Stock watch: Lines up, Moe Neal down

first_imgSyracuse (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) pulled off one of its biggest upsets in program history over the weekend when it beat then-No. 2 Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC), 27-24. The Orange scored on its first drive of the game and never trailed, smothering Clemson’s offense for just 113 yards on the ground, less than half of the Tiger’s previous average of 237.3 yards per game.Here’s a look at some of the notable performances from Friday night.Stock upThe trenchesYes, Clemson’s monstrous front four led the way in a six-sack performance for the Tigers. Forget that number, though, because Syracuse’s offensive line showed up on Friday. It got enough movement in the run game to allow senior running back Dontae Strickland to rush for more than four yards per carry for the first time this season. That forced Clemson to respect Syracuse’s ability on the ground and opened the airways for junior quarterback Eric Dungey to pick apart man-to-man coverage.Defensively, SU’s bigs performed just as well, recording four sacks that pushed Clemson back a total of 30 yards. Just before halftime, redshirt junior tackle Chris Slayton threw Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant to the turf so hard that it knocked Bryant out of the game with what Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney called a concussion. In the run game, SU held Clemson to 113 yards — just 24 of those came outside of the long touchdown runs — making it difficult for the Tigers to establish any sort of offensive rhythm. That started up front.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAndy Mendes | Digital Design EditorEric DungeyDungey drove SU’s offense with both his arm and his legs. On the game’s opening drive, he ran for two first downs and capped the 10-play set with a perfectly executed screen to Dontae Strickland for a touchdown. In the third quarter, he took off for a 45-yard run that showed he’s simply faster than most defenders. Then, he dropped a dime over the defense and into the arms of Steve Ishmael for another go-ahead score. His passing precision and speed made him the best player on the field.Dungey finished with 61 yards on the ground and 278 through the air. He threw three touchdowns. A lot went right for SU to beat the defending national champions, and Dungey was in charge of it all.Dino BabersBabers made a lot of predictions ever since being hired late in 2015, the most famous being his team would finally get a grasp of what he was trying to do by the sixth game of his second season. With a one-game grace period, SU football achieved its greatest achievement since long before Babers arrived by upsetting Clemson. He deserves credit for orchestrating it all.For Syracuse’s head coach, the victory has to do more than just add one more to SU’s win-column. It will help in recruiting and negates any struggles that existed early in his tenure. Babers and his program will likely feel the effects longer than this season.Stock downMoe NealThe sophomore running back started strong, getting the first carries for SU to open the game. He went 11 yards on his first touch and eight on his next. But then he got one more touch after that and didn’t see the ball once in the second half.Neal is fast. That speed can be dangerous, as exhibited by some of his big plays early on this season. But he has not been a part of the offense for a few weeks now, and if Strickland continues to run like he did against Clemson, it doesn’t seem like Babers will go out of his way to get Neal meaningful action.Secondary depthThe secondary’s play is not what’s being as labeled as stock down; Clemson did not even throw for a touchdown. The secondary’s health, however, is something to keep an eye on. Graduate transfer safety Jordan Martin left the game in the first half and did not return to play defense; he joined the kickoff unit with a cast on his left arm and hand. Sophomore corner Scoop Bradshaw also left early and returned to the sideline with his right arm in a sling.Syracuse survived a second half without the two of them in secondary, so it’s not as if the defense is doomed if neither can play against Miami this weekend. But depth helps, especially when SU’s offense can move quickly to leave little time between defensive possessions.Sterling HofrichterThe redshirt sophomore played himself into Ray Guy Award territory early on in the season as one of the nation’s best punters. But Friday’s game against Clemson marked the second straight week in which Hofrichter did not perform to his usual standards. In five punts, he averaged just 36.8 yards. However, he did not allow a single one to get returned, with four being fair caught and one being downed by SU’s coverage team. Comments Published on October 15, 2017 at 9:21 pm Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more