defensive holding penalty that provided the Blue Raiders with a new set of downs instead of giving the Orange a sack that would force fourth down.
But, Syracuse sophomore strong safety Evan Foster would force a fumble that would be recovered by senior outside linebacker Parris Bennett on the Syracuse 16-yard line to negate the Middle Tennessee drive.
Then, the Blue Raiders and their defensive coordinator Scott Shafer would attack again, forcing another three-and-out for the Orange. Adding to the dismal start for the Orange offense, redshirt-sophomore punter Sterling Hofrichter struggled with the ball and chose to walk out of the back of the endzone for a safety instead of trying a last-second punt, putting the visiting Blue Raiders on the board first, ahead 2-0 early in the first quarter.
Orange redshirt-junior defensive tackle Chris Slayton along with Bennett stopped Stockstill on his quarterback keeper to end Middle Tennessee's third drive of the game with a punt.
However, Syracuse did nothing with this drive either, as Shafer's defense cancelled out all of Syracuse's first three drives, forcing them to punt each time.
The Orange would intercept Stockstill when senior outside linebacker Jonathan Thomas stepped in front of a passing lane at the Blue Raiders' 19-yard line and return the ball 15 yards to the Blue Raiders' four-yard line. From there, Shafer's defense would slow down the Syracuse offense for a fourth time, with Syracuse moving backward instead of forward and ultimately setting for a 25-yard field goal by senior kicker Cole Murphy to take a 3-2 lead, Syracuse's first time on top in an uneventful offensive first quarter for the team.
Dungey would be sacked for a 14-yard loss on third down on Syracuse's fifth offensive drive of the game, resulting in Syracuse's fourth punt in five drives of the first quarter.
Special teams seemed as if they got the Orange offense out of a bind when the ball seemed to stay inbounds after being touched by the Blue Raiders, but the official stated that the Blue Raiders had possession and then upheld the call after review, giving the Blue Raiders the ball on their own 14-yard line.
On that drive, Stockstill went 3-for-4 through the air, sending three of those four pass attempts to redshirt-junior wide receiver Richie James, who caught two of them.
Stockstill would then head to the ground, rushing for a 12-yard gain and a first down to the Syracuse 14-yard line. Sophomore wide receiver Ty Lee would attain the remainder of the yards on his 14-yard run to follow into the Syracuse endzone, giving the advantage back to Middle Tennessee, with a 9-3 lead.
The Orange would respond with a score of their own on the ensuing drive, where the team would run the ball seven times and pass twice, two completions by Dungey, ending with a one-yard rush into glory territory to place the lead back into the hands of Syracuse, at 10-9, with 10:49 to play before halftime.
After forcing a punt, Syracuse would go from their own 25-yard line all the way to Middle Tennessee's eight-yard line, but failed to score on a 4th-&-1 pass attempt by Dungey to senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael who tried to make a play on the ball in the end zone.
Despite the turnover on downs at the Blue Raiders' eight-yard line, the Orange would get the ball right back after forcing a three-&-out.
On 3rd-&-2, Syracuse received some help from their adversary, when Middle Tennessee made an illegal substitution which gave Syracuse a first down on the Middle Tennessee 17-yard line.
Dungey would shovel the ball to senior wide receiver Erv Philips immediately after, who ran 13 yards to the Middle Tennessee four-yard line for a first down.
However, the Orange would fail to score from inside the Blue Raiders' five-yard line for the second time in the first half, settling for a second field goal by Murphy, this from 22 yards away, extending the Orange to their largest lead of the game, four points, up 13-9 with 2:54 to play before the break.
Syracuse would force Middle Tennessee to punt on their next drive, but a roughing-the-kciker penalty on redshirt-senior defensive back Jordan Martin would give the ball right back to Middle Tennessee with a new set of downs and a 15-yard gain, placing Middle Tennessee at their own 36-yard line.
The Orange would bring the Blue Raiders to a 4th-&-3 situation, where the Blue Raiders would punt the ball away for the fifth time in the game, and second punt by quarterback Stockstill, sending the Orange to to start their drive from their own 11-yard line.
Nothing would come of the drive, with Syracuse going into the break holding onto their 13-9 advantage on Middle Tennessee.
At the half, both offenses looked dreadful in the stats columns, with Syracuse gaining eight yards on 16 carries in the second quarter (0.5 yards per carry), ending the first 30 minutes of play with 26 carries for 38 yards (1.5 yards per carry), while Middle Tennessee ran 10 times for 12 yards in the first quarter (1.2 yards per carry) and six times for seven yards in the second quarter (1.2 yards per carry).
