D.O. Sportscast: The true hero in Clemson was the Smokin’ Pig

first_imgSyracuse (4-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) nearly defeated then-No.3 Clemson on Saturday in Death Valley. But in the second half, Clemson erased a 10-point SU lead to win 27-23. On this D.O. Sportscast the beat writers break down the Clemson game, discuss what it means in the larger context of the season and look forward to the Orange’s matchup with Pittsburgh. SCHAFER: And we’re back! The D.O. Sportscast — Josh Schafer here with Andrew Graham and Matt Liberman. We’re gonna break down Clemson a little bit, talk a little bit about what’s going on with Syracuse football in general and get into next Saturday but first, guys, let’s talk about Clemson, South Carolina a little bit. I kinda like that place. LIBERMAN: That place was very nice. GRAHAM: I should’ve found the transfer office. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSCHAFER: Matt, favorite part of the trip to Clemson. LIBERMAN: Well, the first thing that I noticed being around the whole Clemson-Greenville-Spartan area is just, it screams moneybags. Everything around any road — everything is perfectly trimmed, the hedges are beautiful, I drove by the Greenville airport and they had a geyser. Everything around it was just beautiful. It was serene. But if I had to pick my favorite thing: In Memorial Stadium, they have a giant monitor and two monitors beside it, and when they call third down, they have a tiger appear on it and roar third down. And I saw that, and I was like “Wow, that’s really cool.” SCHAFER: Andrew? GRAHAM: I’m actually gonna take us out to Pendleton, South Carolina, I believe, and I think Schafer and I might have the same favorite thing, but the Smokin’ Pig. Shout out. A top five meal I’ve ever had. SCHAFER: That pig — there is no way that I could pick anything but that pig. GRAHAM: Yeah. SCHAFER: The brisket was so tender. I had something called Sweet Potato Crunch, still don’t know what it was — GRAHAM: Unreal. SCHAFER: Apple cobbler came as a side. They said, we’re gonna give you dessert. GRAHAM: And it was seasonal so it was apple cobbler. If we had been there a couple weeks earlier, it would’ve been peach season. SCHAFER: So I would’ve downgraded my meal, I’m very happy I got apple cobbler. GRAHAM: You’re telling me you would rather have apple over peach cobbler?LIBERMAN: Apple, any day.SCHAFER: Yes. Apples and oranges. Anyway. GRAHAM: Apples and peaches. SCHAFER: Andrew, how important was that game in the overall landscape of, let’s say the season, the program, in general how important was it? GRAHAM: It was an important game, I mean anytime you have a chance to play a team as good as Clemson, it’s important. That’s a game you look forward to, that’s a game to measure to. And I think if you look at — obviously Syracuse beat Clemson last year, but lost every game afterwards. Finished 4-8 the last two years. Just hasn’t been really relevant in recent seasons. And I think if you look at Syracuse this season, people are talking about getting ranked, people are talking about making a bowl game and winning a bowl game. People are even saying they could win maybe 10 games now. So if you think about — and that’s after a loss — they almost beat the number three team in the country, I think it was important for Syracuse to show just how far it’s come. And it did. LIBERMAN: On the flip side, I look at this as a huge missed opportunity. I mean, I’m one of the believers who thinks they had this game won. I think the entire team thought they had this game won, I think the entire coaching staff thinks they had this game won. If they had won, I don’t think it’s that ridiculous to say they would’ve made a New Years day bowl game. SCHAFER: Hm. LIBERMAN: Let me explain. You win that game, you’re 5-0. The ACC is very down this year, just in terms of overall talent. Pitt isn’t like it has been in past years, Florida State clearly not like its been in past years, Louisville not like its been in past years, Wake Forest not like its been in past years. Looking at the remaining schedule, there are two very hard games and there’s one decently hard game. NC State coming in is a very hard game because of Ryan Finley’s talent. I think that when you play Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium I think that’s a very hard game. GRAHAM: And Notre Dame, they’re looking like playoff contenders. LIBERMAN: Notre Dame is certainly a playoff contender. And I think B.C. is a decently hard game, but I think that when you look at those three games, Syracuse will definitely win one. And then if you look at the remainders on the schedule, probably worse than Florida State. GRAHAM: Well, they did lose to Florida State. SCHAFER: You know a team has