first_img Published on October 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm Contact Tomer: [email protected] | @tomer_langer The recipe for the last two Syracuse losses was the same. A struggling offense that couldn’t stay on the field left the defense to maintain the game.Considering the opponents and game flow, SU’s defense had two good performances in each of the last two weeks — both losses to LSU and N.C. State. Head coach Dino Babers said after each game that he was happy with the unit’s performance.On Saturday, the Orange (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) once again failed to get much going in the first half on offense, stuck on just three points for nearly the entire stanza. The defense answered the call, keeping Pittsburgh’s (2-4, 0-2) offense at bay for a majority of the game, forcing five three-and-outs, including four in the first half, in what would eventually be a 27-24 win for SU.“We just wanted to make sure we got them off the field and got our offense the ball as much as possible,” said linebacker Parris Bennett, who finished the game with 14 tackles, the third straight game in which he’s had 12 or more. “We knew three and outs was the fastest way besides turnovers.”The front seven for Syracuse dominated a weak Pittsburgh offensive line throughout the game. The Panthers attempted numerous shovel passes throughout the game, but most were snuffed out by the linebackers. In front of the linebackers, SU’s defensive ends brought good pressure to ensure that the quarterback — whether it was starter Max Browne or backup Ben DiNucci, who came in after Browne got hurt — couldn’t escape.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhere the Syracuse defense really made its mark was on third down. The Panthers only converted on three third downs the whole game, and all of those came in the fourth quarter. The stops weren’t particularly easy ones, either, as there weren’t many situations when Syracuse pinned Pittsburgh back. Of the seven third-down attempts that Pittsburgh had in the first half, only two were more than five yards.“When you come in at halftime and you see the opposing team has not converted a third down,” Babers said, “that’s absolutely amazing.”While Pittsburgh did manage to move the ball from time to time, the Orange largely avoided giving up the big play that has burned it in the past, as the secondary had a strong outing.Early in the game, a Pitt receiver was targeted deep down the field and had a step on SU cornerback Scoop Bradshaw with no safety help over the top. Bradshaw managed to sneak his hand in and break the pass up. On the next play, Bradshaw hit a receiver who was trying to corral the ball near the sideline and forced it to pop out.Offense is what Babers has become known for. After the LSU game, Babers said that SU needed to score more points if it wanted to win the close games it’d been in. The Orange defense knows it needs to give that unit a shot to put up points. It did just that, even if it took longer than expected for those points to come.“I mean, we know this offense just needs any chance they can get. They can get going at any moment,” Bennett said. “I have confidence that we’re going to stop (the opposing team) and get them the ball back every time.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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