Syracuse rumbles over Central Connecticut State in season opener, 50-7

first_img Published on September 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR Todd Michaelek | Contributing PhotographerDungey jumpstarted an aspect of Syracuse’s ground game the running backs seemed unable to.Babers emphasized running the ball this offseason. In his history of dramatically improving teams in Year 2, he bumped Eastern Illinois’ rushing by 86 percent in 2013. Then, at Bowling Green in 2015, two rushers combined for 2,000 yards.While CCSU struggled to bring down Strickland — in the first quarter, he carried two defenders on him for several yards until forward progress stopped the play — he struggled to establish a consistent presence out of the backfield. Neither he nor sophomore ball-carrier Moe Neal had a rush longer than 10 yards.Does Strickland believe SU needs to run the ball more effectively to compete with stiff competition?“It’ll come together,” Strickland said. “… Sometimes it’ll open it up, sometimes it won’t.”Overall, Syracuse’s first-team offense mustered 106 yards on the ground against CCSU. One year ago, Central Connecticut, a 2-9 FCS team, allowed 153 rushing yards per game. Excluding Dungey, Strickland and Neal managed 56 yards on 19 rushes, good for 2.9 yards per carry. Last season, Syracuse owned the Atlantic Coast Conference’s worst rushing attack at 3.2 yards per carry.Neal was more dynamic in open space. Late in the second quarter, Neal brought down a high pass from Dungey and, upon landing, sent one defender flying past him and toward the sideline with a juke. Neal outraced everyone to the endzone for a 52-yard touchdown.  At the end of the third quarter, Syracuse pulled most of its starters and allowed the backups to Carrion the Blue Devils defense.It all, in the end, seemed not to matter. Syracuse could’ve played nearly any type of football it wanted and still won.   Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments UPDATED: Sept. 10, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.Eric Dungey broke the seal. Less than three minutes into the first quarter of the season-opener, he pulled the ball back from running back Donte Strickland’s chest on what appeared to be a read-option and scampered 11 yards to near left pylon. Dungey jaunted in untouched, the crowd roared, the sideline celebrated and the team that had pledged to be different showed its first flash of playing the same game. Syracuse (1-0) mauled Central Connecticut State (0-1), 50-7, in the Carrier Dome on Friday night in front of an announced 30,273, shifting into cruise control after its first three possessions.  Those three drives each went at least 50 yards, ended in a touchdown and lasted less than three minutes. On the last of the scores, Syracuse sped to the line for its ninth play after driving more than 70 yards. Dungey flipped a pass out to Ervin Philips while at least one CCSU defender has his hands on his knee pads, and Philips turned the corner for a score.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAll offseason, players and head coach Dino Babers preached change in Year 2. The running game would improve. Eric Dungey would run less. The offense wouldn’t run through one outside wide receiver, as it did a year ago for the record-shattering Amba Etta-Tawo. Yet, against CCSU, a team Vegas made Syracuse a 48-point favorite over, the Orange throttled the Blue Devils by being the same team it had been a season ago. If the Orange is to change, Friday night was not the barometer. “I’d like to see the run game a little bit more,” Babers said. “But the throwing game, the stuff they were giving us, was really effective and it was really working.”Todd Michaelek | Contributing PhotographerSenior wide receiver Steve Ishmael reeled in the first pass of the game 34 yards down the right sideline, and though he didn’t score, he had night of his own after being the second outside option to Etta-Tawo a year ago.Dungey targeted Ishmael 14 times, two more than Etta-Tawo saw last year in the season-opener. In one first-quarter stretch of seven passes, Dungey targeted Ishmael six times, and the only pass not directed the senior wideout’s way was Philips’ touchdown. Ishmael finished with 134 yards on 12 catches.When Dungey played, the next-most targeted outside receiver was Jamal Custis, with six, which is one fewer target than Ishmael had in last year’s season-opener.Dungey said he didn’t necessarily see any parallel between the two situations.“They were just giving us Steve today,” he said. “Like I said, any day could be any given guys’ day.”Midway through the second quarter, Dungey dropped back to pass and then took off. Syracuse, at this point, led 21-0. He spun off one defender and then dove past another. Later in the drive, he stayed up as Blue Devils defensive back Carlton Nash dove at his legs. When Nash hit close to Dungey’s knees, Syracuse’s quarterback completed a full somersault in the air before landing.This preseason, Dungey promised to become more of a pocket passer. To scramble smarter. Last season, he averaged about 11 rushes per game. Against CCSU, he finished with nine rushes and 51 yards.“I hope it’s out of (his) system,” Babers said. “I kind of went up to him (after the flip) and said, ‘Are you done? Have you got it out of your system?’ He just needs to be smart. That’s how he is. Obviously, he’s very difficult to change when it comes to that stuff. But it makes his game.“A lot of quarterbacks do that stuff and it affects their accuracy and their numbers and their percentages drop. He does that stuff and he throws for high percentages. That’s just kind of who he is, I guess.”last_img read more