to win 11 games to make a New Years Six game. LIBERMAN: 10. SCHAFER: Still. GRAHAM: I think they could even get there with nine, I mean think about how many bowl games there are these days. SCHAFER: Yeah, but we’re talking about a New Years Six bowl game. So there’s only six. GRAHAM: New Years Six is different than a New Years day game. New Years Six, no. SCHAFER: Didn’t you say New Years Six? GRAHAM: He said New Years day.LIBERMAN: I meant New Years Six though. GRAHAM: Alright — if we’re talking New Years Six, not a chance. They need to win 10 or 11. SCHAFER: Right. But we just established they’re not playing good teams in the ACC. LIBERMAN: But this is what I’m saying — if they had won this game, you’re now 5-0 with a win over the number three team in the country. SCHAFER: I’m gonna pull up — Syracuse needs to be consistently good, not occasionally great. If they beat Clemson on the road, they’re consistently good through five games, but they’ve fallen off the cliff every other year. So you need to wait and see how they play in a road game against Pitt and how they play in a road game against Wake before we just send them to the Rose Bowl. LIBERMAN: Look, I certainly agree, but what’s something — you can’t predict injuries. I don’t think we’re in the business of saying “Oh, I assume Eric Dungey’s going to miss the last four games of the season.” If you have a perfectly healthy team, I don’t think they go 4-8 last year. SCHAFER: Yeah. GRAHAM: All we can say if it was different, is that it would’ve been different. I think, I mean obviously Dungey’s health is critical to this team, you know, I mean, DeVito has looked fine when he’s played, I don’t think a Dungey injury would be as catastrophic as it’s been in last years — LIBERMAN: No, with this being potentially a huge win in the remainder of the home games, I don’t think it’s that ridiculous to say that they might win 10 games. SCHAFER: I just think that you’re — you’re acting like the Syracuse Orange are the New England Patriots and they win the games they’re favored in. Syracuse has let teams come into the Dome the last two years and choked them away. LIBERMAN: But the point that I’m trying to make is those mediocre teams that Syracuse has lost to in the past are worse this year than they’ve been in past years, and Syracuse is more talented than they’ve been in the past. SCHAFER: Is Louisville this year worse than Middle Tennessee State last year? LIBERMAN: I mean … SCHAFER: That’s debatable. LIBERMAN: They might be. They might be. SCHAFER: I think we could have a whole podcast on that. GRAHAM: Well, we’re on the brink of having one. LIBERMAN: But Wake Forest is worse this year than they were last year. SCHAFER: Andrew, when you look at the game overall, and the few things that Syracuse kinda, we’ll say missed — first downs and I think it was twenty points, what can’t repeat from that second half? GRAHAM: It’s gotta be running the ball both ways. The run defense completely collapsed. Travis Etienne just put the game away for Clemson. He brought them back into it and ended it. He scored all three of their touchdowns, he had 203 yards, a career high. He was one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest reason, that Clemson won that game. On the flip side, Syracuse finished with 61 net rushing yards. Clemson has one of the best defensive fronts, if not the best defensive front, in the country. Syracuse was never going to have an easy time running the ball in that game. So I can’t say that they needed to stick to the run game and find a way to make it work in that game, but going to Pitt, against a team that is not nearly as good up front — still talented, still well coached, Pat Narduzzi is one of, I think, the better defensive head coaches in the country — they gotta be able to get back to running the football. Because you’re not going to win games solely on throwing the ball. SCHAFER: The bigger thing to take out of those two for me is the tackling and the run defense last week. Just because Syracuse was there a lot, linebackers weren’t blocked and didn’t make the plays, safeties came down and missed tackles too. That can happen against anyone. The rushing offense, like you said, it can’t continue honestly, you can’t rush for 63 yards. GRAHAM: There does need to be a commitment — against Clemson, I can’t fault a team for getting away from running the football if it’s not working. There just aren’t many scenarios where you can find them working. SCHAFER: There’s a certain extent of running an offense against Clemson where you just take what that defensive line is giving you. GRAHAM: Yeah. Like, you gotta find ways to make it work. SCHAFER: Matt, what can’t repeat for you?LIBERMAN: Just the overall tackling. When you look at the run