Against a team that allowed 296 passing yards to the Vanderbilt Commodores in Week 1, the Orange amounted four passing yards in the 15 minutes of the first quarter, ending the first half with 73 passing yards in 30 minutes.
The Blue Raiders gained 118 yards in the first quarter through the air, but followed with a mere six yards in the second quarter.
Both teams began the second half by continuing their offensive woes, with Syracuse punting the ball away, followed by Middle Tennessee turning the ball over on downs.
With just under 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Dungey was hit by Blue Raiders' redshirt-junior defensive end Walter Brady, which was ruled a roughing-the-passer penalty with targeting and was upheld by the officials, disqualifying Brady from the game and gave Syracuse a new set of downs at their own 46-yard line.
Senior backup quarterback Zack Mahoney would come in to relieve Dungey of the drive, gaining his first new set of downs of 2017 in this his first game of play, on a quarterback keeper, for a nine-yard gain. The Orange would conclude the drive with yet another field-goal attempt, this from 40 yards away, and Murphy would connect for his third time in three tries, elevating the Orange to their largest lead of the game at this point, seven points, ahead 16-9, with 6:10 left in the third quarter.
Syracuse would force Middle Tennessee to punt for their sixth time in the game, but Syracuse sophomore punt returner/wide receiver Sean Riley would fumble the ball and Middle Tennessee would take over on the Syracuse 29-yard line. This drive would end with Stockstill sending the ball to James who crossed into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown play that would tie the game for the first time in the contest, at 16-16, with 3:38 to go in the third quarter.
An unsportsmanlike penatly on the Blue Raiders would tack on 15 yards to the Orange 32-yard gain by kick returner Riley, placing the Orange by midfield on their own 47 to start this drive.
Middle Tennessee responded with good coverage in the secondary, contesting anything thrown by Dungey, something they had done throughout the contest. At the end of the third quarter, Dungey's longest pass completion in 45 minutes was for 16 yards.
Murphy would attempt his fourth field goal of the game, this from 40 yards just like the prior, but unlike the prior attempt, this one went wide right, keeping the score tied at 16-16, a score that carried into the final quarter.
The Blue Raiders would gain possession and continue their drive into the fourth quarter, scoring just seven seconds in the final quarter on a 48-pass play from Stockstill to Lee where Lee picked up his foot from a defender on the ground and went into the endzone alone, elevating the Blue Raiders to a 23-16 advantage with 14:53 to play in the game.
On their first drive of the fourth quarter, Syracuse gained a first down on 4th-&-1 when Elmore charged forward, then again when Dungey sent receivers out wide and ran forward himself. Continuing the theme, Dungey would run up the middle on 3rd-&-4, this time bursting through the defense and out into the open field for a 29-yard, game-tying touchdown, bringing the score to 23 apiece with 11:07 to play.
By nine minutes remaining, Thomas of Syracuse threw his body into Lee to stop him and went down on the ground, trying to get up and falling back down. He eventually came off the field, limping on his right leg. Syracuse's defense would allow two first downs on third-down attempts on this drive, the second a pass from Stockstill to redshirt-senior running back Shane Tucker who caught the ball, saw Syracuse redshirt-junior cornerback Juwan Dowels in front of him and the endzone, and leapt over him for the touchdown on a 10-yard play, placing Middle Tennessee up 30-23 with 6:46, breaking the tie once again.
Dungey would get the ball to the Blue Raiders' 24-yard line on the next opportunity the Orange had, but the ball went to the wrong team, with true freshman free safety Reed Blankenship receiving the interception.
Syracuse's defense would do their part, forcing Middle Tennessee's seventh punt of the game, giving Dungey and the offense 2:57 to tie or take the lead.
Dungey went to sophomore wide receiver Devin C. Butler for a first down on the second play of the drive, then completed his next two passes, to Philips and Ishmael, respectively, to bring up 3rd-&-2 on the Blue Raiders' 39-yard line with 1:56 to play.
Elmore would carry the ball on the next play for no gain, leaving the Orange with 4th-&-2.
Dungey trusted the ball in his own hands again, rushing ahead for the first down to the Middle Tennessee 33.
The "butterfingers" woes of Syracuse continued after that play, however, and Dungey would be sacked as well, putting the Orange in a 4th-&-15 situation. Ishmael would catch the ball for a 14-yard gain, resulting in a turnover on downs for Syracuse with 28 seconds to play, after the ruling on the field was confirmed by the officials.
