Syracuse’s bowl chances, offensive line down in this week’s stock watch

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first_imgSyracuse’s conference winless drought continued on Friday after the Orange (3-4, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) fell to Pittsburgh (5-2, 2-1 ACC), 27-20, in the Carrier Dome.SU started slow on offense again, falling behind 24-6 by halftime. Starting quarterback Tommy DeVito entered the game banged up and his health only further deteriorated, as the redshirt sophomore was taken out of the game for good in the second quarter in favor of Clayton Welch. Welch played well in his stead, sparking the Syracuse offense and bringing the Orange within a touchdown late in the fourth, but the comeback attempt came too late and SU dropped below .500.Here’s whose stock is up or down after Syracuse’s loss to the Panthers.STOCK UPAdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter attempting just eight passes since transferring to SU from Butte College in 2017, Welch set career-highs across the board Saturday. He took over at quarterback for the final two-plus quarters and served as the offense’s lifeblood, connecting on a 94-yard touchdown pass to Taj Harris and leading the team in rushing. During a game in which their starting quarterback went down with an injury and they fell behind by three possessions in the first half, the Orange very well could’ve written the game off and looked forward to their matchup with Florida State. But Welch gave Syracuse and its fans the energy they needed, despite the comeback falling short. SU head coach Dino Babers indicated that DeVito will be the starter against the Seminoles if he’s ready to go, but Welch’s performance on Friday must give Babers some confidence should DeVito be forced to leave again.Syracuse’s versatile defensive tackle had one of the best games of his career against the Panthers, totaling five tackles, two for loss. Black also had two of SU’s three sacks in the game, tying his career-high that he set in against Liberty. The second of his quarterback takedowns came on a key third down in the third quarter, when he chased down Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and forced the Panthers to punt. The sack gave the Orange possession and ultimately a field goal attempt in a two-possession game, though Andre Szmyt hooked the kick. Black has played well this season as part of SU’s group of defensive tackles that’s had to make up for the loss of Chris Slayton, who was drafted to the NFL earlier this year.STOCK DOWNWhile DeVito is listed as the starter on Syracuse’s depth chart leading into Florida State, he was forced out of Friday’s game partially due to injury and game plan. He was sacked six times in the first half alone by the Panthers, who significantly diminished both DeVito’s health and confidence. Babers said after the game that he knows who the better quarterback is, but Friday’s game marked the third straight that DeVito looked less than 100 percent. With Clayton Welch’s competent performance against Pittsburgh and the Seminoles looming on the horizon, Babers might have to think about allowing DeVito to recover as opposed to risking another setback.The loss to Pittsburgh drops Syracuse below .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2017, when the Orange finished 4-8 following a 4-3 start. In order to make a bowl game, SU will have to win three of its final five games, starting with a road contest on Saturday against Florida State in which Syracuse is currently a 10.5-point underdog. Should the Orange fall to the Seminoles as expected, they’ll be forced to finish their season 3-1 or 4-0 after a slate that includes back-to-back road games and finishes against No. 25 Wake Forest. While SU certainly has the talent to reach a bowl game, its offensive issues have prevented it from proving thatwith any consistency through seven games this season.In what has become somewhat of a weekly tradition at this point, SU’s offensive line struggled and allowed its quarterback to be sacked a number of times. This time it was Pittsburgh that infiltrated the Orange backfield on seemingly every other snap, and this time Welch faced the heat in addition to DeVito. In total, Syracuse’s quarterbacks were sacked nine times, boosting the season total to an FBS-worst 35 — more than 0-7 Akron and 1-6 Old Dominion, who have both allowed 32. The Orange’s offensive line problems can be blamed on a number of different factors, such as Sam Heckel’s opening-game injury and general inexperience. But at the end of the day, there has been little to no improvement as the season has progressed and SU’s offense — from its running game to DeVito’s health — has struggled because of it. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 21, 2019 at 11:54 pm Contact Eric: erblack@syr.edu | @esblack34last_img

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