Slow start by offense costs Syracuse in 42-29 loss to Southern California

first_img Published on September 9, 2012 at 12:04 am Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_iseman Related Stories DOWNPOUR: Syracuse fails to contain USC playmakers in 42-29 loss at MetLife StadiumGallery: Southern California 42, Syracuse 29Storify: Southern California 42, Syracuse 29 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jeremiah Kobena chuckled when he thought back to the play he didn’t make in the remaining seconds of the first half.Syracuse had a first-and-10 on Southern California’s 20-yard line, and quarterback Ryan Nassib lofted him a pass as he crossed into the end zone. The ball hit Kobena, but Trojans defensive back D.J. Morgan batted down the arching pass. Instead of its first touchdown of the game, the Orange had to settle for a field goal.“I know I should’ve made a play on that ball,” Kobena said. “It wasn’t necessarily miscommunicated; the rule is: if the ball’s in the air, it’s mine.”It was a miscue that reflected Syracuse’s first-half offensive struggles that precluded the team from delivering an early punch to No. 2 Southern California. The Orange (0-2) stuck with the Trojans (2-0) for three quarters, but the team couldn’t overcome the offense’s slow start in a 42-29 loss at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night.When it was over, Syracuse had a four-hour trip home to consider how the early interceptions, dropped passes and inconsistency on offense derailed its upset bid.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We’ve got to start faster. You could sit there and say it was another great performance, it was great this and that, but that’s coming in the second half,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “We’ve got to do that right out of the gate, and I think that’s the biggest thing now is, ‘let’s just go.’”Hackett said there wasn’t an extra emphasis on scoring early because the opponent was USC. That’s simply part of the game plan, regardless of who’s on the other sideline. But against the Trojans, a team that would capitalize on any mistake, it could have changed the game.Especially on a day when USC was sluggish early.On Syracuse’s third play of the game, Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey intercepted a Nassib pass. Then, on the second play of the Orange’s next drive, wide receiver Marcus Sales had a pass slip right through his hands.Syracuse’s ensuing possession ended with a three-and-out after wide receiver Jarrod West missed a catch. The miscues saw Syracuse finish the first half with just three points from a field goal by kicker Ross Krautman.The Orange had the chance to make a statement early, but went into halftime trailing by 11.“There were some situations out there you just wish, ‘Golly, you just make one play here or there, it could really change it,’” SU head coach Doug Marrone said. “We felt we were in it. We were in this football game.”Through two weeks, Hackett said the inconsistency of his offense has been a recurring problem.Hackett called them “mishaps.” He said Nassib played a great game, but he made some mistakes. As did Sales and the SU running backs. The mishaps built up, the hole got deeper and the Orange suffered its second loss of the season.In the bowels of the stadium after the game, Hackett could only shake his head when he thought back to the first half. Southern California piled up 102 more yards of total offense and held the ball for nearly twice as long.“We just got off to a slow start, and what we needed to do is just come together, and just get a good drive going,” Kobena said. “And you see how that worked out for us in the second half.”After a long halftime due to a weather delay, the Orange offense ran more efficiently. A well-balanced attack moved the chains, with touchdowns by Sales and running back Prince-Tyson Gulley cutting the deficit to a mere five points heading into the fourth quarter.USC answered with two quick touchdowns to put the game out of reach, but the Orange tacked on two more scores in the final period. Sales hauled in another touchdown and Nassib finished a 19-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run late to make it 42-29.All told, Syracuse scored 26 second-half points compared to a measly three before the half.The SU offense found a brief rhythm, but the slow start doomed the team in another loss. If inconsistency hadn’t plagued his unit again, Hackett said he could see a different scene playing out on the field.The Orange fell by 13 points, but it could’ve been closer.Said Hackett: “I’d love to play this team again.” Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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