In Shafer's first time back inside the Carrier Dome, he leaves with a win for head coach Rick Stockstill and company as his defense holds Dungey to 180 yards passing, an interception, and no touchdowns, on the way to a 30-23 score that leaves Syracuse 1-1 on the season and Middle Tennessee the same.
Syracuse will host the Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday, September 16, at 3:30pm ET inside the Dome.
Worth Noting: Syracuse true freshman tight end Chris Elmore ran the ball four times for 20 yards (5 yards per carry) in the second quarter, along with being utilized in play fakes that involved him and two other players lined up in an "I" formation behind Dungey.
Dungey threw for 180 yards versus a Middle Tennessee defense that allowed 296 passing yards a week before, to Vanderbilt. He had 328 passing yards in the previous week against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils.
The junior quarterback's woes on the field were affected in a major way by the numerous dropped balls by his Orange receiving core.
|Posted on September 9, 2017 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange football squad's second game of the 2017 season pits them against the visiting Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders and former head coach Scott Shafer, who is currently in his first season as Middle Tennessee's defensive coordinator.
Take a look at the analysis below to get a better feel for Syracuse's upcoming foe:
QB Brent Stockstill's completion percentage has gone down from 66.7% in 2015 to 63.3% in 2016 and most recently 58.1% in his first game of 2017. Despite attempting less throws in 2016 (414) than in 2015 (490), Stockstill's completion numbers fell.
However, Stockstill, the son of Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockhill, remained consistent in his touchdown to interception ratio from 2015 to 2016. He threw for at least 30 touchdowns while tossing less than 10 interceptions in both of those seasons, with 30 touchdowns to nine interceptions in 2015 and 31 touchdowns to seven interceptions in 2016.
On the ground, Stockstill has taken at least 45 quarterback keepers in each of the last two seasons. He achieved 37 total rushing yards on 60 attempts with two touchdowns in 2015. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey accumulated 51 rushing yards on a mere nine carries, including two touchdowns, in the 2017 season-opener against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils alone. Conversely, in Middle Tennessee's season-opener versus the Vanderbilt Commodores, Stockstill had -20 rushing yards on 10 attempts.
Take out the -20 yards that sent the Blue Raiders backward from Stockstill's 10 keepers and those that ran for Middle Tennessee in the 2017 season-opener gained 69 yards on 16 carries (4.31 yards per carry).
Senior running back Shane Tucker achieved at least 400 rushing yards in the 2014 and 2015 seasons; he was not on the field for the 2016 season. Tucker had 30 more attempts in 2015 than in 2014, but achieved 73 less yards despite the uptick in carries.
His touchdown totals have fluctuated from season to season, with five in 2013, eight in 2014, and two in 2015.
Junior running back Maurice Gordon had the most carries in the team's 2017 season-opener, with seven, amounting 26 yards (3.7 yards per carry), while Tucker had a mere two carries but gained just five less yards (21) than Gordon, and averaged 10.5 yards per carry.
Outside of running backs, the Blue Raiders used other skill players to run the ball in their first game of 2017, having junior wide receiver Richie James carry the ball twice and sophomore wide receiver Ty Lee carry it five times. The duo wide receivers combined to gain just one more yard than Tucker did alone (22 to 21 rushing yards).
Along with carrying the ball twice for Middle Tennessee, James was also the team's leading receiver in their first game of 2017, catching the ball 10 times and amounting 112 yards, including the team's only receiving touchdown of the game.
The other four players to catch a pass achieved 54 yards combined, as compared to James' 112 receiving yards by himself. James (11.2), Tucker (9.0), and junior wide receiver Patrick Smith (9.7) averaged at least nine yards per reception in the team's 2017 debut.
Five players caught at least one pass from Stockstill, while Orange starting quarterback Eric Dungey and backup quarterback Rex Culpepper combined to complete passes to 12 different players in their 2017 opener. Middle Tennessee's five players collectively caught 18 passes in their 2017 season-opener for 166 yards, while Syracuse's 12 players combined to catch 38 passes for 442 yards.
The Blue Raiders had success against the rush in their 2017 season-opening match-up with Vanderbilt, allowing 71 yards on 35 carries, giving the Commodores only two yards per carry on average.