defense, there were certainly moments where Travis Etienne just got out and he’s just faster than a lot of the guys. But if you look at the last touchdown that he scored — the second to last one that he scored where he ran from 26 yards out, that was two broken tackles that were missed, essentially, at the line of scrimmage. Ryan Guthrie and Andre Cisco just tried to grab him at his ankle. You gotta meet the guy head on. There were plenty of situations — I mean, the fact that their third string running back was eating against Syracuse, that can’t happen. They were just missing guys, they weren’t wrapping well at the line of scrimmage, and they were just letting Clemson beat them. SCHAFER: Yeah. The tackling overall, especially when you go back and watch it — and Dino pointed it out today, it just wasn’t as strong as we would’ve hoped. But what’s a positive, a trending topic, to look out for as Syracuse continues their season Matt? LIBERMAN: Just overall play in the trenches. When you look at this game, like you said, Clemson is probably the best defensive line in the country. Dino said it might be the best defensive line he’s ever seen last week. And they only allowed one sack. Granted, it was in the final thirty seconds of the game. And you look on the flip side, Syracuse had four sacks, which was above their average for the entire season so far. And you wouldn’t think “hey, I’m going to go do this against the best athletes that I’ve played so far this season.” Kendall Coleman played really well. He’s playing like a man on a mission right now compared to where he’s been in the past. Overall, they’re applying pressure and giving Dungey time. SCHAFER: Andrew?GRAHAM: I’m gonna go with wide receiver play, I think their wide receivers looked really good on Saturday. Jamal Custis had that catch and double coverage, Devin Butler even made a good catch, high pointing a ball through contact. Dungey was really spreading it around you know, I think two players had receptions and every player had at least two including running backs. I think when you look at past teams, obviously Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips were great receivers and Dungey could always go to them, but having — when you can go five wide and trust that you can hit every receiver or three wide with a tight end and a running back, and still be able to throw to all five players who aren’t offensive linemen, that’s gotta be a great feeling as quarterback.SCHAFER: I gotta give a shoutout to the specialists. GRAHAM: Yeah. SCHAFER: Andre Szmyt, specialist of the week for the ACC. Three for three kicking. Hofrichter looked great. GRAHAM: Hofrichter I think had two or three 50 yard plus punts. SCHAFER: Some might say Syracuse made Clemson muff punts. GRAHAM: Eh… SCHAFER: Not exactly. But still, Syracuse pinned Clemson for what was a 96 yard drive to win that game. Like, that’s a good job by the punting team. GRAHAM: Plus Syracuse has the number one special teams unit in the country. LIBERMAN: Yup. SCHAFER: Fun facts from Andrew Graham. Well, we’re gonna shift gears a little bit, and stop being so serious and stiff. We’re bringing on Digital Editor Andy Mendes once again — Andy, what’s up? MENDES: Uh, not much! Just chillin. It’s digital night at The Daily Orange, so I’m thriving. In my element. SCHAFER: We had to bring Andy on for the podcast again, mainly because Andy is from Pittsburgh. So Andy will be traveling with Matt and Andrew this week to where, Andy? Where we headed this weekend? MENDES: To my home. My home in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Where we will be staying. They’ll be doing game things, and I’ll just be with my family. Because they wanted me back. SCHAFER: And so Andy, we wanted to ask you our first question, we’re all gonna pick here. But, so last week Syracuse played the Clemson Tigers. This week they play the Pitt Panthers. Of any large cat, it doesn’t need to be a panther or tiger it can be anything, what is your favorite large cat animal?MENDES: Good question. I’d have to go with the lynx. Just based off the letter combo. It’s a great word for Scrabble.GRAHAM: If you hit that on the triple word score …MENDES: You’re golden.GRAHAM: Yeah.SCHAFER: Matt, what do you got?LIBERMAN: I’m gonna have to go with the black panther. Not just because of cultural reasons recently with the movie, just overall I think it’s an awesome animal.GRAHAM: Uh, snow leopards. I think they’re just one of the better-looking big cats out there. Matt Liberman has actually informed me, very recently, that the Rosamond Gifford in Syracuse has two baby snow leopards, so I might be going to check those out soon.MENDES: Aw.SCHAFER: I’d probably have to pick the most comparable big cat to myself, which is a cheetah, for my