'Cats secondary must make vast improvment
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib set single-game school records for completions (44), attempts (65) and yards (470) against the 'Cats secondary, and that was with Alec Lemon, the Orange's leading receiver in 2011, sidelined with an injury.
"For about 45 minutes we played much better football on defense than we did the whole year last year," Fitzgerald said. "The other 15 minutes are things we have to get fixed."
Syracuse scored four straight touchdowns in the second half in the Carrier Dome, where the temperature was 95 degrees with 89-percent humidity, so fatigue may have been a factor. Fitzgerald said he lost eight pounds coaching from the sidline.
"Our whole defense lettered in the first game," Fitzgerald said. "We played [95} plays. That's a recipe for disaster."
Northwestern was flagged for pass interference four times. Cornerback Demerius Dugar drew three flags. In each case, he was in decent position but had his back to the ball.
"We had great coverage in those situations," Fitzgerald said. "We have to look back and play the ball. Obviously, that's what we coach the guys to do and we didn't do a good enough job doing that. We take that responsibility on our shoulders. We'll be better. If we do that we probably intercept two out of three of those balls. That's the next step we have to make."
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