However, the Blue Raiders' defense struggled against the pass versus Vanderbilt, allowing just shy of 300 yards through the air (296) and three passing touchdowns to no interceptions. Senior running back Ralph Webb attained over 100 receiving yards (104) on just three catches against the Blue Raiders' pass defense.
Vanderbilt sophomore wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb caught the ball twice, both turning into touchdowns allowed by Middle Tennessee, in a 22-point loss to open the season, losing 28-6.
Middle Tennessee's defense only sacked the quarterback once in ther 2017 opener, amounting five tackles for loss, while Middle Tennessee's offense allowed Vanderbilt to sack Stockstill five times and achieve 10 total tackles for loss.
The Blue Raiders' defense forced seven punts, but the offense also punted the ball away seven times.
Junior punter Matt Bonadies averaged 40.5 yards per punt versus Vanderbilt in their Week 1 contest, punting six times for 243 yards.
Stockstill punted once for Middle Tennessee for 42 yards.
Senior kicker Canon Rooker missed an extra point and did not attempt a field goal at all in the 2017 season-opener.
Middle Tennessee did not return a single kick, while wide receiver James took three punt returns back a total of 20 yards, with that 20 yards being achieved on one of those three return attempts.
|Posted on September 2, 2017 at 11:35 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
With two of the top-3 ranked teams in the nation squaring off in what was the season-opener for both for the 2017 season, the level of excitement was high and tangible inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fans shouting the Florida State Seminoles' chant while going up the escalator made 10 people sound like 100.
Alabama Crimson Tide devouts were saying "Roll Tide" as a way of acknowledging their brothers and sisters in football lore as they walked by outside the stadium.
Both supporters' groups were well-represented at this the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game #1, with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) on one side with Florida State and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) on the other with Alabama.
As a result, the entire staidum was a maroonish white, blurring lines of Seminoles and Crimson Tide fans, with the teams' signature colors so close to one another's.
Lines remained blurred to begin the game, with neither Alabama, who received first after Florida State deferred to the second half, nor Florida State coming away with any points in their opening drives; the Crimson Tide kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 42-yard field-goal try while the Seminoles turned the ball over on downs.
Pappanastos would connect, however, on his second attempt of the game, this from 35 yards away, to get Alabama on the board at 3-0, which would be the score that carried to the end of the first quarter.
But less than two minutes into the second quarter, Florida State became the first team of the contest to find the end zone when wide receiver Auden Tate grabbed the ball thrown by quarterback Deondre Francois with two hands, passed the hand of an outstretched defender, for a three-yard touchdown to place the Seminoles ahead of the Crimson Tide for the first time in the game, at 7-3 with 13:41 before the break.
Florida State had little time to celebrate though, with Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts finding wide receiver Calvin Ridley wide open after passing his defender in the open field, catching a rainbow that he took into the pot of gold for a 53-yard reception play to place Alabama back ahead, this time 10-7. This scoring play came just two minutes and 13 seconds after Florida State reached the end zone for the first time.
Then things got relatively quiet in Mercedes-Benz stadium, with each team punting the ball away on three consecutive drives after neither having sent out their punting unit in the first half.
A blocked field-goal attempt by Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick which was caught by linebacker Rashaan Evans made things interesting, but he eventually would be ruled down as time expired on the first 30 minutes.
In the first half, Alabama amounted just seven more total offensive yards than Florida State, 192 to 185, but how each team attained their yardage was opposite, with Alabama having 101 rushing yards to 24 by Florida State and Florida State gaining 161 yards in the passing game to Alabama's 91.
The Seminoles began the second half with what they had continually down later in the first half: Punting the ball away. This fourth punt of the game for Florida State, and first of the second half, followed Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis getting his first sack of the contest, which put Florida State in a 4th-&-24 situation.
Alabama responded by keeping things quiet as well, punting for the fourth time in a row when they booted away their first drive of the second half.
But the Crimson Tide's sepcial teams showed up late in the third quarter just like they did right before half, blocking the fifth punt attempt of the game by the Seminoles. Running back Damien Harris recovered the ball for the special teams unit on Florida State's six-yard line.
Alabama's offense would fail to get in the end zone from six yards away, however, and would instead send a 25-yard field-goal attempt through the uprights, Pappanastos' second made attempt in three tries, to extend the Crimson Tide's lead to six, 13-7, with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
Speaking of special teams, Florida State's made a huge blunder immediately after, fumbling the kickoff return attempt. Linebacker Dylan Moses caused the fumble and teammate Holcombe recovered it on the Seminoles' 11-yard line.
