first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 6, 2014 at 12:10 am There have been false alarms for Syracuse this season. But none like this. None this loud.In the Orange’s 28-6 loss to Louisville on Friday night, the Carrier Dome touchdown horn sounded off twice in three plays. The Orange didn’t score on either of them.The first was a pass from running back Prince-Tyson Gulley to wide receiver Ben Lewis, which Lewis caught in the end zone and celebrated before right tackle Omari Palmer was flagged as an illegal man downfield. The second was an end-around wide receiver pass from Jarrod West to a wide-open Lewis, which Lewis missed before staring at the ground in disbelief.Each horn added a punctuation mark to an unfinished sentence — two reminders that Syracuse’s offense, at present, can’t even hang in games.“It’s like working all week and not getting your paycheck,” SU offensive coordinator George McDonald said of those missed opportunities. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) didn’t earn a payday, but there were factors aside from miscommunication and lack of execution that led to the 22-point loss.First, H-back Brisly Estime, top target Ashton Broyld and right tackle Ivan Foy all sat with injuries. Louisville’s run defense came in as the best in the country and held the Orange to a season-low 59 yards on the ground. Finally, Terrel Hunt didn’t look 100 percent after being banged up against Notre Dame then having to leave the game after he was injured on a hit in the fourth.But the loss still looked something like this: SU’s offense scored six points on two field goals and gave up four points on two safeties — the first of which came on a shotgun toss to Adonis Ameen-Moore that sent him into the end zone. The Carrier Dome was essentially empty when the game clock finally ran out.The offense didn’t execute, the defense bent then finally broke and nothing in Syracuse’s play or postgame assessment of it showed that the execution problems are going to subside. If anything is certain after five games, it’s that Syracuse isn’t ready to compete for wins in the ACC this year.“I think there’s a huge misconception of what toughness is. Toughness isn’t just the physicality of it,” SU head coach Scott Shafer said after the loss. “Toughness is the ability to get your mind in a very nice place where you can execute better and find that balance. That’s toughness.“Being soft is not having the fortitude to be able to say to yourself, ‘I’ve got to stop thinking about the negatives.’”The injuries and the opponents that Syracuse could hardly control were only compounded by the mistakes it could have.“If they score six points, we have to hold the other team to five,” junior cornerback Julian Whigham said when asked if the lack of finishing frustrated the defense. It’s almost an impossible reality to win in, much like eliminating enough of these errors before No. 1 Florida State visits the Dome on Saturday is a tall, tall order. Some mistakes can be fixed in preparation. Like running on third-and-10 only to lose 2 yards, checking to a toss on your own goal line only to give up a safety and telegraphing an interception a play after the defense got you the ball.Then there’s not knowing how many timeouts are left at the end of the first half, moving backward instead of forward in the red zone and otherwise playing with an offense that nearly outscored itself in 60 minutes of play. No amount of defense, toughness or time in the film room can heal those kinds of wounds.“It’s tough because when you’re not finishing, it’s not necessarily a function of the scheme. We got to continue to look at it,” McDonald said.And while Syracuse looks at that, it’s hard not to look at the coming weeks and see a season that is all too close to being defined. The Seminoles are next, then Wake Forest and Clemson on the road.Add in Hunt’s uncertain status. Add doubts about Broyld, Estime, Foy and third cornerback Wayne Morgan’s health, too. Then add fake touchdown horns and it all really starts to sting. Commentslast_img

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