After losing 23-17 to Penn State on Saturday, this week the Orange prepares for Northwestern, but first, must address the mistakes they made in the hard-fought loss.
Leading up to the game, SU offensive coordinator George McDonald said he shared head coach Scott Shafer's philosophy of 'controlled chaos'. But, with several new faces in new roles: Shafer at head coach, offensive coordinator McDonald, defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and a new quarterback in 5th-year senior Drew Allen, at times, control was an issue.
After the game, Shafer admitted being on the sideline was new to him after years of being up in the coaches booth as defensive coordinator.
"It wasn't bad...it's different," Shafer says. "This is the first time I've been on the field in a long time. There's a lot more chaos down there, even figuring out what button to push [on the headset] to get the offense and defense..something as silly as that. In the head of the moment, you have a few seconds to make a decision, so I can do a better job with that."
While coach to coach communication was not particularly smooth, the coach to player communication caused chaos at times as well. The Orange was penalized eight times for 70 yards, four of those penalties (two false starts, an illegal formation and a delay of game) came before the snap, costing the Orange 20 yards in offense, paralyzing some drives.
That communication struggled on the player to player level as well. On multiple occasions, Drew Allen and his receivers were not on the same page, resulting in Allen going a mediocre 16 for 37 is passing. Allen said, at times, the offense had moments of greatness, but when they struggled, the lack of communication played a factor.
"There were times when it wasn't so great," Allen said after the game. "In those times it wasn't so great, our communication kind of broke apart."
Both of Allen's interceptions looked like they were the result of a miscommunication. In the third quarter, he locked on to receiver Adrian Flemming, almost like he was waiting for him to break back to the ball. While Flemming took his route up the field, Allen threw it inside and short, where Stephen Obeng-Agyapong was waiting for the interception.
On the team's last drive of the game with about two minutes to play, the Orange was within striking distance on their own 44, a touchdown and an extra point would have given them the lead. Faced with a 3rd and 10, Allen looked downfield on the sideline to Jeremiah Kobena. This time, Kobena kept streaking down the field, while Allen threw what looked like a back shoulder or comeback route-type throw. Trevor Williams was waiting instead for the game-clinching interception.
New to the system and the team, Allen is looking to establish a rapport with those receivers as the season progresses, as on Saturday, he showed he had the physical tools, but maybe not the cohesive relationship with the wideouts just yet. The communication, with the coaches and with the players, is something he's looking to work on this week.
"It's the first game," Allen says. "We have 11 more guaranteed. We've got one next week against Northwestern, we're going to correct those penalties before the snap, and come back next week strong."