It would take one play for the Crimson Tide to roll into the end zone, and who better than Harris who had recovered the blocked punt earlier on, as aforementioned. Harris ran the ball into glory territory from 11 yards out for Alabama's second touchdown of the game, and first on the ground.
Hurts followed the touchdown by rolling out right on the two-point conversion and throwing to the right side of the end zone. There waiting for the ball were three Crimson Tide players, and Ridley came up with it, to give the Crimson Tide a two-touchdown advantage, 21-7, with 1:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Florida State responded to having their punt attempt blocked and then fumbling a kick return by throwing an interception, when Francois' pass attempt was grabbed by Alabama cornerback Levi Wallace, giving Alabama the possession that they ended the third quarter and began the fourth quarter with.
Pappanastos would go wide right on his 41-yard field-goal attempt to end that drive, though, giving the Seminoles possession on their own 24 and solidying that no points were scored on the opportunity that came from intercepting Francois.
But just wait...
Francois threw the ball right back to the Crimson Tide on the first play of that drive, with linebacker Mack Wilson reeling it in on the Seminoles' 31-yard line.
Florida State's defense forced a punt following Francois' second interception thrown in a row, and second of the game overall.
If not for the Seminoles' defense, the game would have gotten well out of hand.
Pappanastos connected from 33 yards away with 6:25 to play to elevate Alabama to a 17-point lead, 24-7, ending his night 3-for-5 on field-goal attempts.
After amounting 161 passing yards in the first half, Francois gained only 70 passing yards in the second half, leaving inside 5:45 remaining after getting sacked for the third time in the game, this takedown coming from defensive back Ronnie Harrison. Francois laid on the ground for a few minutes, coming up and being aided off the field, putting almost no pressure whatsoever on his left leg.
True freshman James Blackman came in following Francois' injury and continued the non-scoring offense for the Seminoles.
Along with the passing game differing from the first to the second half for Florida State, their running game never got going, accumulating a mere 25 yards in four quarters, with their leading rusher, running back Jacques Patrick, gaining 17 yards on six carries.
Alabama takes the 24-7 win over Florida State to begin their 2017 season, while the Seminoles instead leave with concern for the running game and for the health of starting quarterback Francois out of this match-up.
What once began as a low-scoring, close contest in front of 76,330 onlookers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium concluded with Alabama looking far more ready for this contest than their counterpart.
|Posted on September 1, 2017 at 10:25 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
Syracuse did not waste a minute more for Orange football fans who had been anxiously anticipating Dino Babers' second season.
No, seriously, it took Syracuse less than three minutes into the 2017 campaign to score.
The scoring drive was aided by junior quarter Eric Dungey's 34-yard hookup with senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael who grabbed the ball by the sideline for his first catch of the 2017 season.
Syracuse would attain first downs from catches and runs to follow, including the first rushing first down of the season off the power of junior running back Dontae Strickland.
Strickland's run was followed by an 11-yard keeper to the outside and in for Dungey, who took the first end zone trip for the Orange this season, giving Syracuse the early 7-0 lead on the visiting Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in the Carrier Dome.
Keeping with time, the Orange would continue to take advantage of it, scoring on their second and third drives of the game as well, with Strickland carrying the ball up the middle from six yards out for his first touchdown of the season (14-0 Syracuse at the 9:38 mark of the first quarter), set up by redshirt-junior wide receiver Jamal Custis' one-handed grab by the sideline and then senior wide receiver Erv Philips catching the team's and his first receiving touchdown of the season. Philips caught the ball and then preceded to drag his defender into glory territory from 14 yards out (21-0 at 2:40 mark of the first quarter). This reception and run by Philips followed three straight first downs by fellow senior receiver Ishmael off of catches of his own.
Syracuse would conclude the first quarter ahead 21-0, scoring on all three of their drives while forcing Central Connecticut State to punt on all three of theirs.
Dungey, who began 12-for-12, ended the first quarter 13-of-15 for 167 yards.
In the second quarter, Dungey would take off for quarterback keepers on multiple occasions, including a run-happy seventh drive of the game where Dungey would somersault in the air after getting hit while running.
On that same drive, Dungey would send a dart to a cutting Ishmael who caught and dropped the ball as he crossed the threshold into the end zone.
Syracuse would attempt their first field goal of the season on this drive, with senior kicker Cole Murphy connecting from 29 yards away to elevate the Orange advantage to 24-0 with 7:27 before halftime.