speed. I’d also like to give a shout-out to my cat at home, Lu Lu. She is not the biggest cat …LIBERMAN: But she has the biggest heart. SCHAFER: Right. She plays big. So that’s what counts.MENDES: You can visit my cat, Shadow. She’ll be at home.SCHAFER: Shadow is now the Daily Orange Sportscast favorite cat.MENDES: Oh, she’ll be so honored. Behind Lu Lu. SCHAFER: Let’s do Pitt predictions real quick. Andrew, Matt, let’s start off with you guys, and maybe Andy can base his predictions off you guys? Or maybe he has a take I wouldn’t know of? GRAHAM: I’m gonna take Syracuse in this one. I think Vegas has it as Syracuse has 4.5? It opened at, something like that? I’d give Syracuse a bit more than that. I mean, I’m willing to say that they win about, 10 points, two touchdowns? I just think the offense has been clicking, obviously Clemson was a bit of an arbitration, just in terms of the level of defense they’re playing. Pitt is a well-coached team, but I just think Syracuse is a little more talented, and Pitt’s quarterback situation hasn’t been great recently. LIBERMAN: Like you said, Pitt’s quarterback situation has not been good, that said, Syracuse struggles to play at Pitt. Hasn’t won a game there since 2001. I think the game could be a little closer than two touchdowns. I see it being between 7 and 10. I think Syracuse is the more talented team, I think they’re the far superior team overall, but I think that road environment gives Pitt a little bit of an edge, and I think there’s a hangover effect for this game, just such a demoralizing loss that I think that might impact the guys a little bit, they might be slow out of the gate. SCHAFER: Andy, who do you got?MENDES: I gotta go Orange, I gotta go Syracuse. Fun fact about the Pitt quarterback situation, an ex-Pitt quarterback is actually a close family friend. So, the more you know. Connections. Small world. But I gotta go SU, in recent memory, it’s just hard for Pitt to beat ‘em. It’s sad. It’s really great for me though, hold it over all of my friends, back home. They love it.SCHAFER: So, I’m picking Syracuse. And in my beat writer predictions, I’m just going to let Andy write it. And I’m just picking SU because Andy did, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. We’re gonna finish with our 30-second sound offs, we’re gonna save Andy for last because he’s never done one and I’m very curious what he’s gonna say. Andrew, you’re gonna be up first. Ready? Set, go. GRAHAM: It was announced today that Le’Veon Bell is reporting to the Steelers, I believe, on their bye week, Week 7, I believe that’s three weeks from now? SCHAFER: Wrecked my fantasy team. GRAHAM: Yeah, well, I’m getting him back, I was anticipating him coming back this soon. People said a lot aboutLe’Veon Bell. I think he made the right decision in understanding his value to any football team he plays on, and that he should be demanding as much money as he can get because his career could get short on any play. SCHAFER: Graham even saved us a second there, that’s a second less of content there for the listeners, so that’s kind of a sham.GRAHAM: I’m sorry, Paul Schwedelson. SCHAFER: Matt, what do you got? LIBERMAN: So, when you look at Penn State after the game, James Franklin went off about saying that he’s sick and tired of his team being a great team but they need to be an elite team. That said, they looked at an elite team for the entire game only to have what I think what might be the dumbest play call in history. GRAHAM: Wow. LIBERMAN: On fourth and five, Trace Mcsorely was playing unbelievably the entire game, you took the ball out of his hands. He’s played hero ball for a long time, why not let him be one again. SCHAFER: And last but not least, Andy Mendes. MENDES: I just want everybody to know, all the listeners, that I’m currently 2 and 1 in my fantasy football league, and I have won the last three times I’ve played, so obviously I am qualified to be here on the Sportscast. Also, completely unrelated, as of tonight Ansel Algort has been cast as Tony in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story. And I am very upset about it and very heated. Not my Tony. Not my West Side Story. I’m very upset.GRAHAM: Well, new and fresh content for the D.O. Sportscast.SCHAFER: Finally something on a thirty-second sound off that wasn’t sports related. I tell them they can go off every time, they never do. And my favorite part is that I never have to do one. GRAHAM: I’m gonna make you do one. SCHAFER: Not tonight. LIBERMAN: He runs the computer, how are you gonna make him do it? SCHAFER: See this button I’m hovering over? GRAHAM: Click it. SCHAFER: And then I say “this has been the D.O. Sportscast.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 3, 2018 at 12:12 amlast_img