Syracuse's loss to USF on Saturday was an embarrassing one for many reasons. While the defense was probably more to blame (Brian will get to that), there are some things we'll need to discuss about the Orange offense as well. Portions of that conversation will trend positive. Others might get a little negative. You should be used to how this goes by now...
|14:56||1st and 10||SYR 12||Run||Morris||Off Tackle R||7 Yard Gain|
|14:22||2nd and 3||SYR 19||Run||Morris||Dive R||3 Yard Loss|
|13:45||3rd and 6||SYR 16||Pass||Lewis||Short R||18 Yard Gain|
|13:15||1st and 10||SYR 34||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range M||Incomplete (Estime)|
|13:09||2nd and 10||SYR 34||Run||Morris||End R||3 Yard Loss|
|12:32||3rd and 13||SYR 31||Pass||Dungey||Deep M||Incomplete|
|9:00||1st and 10||SYR 4||Run||Morris||Dive R||4 Yard Gain|
|8:28||2nd and 6||SYR 8||Pass||Parris||Short M||3 Yard Gain|
|7:52||3rd and 3||SYR 11||Run||Morris||Off Tackle R||2 Yard Gain|
|5:27||1st and 10||SYR 31||Run||Morris||End L||2 Yard Gain|
|4:54||2nd and 8||SYR 33||Option; Run||Dungey||End L||Incomplete (Parris)|
|4:14||3rd and 8||SYR 33||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete|
Play-Call Breakdown: 7 runs, 5 passes
The first quarter was a disappointing one for the Syracuse offense -- possibly made more maddening by the departure from this pretty basic, vanilla play-calling. It's obvious that Tim Lester was aiming to easy Eric Dungey back into his role and as a result, there wasn't much going on in terms of real gains or the team's typical offense. Until the third drive of the quarter, it was all basic handoffs and some drop-back passes. They also failed to start Jordan Fredericks at running back, which seems like a grave error at this point. Moving on...
|14:08||1st and 10||SYR 21||Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||6 Yard Gain|
|13:32||2nd and 4||SYR 27||Play Action; Pass||Lewis||Short M||5 Yard Gain|
|13:00||1st and 10||SYR 32||PENALTY (False Start)||Parris||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|12:31||1st and 15||SYR 27||Pass||Avant||Short R||9 Yard Gain|
|11:49||2nd and 6||SYR 36||Option; Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||1 Yard Loss|
|11:07||3rd and 7||SYR 35||PENALTY (Personal Foul)||Hamilton||N/A||15 Yard Gain|
|11:00||1st and 10||USF 50||Play Action; Pass; Sack||Dungey||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|10:18||2nd and 15||SYR 45||Option; Toss||Philips||End L||14 Yard Gain|
|9:44||3rd and 1||USF 41||Direct Snap; Run||Fredericks||Off Tackle L||7 Yard Gain|
|9:10||1st and 10||USF 34||Play Action; Run||Dungey||End L||6 Yard Gain|
|8:35||2nd and 4||USF 28||Run||Fredericks||Off Tackle L||7 Yard Gain|
|8:03||1st and 10||USF 21||Run||Fredericks||Dive R||3 Yard Gain|
|7:23||2nd and 7||USF 18||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive L||5 Yard Gain|
|6:42||3rd and 2||USF 13||Run; Fumble||Dungey||Dive R||2 Yard Gain|
|5:37||1st and 10||USF 11||Run||Fredericks||End R||1 Yard Loss|
|4:56||2nd and 11||USF 12||Reverse; Run||Hill||End R||7 Yard Loss|
|4:13||3rd and 18||USF 19||Pass||Parris||Short M||5 Yard Gain|
|3:50||4th and 13||USF 14||Field Goal||Murphy||FG is Good|
Play-Call Breakdown: 10 runs, 5 passes
This is another non-typical quarter for Syracuse since it featured one VERY long drive and that was it. But at least the fourth drive of the game began to show signs of what this offense typically is. Dungey was finally able to incorporate some play action (successfully, as he regularly seems to), and once the team got Fredericks into a groove, the attack seemed to be clicking much more. Of course, that was cue to minimize his involvement as the team settled for a field goal. And that goddamn reverse to Jacob Hill... Still, an encouraging drive.