The Orange remained fresh later on in the second quarter, with sophomore running Moe Neal outstretching his arms to reel in a catch from Dungey and then went outside and inside, utilizing his blockers en route to a 52-yard touchdown, his first of the 2017 campaign, which elevated the Orange to a 31-0 lead with 4:54 before the break.
Syracuse scored on five of their eight drives in the first half.
Conversely, Central Connecticut State punted on all seven of their possessions in the first half of play.
At the break, Dungey had completed 20 of his 27 attempts for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Syracuse ran the ball 19 times to their 27 pass attempts, while Central Connecticut State went to the air 13 times and to the ground 16 times, with junior quarterback Jacob Dolegala completing three of his 13 passes.
The only real blemish on the Orange in the first half was when free safety Antwan Cordy went down, grabbed his right shin, and needed help off the field, not returning in the half.
Less than four minutes into the second half, the Blue Devils did something they did not do in the first 30 minutes of the game: Score.
Junior wide receiver Jose Garcia had spacing from his defender in the left side of the end zone, and Dolegala sent the ball from 24 yards away, with Garcia reeling it in to put Central Connecticut State on the board with 11:15 left in the third quarter, making it 31-7 Syracuse.
The Orange responded by moving down the field on their first drive of the second half for yet another score, set up by back-to-back first down receptions by Philips.
In his first game with Syracuse, transfer junior tight end Ravian Pierce who grab and hold on to a five-yard pass to the middle of the end zone from Dungey after Dungey adequately faked the run. After the Murphy missed extra-point attempt, Syracuse went ahead 37-7 with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Dungey split Syracuse's drive late in the third quarter with three completed passes in four attempts to go with four rushes, three by him and one by Neal. The final of the four carries was a handoff fake to Neal, which was sold well to the Blue Devils' defense, and carried into the end zone untouched by Dungey for his fifth touchdown of the game. Dungey accumulated three touchdowns through the air and two with his feet, ending his night with 3:42 left in the third quarter, amounting 328 yards passing, completing 28 of his 36 pass attempts, and rushing for 51 yards on nine carries.
This 300-yard passing game marks the seventh time Dungey has achieved at least 300 yards passing in a single game while a member of the Orange.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback Rex Culpepper came in to relieve Dungey, starting his first-ever collegiate drive at the 1:27 mark of the third quarter.
Culpepper completed his inaugural first-down play when he connected with redshirt-senior wide receiver Sean Avant on a four-yard pass. He went 3-for-5 on his first-ever drive as a Syracuse quarterback, with all three completions going to Avant.
Junior running back Tyrone Perkins joined Culpepper and Avant in relief of the Syracuse starters, carrying the ball three times for seven yards on the drive that began at the end of the third quarter and concluded in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse's backup kicker and starting punter, attempted a 51-yard field goal at the end of Culpepper's first-ever drive and went wide left.
On his second-ever drive in college, Culpepper sent a dart downfield to sophomore wide receiver Devin C. Butler for a 42-yard pass play where Butler grabbed the ball and held on with a defender attempting to disrupt the catch. The drive ended with Hofrichter connected on his first field goal of the season, from 27 yards away, to put the Orange ahead by 40, 47-7, with 9:58 to play.
Murphy came back into the game with 59 seconds remaining to make his second field goal of the game, this one from 39 yards away, raising the Orange to a 50-7 lead, which they would take to the end. Syracuse scored in every single quarter in the game, en route to their 43-point victory.
Even with their reserves in, Syracuse did not punt a single time in the second half versus Central Connecticut, leaving them with three punts over four quarters. But the reserves did make two turnovers, the first on a fumble with approximately eight minutes remaining and following on the next drive with another fumble with 5:46 to play. But Orange sophomore defensive lineman Kenneth Ruff recovered a fumble immediately after Syracuse's second turnover to get possession right back.
The Blue Devils punted 12 times on 13 possessions, with only one scoring drive in the game.
Syracuse moves to 1-0 on their season, with their upcoming game versus former head coach and now Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders' defensive coordinator Scott Shafer set to start at 3:30pm ET on Saturday, September 9th, inside the Carrier Dome.
|Posted on August 29, 2017 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
When it comes to Taurean Thompson, questions that arise are those like, "Will his defense improve?", "Can he become a leader in his second season?", or "Will he continue to build on his offensive success that he had as a true freshman?"
The question Syracuse Orange men's basketball fans were not anticipating or prepared to ask is, "What will the Orange do without Thompson?"
Yet, here we are.
