Filed under: Former Blue Devils | Tags: Football, Greg Paulus, Minnesota, Syracuse
Talk about ruining your debut in a single throw.
John Elway once said, the best throw a quarterback can make is out of balance on third down. Hopefully for Syracuse’s sake, it’s a lesson Greg Paulus has now learned.
Starting in his first game in football in more than four years, Paulus had a pretty decent game wiped away with a single throw. In the first overtime, after escaping a sack, Paulus tried to force it into the end zone and hit Minnesota’s Nathan Triplett instead. The Gophers would kick the winning field goal in the following possession. It was a bad, bad decision, especially since Syracuse was on the five-yard line. If he simply throws it away, the Orange go up by a field-goal. Considering Syracuse’s defense hadn’t allowed a touchdown in nearly 57 minutes, double-overtime was a real possibility.
First, Paulus actually did played well, even though the game plan was a bit conservative. Even after the Orange fell behind 14-3, Paulus remained poised. He handle Minnesota’s pressure, was unfazed by the blitz and lived off the short passing game, especially the bubble screen for the entire first half.
Paulus’ one touchdown throw came off a beautiful fake bubble screen. The Gophers bought a solid Paulus pump fake and just like that, WR Mike Williams was open 20 yards behind all the defenders.
However, after Syracuse took a 20-14 lead at halftime, Minnesota made the proper adjustments and Syracuse never re-adjusted.
While it will be impossible not to blame the loss on Paulus’ interception, we should not forget that the Syracuse receivers dropped four passes, three crucial ones in the second half. Two drops came on third downs that would have given the Orange first downs. Instead, they were forced to punt both times.
While Paulus played well, looked confident and in control, he did miss some throws throughout the game, especially deep throws. I counted at least two interceptions that were dropped by Minnesota (one in the first half, the other in the second). He also threw into double coverage after a great play-action fake, failing to hit an open receiver down the middle. Also in the second half, Paulus missed an open WR down the sideline, over throwing him at the ten-yard-line. If the throw was good, it probably was a touchdown and Syracuse is up 10 with less than 10 to play.
Overall, Syracuse fans can’t complain too much and I actually look for the blogs to take it easy on Paulus (oddly, my gut tells me people are actually rooting for him). In the end though, it’s just one loss (hell, Syracuse hasn’t won an opener in six years), and Paulus should only get better as the year goes on. Unfortunately , the Orange face Penn State next week, followed by a home game against Northwestern. That could mean 0-3, but did anyone really foresee this team winning more than four games this year?
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