In a game that often seemed like a visual homage to century-old football, the Syracuse Orange defeated the Pitt-iful Panthers 28-13 at Yankee Stadium. If you missed watching this game live, you may be surprised to learn that the Orange offense was not only efficient, but downright stifling in some areas.

Here’s how SU got there, with its back against the wall:

A return to innovation

Syracuse didn’t need to rely on new things like the forward pass to win today. No, they opted for a much simpler strategy, one that allowed Service Academies and some other programs like Georgia Tech to dominate for many years: bulldoze everyone. The Orange ran a small variety of running packages, relying heavily on the Wildcat and many pre-snap moves.

Syracuse had 399 total offensive yards – 382 were on the ground.

The biggest variation from that was Garrett Shrader’s only completion of the day, a 5-yard touchdown pass to Max Mang on the first drive. It is Also a variation in that it was SU’s first touchdown on an opening possession of a game this season. While Shrader returned to action and started the game at quarterback, one former QB stood out the most in another role.

Thunder Dan is the man

The Orange finally sent Villari. Good things happened. That’s all the proof you need of our credibility.

Seriously, no one saw this coming. Dan Villari DOMINATED and all he had to do was run up the gut and fend off tackles left and right. He had 17 carries for 154 yards and a TD that gave SU a comfortable pad early in the 4th quarter.

While I was counting on a big day from LeQuint Allen (who finished with 102 rushing yards in front of his family), it was the Long Island native who had a career day in a completely unexpected way.

There are few on the team who deserved it more than the converted TE who still came out to compete in a dark situation. That said, he’s not the only one who hasn’t given up.

Bellamy breaks through

The Mob finally got the turnovers they were looking for, four of them in fact…and Jayden Bellamy had two, including a pick-six to put ‘Cuse up by 8.

In total, the turnovers gave 21 points to a team that struggled to turn defensive stops into offensive production.

Individually, the emergence of the Notre Dame transfer in SU’s secondary has alleviated some issues present in the middle third of the schedule. For all the slack Dino Babers has had recently (much of it warranted), he absolutely nailed this offseason addition.

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