Thompson is no longer with the Syracuse men's basketball program after leaving on his own choosing following his true freshman season.
This move leaves the Orange with a mere four scholarship players on their 2017-18 roster that were on the team last season: Junior point guard Frank Howard, sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle, redshirt-freshman forward Matthew Moyer, and junior center Paschal Chukwu.
Howard struggled in his sophomore season and was supplanted by graduate transfer point guard John Gillon, III.
Battle impressed offensively and was a spark for the Orange on more than one occasion, displaying his ability to score from beyond the arc on a squad that was without former sharp-shooter Trevor Cooney for the first time in years.
Moyer did not play a single game, handed a red-shirt season, which brings him into the 2017-18 campaign with experience in practice with Syracuse but not against any opponents in the arena of college basketball.
Chukwu competed in a mere five games for Syracuse last season, going out due to injury and eventually undergoing eye surgery.
Over the last two seasons combined, the Orange have had to say an early good-bye to forward/center Tyler Lydon and shooting guard Malachi Richardson, while having to part with players like Gillon and Andrew White, III, who had big-time moments for Syracuse, but were only there for one season as graduate transfers with one year of eligibility.
Early departures of underclassmen and minimal time to teach and grow transfers have left Syracuse in a state of flux that is atypical of Jim Boeheim's squad, and this loss of Thompson undoubtedly has made matters worse.
Thompson's decision immediately puts even more pressure on the shoulders of second-year player Battle, who came in with Thompson, because Battle and Thompson were heading into the 2017-18 season as the two best offensive returnees by a longshot.
The front court takes a substantial blow as well because Lydon had already left early for the 2017 NBA Draft, and so Thompson, the other half of the best scoring duo the Orange had at the forward position last season's, decision to leave has made the pothole into more of a sinkhole now.
To say the Orange will have to rely more heavily on the new faces this season is a colossal understatement.
With only four returning scholarship players, as previously stated, there will be multiple new faces in the starting lineup because if Moyer lands there, it will be his first time as a starter, or playing collegiate basketball in general, and that still leaves one spot to fill if Howard, Battle, and Chukwu all start.
The days of Boeheim sitting the majority of an incoming freshmen class to watch and learn in their first season at Syracuse seem far in the distance. Point guard Howard Washington, Jr., forward Oshae Brissett, forward Marek Dolezaj, and forward Bourama Sidibe all came into a good situation as far as playing time being available.
To heal this bruise to the Orange, this freshmen class needs to be one of the best Syracuse has seen in awhile.
Luckily for the coaching staff, three of four freshmen recruited and on campus are in the front court.
But the learning curve was already sharper than what you would like in bringing in new faces.
Now, it feels more like going from your driver's ed test to being a NASCAR driver seemingly overnight.
|Posted on August 24, 2017 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange have another "Yes" on the board, and yet another student-athlete from the state of New York is giving it.
Qadir White, an offensive tackle from Cardinal Hayes High School in Bronx, New York, announced his verbal commitment to Syracuse's football program via social media on Twitter at p.m. ET.
The Bronx prospect fielded over 20 national offers, choosing Syracuse over historic rival Penn State, historic and current Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rivals Pittsburgh, Boston College, and Miami (FL), N.C. State also inside the ACC, Southeastern Conference (SEC) schools Auburn and Georgia, UCLA of the PAC-12, and Minnesota of the Big Ten, among others.
He is the 15th member of the 2018 recruiting class for the Orange, and is the third offensive lineman to give the nod to Syracuse, fourth if you include Gabe Horan of the Baldwinsville (NY) Bees, who currently plays tight end at the Charles W. Baker High School.
The two other offensive linemen verbally committed to Syracuse for the 2018 incoming recruiting class are offensive tackle Willem Froumy from Exeter High School in Exeter, New Hampshre, and center Tyrone Sampson, Jr., from East English Village Prep in Detroit, Michigan.
Along with Horan, White marks three verbal commitments to the Orange from the state of New York, with the inclusion of Atrilleon "Trill" Williams coming from Archbisop Stepinac in White Plains, New York.
You can see highlights of White's play, including against Trill Williams' Archbishop Stepinac team, HERE.
|Posted on August 1, 2017 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
Article by Dan Tortora
The stage is set in Baltimore, Maryland, where the final four teams in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) will tip off on Tuesday, August 1st, to decide who will have one final step toward the crown and the $2 million payoff for 2017.
