Troubles on the ground in this week’s stock watch

first_img Published on October 8, 2018 at 12:27 am Contact Andrew: aegraham@syr.edu | @A_E_Graham Facebook Twitter Google+ PITTSBURGH — Syracuse (4-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) dropped an overtime game to Pittsburgh (3-3, 2-1), 44-37, on Saturday at Heinz Field.The Orange struggled to defend the run and didn’t carry the ball particularly well itself. So despite a dominant day from Alton Robinson and a career-long go-ahead kick from Andre Szmyt in the fourth quarter, the Panthers triumphed.Here’s whose stock rose and fell after the weekend.Stock upAlton RobinsonAdvertisementThis is placeholder textRobinson blew up blockers Saturday, forcing two fumbles, sacking Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett twice and picking up two other tackles for loss.On Pitt’s fifth play from scrimmage, freshman wideout Shocky Jacques-Louis took a jet sweep to the right side. Robinson, playing on that edge, shot off the line and smothered Jacques-Louis, knocking the ball out in the process.In the fourth quarter, Robinson collapsed the pocket and raked Pickett down from the front, knocking out the ball out for a sack fumble.Halfway through the season, Robinson has six sacks, tied with teammate Kendall Coleman, and Robinson’s stock continues to rise.Andre SzmytSyracuse’s redshirt freshman kicker has been nearly lights out this season, making 16-of-17 attempts.On Saturday he hit a career-long 54-yard field goal that put Syracuse ahead, 37-34, late in the fourth quarter. He split the uprights twice more,  going a perfect three-for-three.Through six games, Szmyt leads the country in field goals made.Stock downEric DungeyDungey had a pedestrian performance Saturday — 18-for-38 for 195 yards, two total touchdowns and three giveaways. He wasn’t the reason Syracuse lost, but he could’ve been the reason they picked up a conference road win. He wasn’t that either.Dungey’s first interception came on a slant to Sean Riley where Dungey missed a dropping defensive lineman and threw it straight to him.The second pick was a misplaced throw to the end zone on the Orange’s first offensive play of overtime. That ended the game.As a four year starter and a part of ESPN’s Heisman watch for the first part of the season, Dungey wasn’t as good as he can be, and that’s not good enough for SU.Run defensePitt’s top two running backs netted a combined 299 rushing yards. A week before, Travis Etienne led Clemson’s comeback with 203 yards and three touchdowns.Syracuse’s run defense has struggled, letting down an otherwise solid defense. Linebackers have been swallowed up by blocks, or have been out of position, and defensive backs have taken poor angles to stop big runs.But the real issue is poor tackling. Tackles for loss become short gains which become long runs, and eventually touchdowns.Heading into a bye week, fixing the run defense needs to be the top priority.Running the footballConversely to stopping the run, on offense, Syracuse needs to get back to running the football like it did before Clemson.Against Pitt, it seemed like SU would, as Dungey, Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal each averaged more than four yards a carry. Dungey was the only one to eclipse double-digit rushes (13), though, while Neal (9) and Strickland (8) failed to reach that figure.Syracuse consistently got yardage on the ground handing off and keeping the ball in Dungey’s hands. It just didn’t do it all that often.The run game wasn’t bad — SU finished with 177 net yards — and it never seemed to slow as ball carriers churned out 4.2 yards a carry, except when the Orange went away from it.center_img Commentslast_img

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