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By now, you know that Ryan Nassib set a school record with 5 TD passes in this game. Not bad for a guy making his 3rd career start and with the way the game appeared to be heading in the first half. Nassib finished 19 for 28 for 260 yards overall.
Sure, it is Maine, I get it. But that game is a model of the type of QB Ryan Nassib can be before it is all said and done in his Syracuse career. The arm strength has always been on display, but this game was a flash of what he can do when the rest of the game catches up to him. He is not going to throw 5 TD’s game in and game out, but he demonstrated tremendous confidence in the 2nd half and it was fun to watch him connect to Provo, Chew, Lemon, and Cruz out there for six.
A very telling thing was that several players, when prompted by reporters or not, noted the swagger he showed in the huddle during this game. The offensive players interviewed after the game (Jose Cruz, Nick Provo, Van Chew, Alec Lemon) noted how he had command, emphasized every play call in the huddle, and had a great aura of confidence around him. All of them said they knew who their leader was out there on this night.
What do you gain by playing Maine? (Ugg. Bad Johnny Cochran reference there). You show a quarterback what he can do when things go his way, that is what.
Loved to see Nick Provo get more involved in the passing game. Frankly, the opportunity presented itself even before Aaron Weaver got hurt this week, but it was even more important once he did get hurt.
Provo finished with 5 catches for 85 yards and the easiest TD catch he will have in his life (how did he get so open on that play? Yeesh, Maine secondary).
I asked Doug Marrone after the game about getting Provo more involved in the offense. Marrone admitted a big goal in this game was to do just that.
“We had a little plan for him.” Marrone said. “He hasn’t gotten off to a start that he has wanted or that we have wanted. We wanted to make sure that we had stuff locked in for him to be able to get him the football, and he did.”
Provo told me after the game that the coaches had been challenging him all week to step up in this game and that they would put him in a position to make some plays.
We’ll hold off on calling him the next Chris Gedney, but I think stats like we saw today from Provo can be a regular thing if Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hacket play their cards right.
What a TD catch by Jose Cruz. Syracuse had to have it with a momentum shift needed in the game and of course the risk and reward of going for it on 4th and 4. He made a heck of a move on the ball to maintain possession and stay inbounds just enough to make it count.
Frank Ordonez/The Post Standard 2010
Cruz isn’t the pass threat that Provo can be. He is, by his own admission after the game, the guy who blocks and makes the small catches. But maybe Syracuse found itself a little red zone threat here.
There was a bit of a debate in the press box on whether Doug Marrone should have gone for it on that 4th down play where Cruz caught the touchdown. If you have been reading me for any length of time or listened to my radio show, you know where I stand on that debate.
Give me the guy who goes for it in that spot. Every time.
Van Chew has been a great story to follow these first three games. Now, anyone who watched this game knows Maine had some severe coverage breakdowns in the second half, but no matter. Chew makes terrific catches every game, is finding his groove in getting open and getting underneath coverage, and has clearly become Nassib’s 1 target. All the more important with Aaron Weaver out for the season. 7 catches for 113 yards and a TD vs the Black Bears.
The greatest thing about his story to me is that he is overcoming a bit of a size disadvantage to do all this. He is 6’1 170, but doesn’t look it. I mean, don’t take it the wrong way, Van, but the kid walks in the room and you want to hand him a cheeseburger.
Doesn’t matter. He is making it happen one way or the other and it can only get better from here.
Good, solid game for Alec Lemon (again, attach coverage breakdowns disclaimer here). 5 catches, 58 yards, 2 TD. That will get you a mention here for sure.
Chandler Jones was everywhere in this game. Everywhere. 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles. Bit of a scare when he had to go to the locker room for a bit in the 3rd quarter (he was bleeding from the mouth) but all was well.
Obligatory Derrell Smith reference. 9 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble. Yawn Same old from Derrell.
Bonus points for his humor during the postgame presser.
How about Malcolm Cater making the most of his late game reps with 5 tackles, a sack, and registering on the Richter Scale for some of those thunder shots he landed on some unfortunate Black Bears. Looking forward to seeing more of him.