Boeheim's Army enters their match-up with Overseas Elite as a result of attaining their first TBT Final Four appearance in three tries.
Overseas Elite heads to the court against Boeheim's Army on a 17-0 run in the TBT, having never lost a contest in two years and counting, hoisting back-to-back trophies in 2015 and 2016, and eyeing the trifecta in 2017.
It is easy to see in this "David and Goliath" story who David is and who lands the role of Goliath.
However, the former Syracuse Orange men's basketball players that comprise this year's Boeheim's Army squad are no stranger to being the underdog, to being bet against, to being the "David" in the story.
On the other end, credit goes to Overseas Elite for not being complacent with winning once, nor winning twice. They have moved through this year's TBT with the desire to be the last team standing once again, refusing to lose the drive or the desire having already risen above all other teams for the last two years.
With that being said, here is what to look out for with both teams:
Kyle Fogg (Arizona) leaves teams in his given last name...a fog. He has shown that he can cash in from the inside as well as the outside on the offensive end, and has only gotten better with time. Fogg had 15 points in 26 minutes in his first game of this year's TBT, seven points in 27 minutes in his second game, 19 points in 24 minutes in his third game, and 26 points in 23 minutes most recently. He has gone from 22 points in 53 minutes over two games to 26 points in a mere game. Even in his worst offensive performance, seven points in 27 minutes, we must look at the fact that he took a mere two shots in the game and that he did not amount seven points on a subpar shooting night. Fogg is a definite offensive threat to Boeheim's Army, not only in his scoring ability but as a creator as well, delivering nine assists over the last two games combined (5 and 4).
The front court of Overseas Elite is another key area of concern for Boeheim's Army, with the likes of small forward D.J. Kennedy (St. John's), power forward DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh), power forward Justin Burrell (St. John's). and center Johndre Jefferson (South Carolina). They have depth. Multiple weapons. Firepower. Boeheim's Army will need to put bodies on each of these players and if they are all out on the floor at the same time, or at least three of four are, other players like small forward Donte Greene and small forward James Southerland will have to be physical to aid the likes of power forward Rick Jackson and center DaShonte Riley.
Teams have taken the lead on Overseas Elite throughout their first four games in this year's TBT, connecting from beyond the arc, but no matter how well an opponent has shot from distance (i.e. Ram Nation), inside the arc is where Overseas Elite has been able to cancel out their opponents.
As previously stated, the front court of Boeheim's Army must be physical and provide road blocks for Overseas Elite when they attempt to attack the rim, be it for points or rebounds. Riley has been a silent offensive player, but his blocks, rebounds, and other work not always noted on a stat sheet have aided Boeheim's Army in condensing opportunities for their opponents. Boeheim's Army would be smart to dump the ball down to Riley for high-percentage points at the rim as the focus on the defensive end will be spent probably on Riley the least.
Jackson has neared a double-double or achieved it in the majority of Boeheim's Army's games this year. If he reaches a double-double versus Overseas Elite, that may be one of the slight edges he gives Boeheim's Army as the difference between vying for a championship or heading back up north.
Southerland scored 23 points in 23 minutes in a 30-point swing victory for Boeheim's Army in their "Elite 8" match-up with Team FOE, but he also had 11 rebounds, which should not go understated. His improvement shooting with a hand in his face plus his willingness to get after the boards make him dangerous, the latter is the help Boeheim's Army needs inside against a strong Overseas Elite front court.
Greene must focus on attacking inside. He can make outside shots and has the capability of going off, like he did for 32 points in 34 minutes in a double-OT win over Gael Nation in the second round of this year's TBT, but he also went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc most recently. Though it is unlikely he will have as sour of an outing from distance in a consecutive game, his backing down of defenders, which was something that was desired at his time at Syracuse, would only help Boeheim's Army in the physicality of this game, and because he has found success at the line. Greene must also minimize his turnovers; he has averaged two per game in this year's TBT.
As far as backcourt goes, point guards Brandon Triche and John Gillon, III, as well as shooting guards Eric Devendorf and Trevor Cooney are all capable of getting hot from distance, and though it was previously stated that this is not the only thing needed to dethrown Overseas Elite, it most certainly could not hurt. Boeheim's Army has more deep threats than Overseas Elite so it would be in their best interest to create opportunities for one another. If those shots fall, watch out, because Syracuse players have been known to get hot. But, the backcourt must use the emphasis of Overseas Elite's defense on them to create inside opportunities. If they are smart, Jackson and Riley will be getting fed in front of the basket in this one.