FB : Brown: SU remains perfect but far from impressive

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm A win is a win. Can’t argue that. With a 2-0 start, Syracuse is one-third of the way to bowl eligibility for a second straight year.But it’s hard to say things are looking great for the Orange.Football Championship Subdivision teams like Rhode Island do occasionally hang around with their bigger, stronger, faster Football Bowl Subdivision opponents like Syracuse. But it usually takes a near-perfect game from David and an error-filled game from Goliath for that to happen.That’s not exactly how SU’s 21-14 win over the Rams went down Saturday.‘We’re going to have to play better than we did today if we’re going to beat UMass and the teams to follow,’ URI head coach Joe Trainer said after the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLet that digest for a second.The Rams’ head coach said that even though his team stuck with a Big East program for an entire game and very much had a chance to win in the final minutes, URI needs to play a stronger game to beat its FCS opponents like Massachusetts.Rhode Island committed more turnovers than SU did. The Rams picked up one first down in the first quarter. They lost by seven points.Syracuse harped on its mistakes in execution after the game, saying that’s why things came down to the wire. But that’s not why the Orange only won by one touchdown.URI made those same mistakes on the field, as most football teams do in any given contest. This game was so close because Rhode Island, who finished 5-6 last year and 4-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association, was simply equal competition for SU on Saturday.‘Rhode Island is a very good team,’ SU wide receiver Alec Lemon said. ‘We had a lot of mistakes, and they capitalized on the mistakes. It is hard to win out here. It is college football. It’s very hard to win.’But it shouldn’t be that hard when the team picked to finish eighth in the CAA this year comes to the Carrier Dome. And it hasn’t been that hard in the past.Even last year, when the two FCS teams on SU’s schedule hung with the Orange through the first two quarters, Syracuse pulled away for blowout wins in the second half.In both those games, the momentum turned heavily in Syracuse’s favor when it delivered knockout blows in the third quarter.But the Orange never even took a swing Saturday. With a one-touchdown lead to start the third quarter, the offense went three-and-out. Rhode Island drove 75 yards down the field on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 14-14.What’s more, the Rams actually outplayed Syracuse for 20-plus minutes after halftime. They outplayed SU right up until the Orange put together a game-winning drive and Rhode Island’s final possession that resulted in two sacks and an interception.And since the Rams were so equally matched against SU, they believe they could be an FBS team.‘They just made a few more plays, that’s all it is,’ Rams’ quarterback Steve Probst said. ‘Everyone in our locker room thinks we can play at the (FBS) level, and we proved that today.’Not quite. They proved they could play against Syracuse.A CAA team that had never come within six touchdowns of a Big East opponent proved it could play against Syracuse.The Orange’s reaction?‘A win is a win,’ quarterback Ryan Nassib said. ‘I have been through a lot of stuff, and you realize wins are not easy to come by.’But this one was supposed to be. It was supposed to be a game in which Syracuse fixed whatever needed fixing and looked good doing it. It was supposed to be a romp over an FCS team, a glorified exhibition game the week before SU takes on Southern California.That did not happen.Ultimately, though, Syracuse did leave the Dome with a 2-0 record. It does look nice on paper.Nassib was one of many players after the game to spit out the phrase, ‘A win is a win.’ And now the Orange needs just four more W’s in the final 10 games to reach bowl eligibility.The problem is the Orange could have switched uniforms with its FCS opponent Saturday, and no one would have been able to tell the difference.Zach Brown is a staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @zjbrown13.center_img Commentslast_img read more