Cohen: Missed chances on both sides of ball spell doom for Orange

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ CINCINNATI — Dropped passes can haunt a wide receiver. They can infiltrate the mind, make camp and percolate, boiling over at the most inopportune times on some of the most innocent of throws.But drops can torment defensive backs just as easily. Those players whose chances for glory are few in number and whose blunders border on blasphemy in the eyes of their fans.Combine the two and you have a recipe for distress, disappointment and defeat. Combine the two and you have Syracuse’s loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.A drop by wide receiver Jarrod West in the end zone coupled with drops by cornerbacks Ri’Shard Anderson and Brandon Reddish on sure-fire interceptions left at least 14 points — possibly as many as 17 or 21 — on the board in a 35-24 loss to the Bearcats.“When we’ve won, we’ve executed and made plays,” Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said. “When things go on like this, we haven’t done those things. Not that we haven’t had the opportunity. And I think that’s the most frustrating part of it.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn Saturday, the opportunities were plentiful.As early as the first quarter, Syracuse was presented with a chance to make the game-changing play that so frequently eluded the Orange or went to its opponents in losses to Rutgers, Minnesota and Northwestern. So when Munchie Legaux — Cincinnati’s less-than-accurate quarterback whose erraticism is both entertaining and an epidemic — telegraphed a pass to Kenbrell Thompkins, SU was handed a gift.Cornerback Ri’Shard Anderson undercut the route beautifully, knowing he had safety help over the top, only to watch the ball clang off his hands and fall to the turf. He redeemed himself by intercepting Legaux later in the game, but that should-have-been pick would have given Syracuse the ball with tremendous field position on the Bearcats’ half of the field.Legaux’s questionable decision making resurfaced in the third quarter — Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones even replaced him with two other quarterbacks for much of the game — on a third-and-14 in his own territory. His pass soared well over the head of his intended receiver, Anthony McClung, and the pass instead hit SU cornerback Brandon Reddish in the chest along the left sideline.Reddish, who was alone with his thoughts on the green turf of Nippert Stadium, would have coasted to the end zone for a touchdown had he held onto the ball. But like Anderson, he too failed to secure the ball without a Bearcats defender in sight, taking a sure seven points off the board that could have given Syracuse a 10-point lead.“Every game you feel like you leave plays out on the field,” defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. “But it hurts worse when you come to a loss. We couldn’t count on the offense to keep us in it, because the defense kept just letting big plays go.”Bromley’s last sentence could really have a second meaning based on the two critical dropped passes that the SU offense dropped as well, though he didn’t mean it that way. Because while Reddish and Anderson stumbled on two opportunities for takeaways, ones that linebacker Marquis Spruill said could have won the game, West whiffed on a perfect pass in the end zone that would have trimmed an 11-point deficit to four, maybe even three, with 12 minutes and change remaining.Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw deep down the left sideline to West, who had a half-step advantage on Cincinnati cornerback Trenier Orr. His pass was beautiful, a high-arching spiral that landed softly in West’s hands in the front left corner of the end zone.But what should have been a 29-yard touchdown caromed from West’s hands, to his chest, to his facemask before it bounced away.Earlier in the game, Nassib appeared to have tight end Beckett Wales open for a quick pass in the end zone on a third-and-6 from the Cincinnati 8 yard line. His pass lacked velocity, a floater that should have been a bullet, so by the time Wales got his hands on the ball, UC linebacker Greg Blair hit him in the chest and dislodged the football.“We thought we moved the ball well on those guys, and we thought we could have gotten anything we wanted,” Nassib said. “We just really hurt ourselves.”And as those four passes fell through the hands of four different Syracuse players, the team’s chances for a third straight win slipped away simultaneously. Drops can hurt receivers — West will tell you that — but they can also plague a defense as SU learned on Saturday.“We had it, then we lost it,” Spruill said. “A couple key plays here and there really won them the game.”Michael Cohen is a staff writer for The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.  Comments Published on November 5, 2012 at 1:53 amlast_img

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