After disappointing loss, time for players to take blame

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The reason is simple to understand.Syracuse has the look of a team heading in a downward spiral instead of one heading toward a bowl berth. At 2-4, there hasn’t been anything to show that will change. Not with turnovers and miscues piling up and the hopes of a once-promising team becoming bleaker.Doug Marrone has repeatedly taken the blame for his team’s disappointing start. He’s said it starts with him and that he needs to do a better job. At this point, unless he puts on shoulder pads and a helmet, and lines up at the line of scrimmage himself, there’s not much else he can do.Now the players have to take responsibility. This is on them. Almost every mistake is avoidable.A win on Saturday against No. 20 Rutgers could’ve been a positive step for the program. The game was never out of reach, but once again, Syracuse shot itself in the foot too many times in a 23-15 loss. SU is tied for last in the Big East in turnover margin at minus-10, and it showed why in a forgettable game at High Point Solutions Stadium.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt isn’t hard to figure out how the Orange wound up in this position. The fumbles. The dropped passes. The interceptions. The penalties. Each one a sign that this team doesn’t seem ready to take a step forward.Turnovers are a part of football. They happen and it’s understandable.“Are you going to have some drops? Sometimes you will, depending on coverage and the guy hitting you,” Marrone said. “Are you going to have some fumbles? I’d like to say yes, on a good hit, I can understand that.”Why Syracuse makes so many unprovoked turnovers isn’t as easy to understand. The Orange committed four turnovers on Saturday. Four inexcusable, drive-killing turnovers.The team isn’t where it needs to be or should be. And it will not move in the opposite direction — the winning direction — until the turnovers stop.Marrone knows it and acknowledged as much on Saturday in his postgame press conference, with the frustration clearly high and the disappointment even higher.“But laying the ball on the ground and throwing the ball where we were throwing it at times,” Marrone said, “it’s just very, very difficult to overcome at this point in time where we are as program.”Despite some early head-scratching mistakes, including a 10-yard holding penalty on SU’s first drive that took the team from the Rutgers 25 to the 35, which was followed by a sack of quarterback Ryan Nassib for a loss of 11, Syracuse was still in the game.At the start of the third quarter, the score was tied at 7. The Orange marched down the field and got to the Rutgers 15 — after a false start penalty turned a second-and-7 into a second-and-12 — and though the team failed to get into the end zone, it was at least in field-goal range.But a blown assignment up front let RU’s Jamal Merrell block the kick. Duron Harmon recovered the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown for Rutgers.Still, the Orange was down by a mere touchdown on its next drive. Somehow, Syracuse blew another chance. Just after moving into RU territory, Nassib was sacked and then coughed up the ball. The Scarlet Knights recovered. Nassib would go on to throw two interceptions in the fourth quarter.By that time, the game was out of reach with the score at 23-7 in Rutgers’ favor and Syracuse posing no imminent threat at making a comeback. Possible heroics were nonexistent. Sloppiness and futility prevailed.“It’s really frustrating,” Nassib said. “I mean, you work so hard and then go out there and hurt ourselves. It’s just frustrating.”Both of Nassib’s interceptions landed directly into the hands of Rutgers defenders. Four of Syracuse’s nine second-half drives ended with a turnover.The reason Syracuse lost on Saturday is simple to see. The turnovers ruined its chances of an upset. This isn’t all on Marrone anymore. The players on the field have the responsibility to play smarter and limit their mistakes.Turning the team around starts with them. They need to do a better job.“Coaches can say all they want about it’s their fault and all that,” strong safety Shamarko Thomas said. “But it’s we on the field, we need to hold each other accountable.”Chris Iseman is an assistant sports editor at The Daily Orange where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at cjiseman@syr.edu or on Twitter @chris_iseman. Comments Related Stories SELF-DESTRUCTION: Flurry of 2nd-half turnovers, mistakes by Syracuse lead to frustrating loss to RutgersSyracuse defense shuts down Rutgers’ Jamison in losing effortKrautman’s woes continue in loss to Rutgers; Thomas returns to field after taking bit hit Published on October 15, 2012 at 2:55 amlast_img