Syracuse opened their league season just about as badly as they could have expected on Sept. 10, falling 49-8 to St. Bonaventure. Sunday, they bounced back with about as good a result as they could have expected, beating reining New York State champ Buffalo 30-5.
With an extra day to prepare for Buffalo and the chance to restore some pride, Syracuse opted for two extra practices.
“Because of our preseason tour to Canada, we had some issues with our defensive structures, so for two weeks we’ve been working on tackle technique and defensive structure for the majority of our practice time,” said Hammerhead coach Bob Wilson.
“Because this game was a Sunday, we had two additional practices. We had a captain’s practice at 6:30 am on Friday, along with our regular Friday practice at five. And then we had another practice on Saturday, so we got in some extra practice time…It’s definitely beginning to pay off.”
So has the tutelage of an Argentine coach based in Montreal who helps with the pack.
“He’s got some particular techniques in terms of scrummaging and mauling, and it’s tremendous. I would say the reason we were able to prevail against a pretty good team is we were able to dominate the scrums, maul off the lineouts, and the penalty count was in our favor,” said Wilson.
“Buffalo was a little undisciplined, and they lost a good number of attacking positions because of indiscipline. I would say the score doesn’t reflect the quality of both teams, or at least Buffalo’s quality. They could have easily had two or three scores if they hadn’t committed some kind of infraction within 10-15 meters of the line.
“They had some good territorial positions, but over the game, the scrumming and the mauling wore them down a bit, and a pretty good effort defensively. We clawed down most of what they threw at us. They had some quick, strong backs, and for the most part our back row did tremendously well in terms of getting across the field to provide some defensive cover.”
With the win, Syracuse sits at 1-1 in Empire Conference play. Saturday they go on the road to 2-0 Binghamton.