|12:53||1st and 10||SYR 29||Option; Run||Dungey||End L||6 Yard Gain|
|12:23||2nd and 4||SYR 35||Play Action; Pass||Estime||Mid Range R||10 Yard Gain|
|11:53||1st and 10||SYR 45||Run||Dungey||Dive R||3 Yard Gain|
|11:19||2nd and 7||SYR 48||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Incomplete (Estime)|
|11:09||3rd and 7||SYR 48||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive R||0 Yard Gain|
|9:47||1st and 10||SYR 28||Pass||Estime||Mid Range L||8 Yard Gain|
|9:12||2nd and 2||SYR 36||PENALTY (Personal Foul)||Foy||N/A||15 Yard Loss|
|9:05||2nd and 17||SYR 21||Pass||Ishmael||Mid Range L||10 Yard Gain|
|8:31||3rd and 8||SYR 31||Pass||Philips||Deep L||29 Yard Gain|
|7:53||1st and 10||USF 40||PENALTY (Holding)||Abraham||N/A||10 Yard Gain|
|7:47||1st and 10||USF 30||Play Action; Pass||Fredericks||Short R||30 Yard Gain; TD|
|6:52||1st and 10||USF 16||Option; Toss||Philips||End L||5 Yard Gain|
|6:19||2nd and 5||USF 11||Pass||Ishmael||Short L||4 Yard Gain|
|5:49||3rd and 1||USF 7||Play Action; Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||7 Yard Gain; TD|
|4:45||1st and 10||SYR 25||PENALTY (Personal Foul)||Bayes||N/A||15 Yard Gain|
|4:45||1st and 10||SYR 40||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive L||0 Yard Gain|
|4:04||2nd and 10||SYR 40||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Incomplete (Lewis)|
|3:57||3rd and 10||SYR 40||Pass||Philips||Short M||11 Yard Gain|
|3:21||1st and 10||USF 49||Play Action; Pass||Philips||Screen R||12 Yard Gain|
|2:51||1st and 10||USF 37||Pass||Fredericks||Mid Range M||8 Yard Gain|
|2:11||2nd and 2||USF 29||Play Action; Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (Ishmael)|
|2:07||3rd and 2||USF 29||Option; Toss||Lewis||End R||4 Yard Loss|
|1:25||4th and 6||USF 33||Fake FG; Run||Dixon||End R||9 Yard Gain|
|0:50||1st and 10||USF 24||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Incomplete (Hill)|
|0:43||2nd and 10||USF 24||Pass||Ishmael||Short R||6 Yard Gain|
|0:07||3rd and 4||USF 18||Pass||Parris||Mid Range M||11 Yard Gain|
Play-Call Breakdown: 17 passes, 6 runs
THIS WAS AN OFFENSE! Quickly faced with a 14-point deficit to open the third quarter, Syracuse came out firing. And if not for a Brisly Estime drop on a deep ball on drive five, perhaps it turns into a very different game. I'll even take the very uneven pass-to-run ratio (nearly 3:1) because the Orange truly were moving very well through the air. Weeks from now, we'll probably continue to rave about the Riley Dixon fake (and we should). But that shouldn't gloss over what was an excellent quarter for Dungey and Tim Lester, finally re-gaining the moxie and excitement we'd loved so much back in September. Nearly a perfect quarter of offensive football (if only the defense had been able to stop anything...).
|15:00||1st and Goal||USF 7||Pass||Ishmael||Short R||7 Yard Gain; TD|
|9:33||1st and 10||SYR 21||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Incomplete (Estime)|
|9:27||2nd and 10||SYR 21||Pass||Estime||Short R||9 Yard Gain|
|9:11||3rd and 1||SYR 30||Option; Run||Dungey||Off Tackle R||2 Yard Gain|
|8:49||1st and 10||SYR 32||Pass; Sack||Dungey||N/A||9 Yard Loss|
|8:15||2nd and 19||SYR 23||Fumble; Run||Dungey||Dive R||5 Yard Gain|
|7:51||3rd and 14||SYR 28||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Interception|
|7:24||1st and 10||SYR 24||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete|
|7:22||2nd and 10||SYR 24||Pass||Ishmael||Mid Range M||13 Yard Gain|
|7:02||1st and 10||SYR 37||Pass||Philips||Mid Range M||14 Yard Gain|
|6:40||1st and 10||USF 49||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive R||0 Yard Gain|
|6:08||2nd and 10||USF 49||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range M||Incomplete (McFarlane)|
|6:02||3rd and 10||USF 49||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Incomplete (Strickland)|
|5:57||4th and 10||USF 49||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End R||12 Yard Gain|
|5:31||1st and 10||USF 37||Pass||Strickland||Short R||10 Yard Gain|
|5:05||1st and 10||USF 27||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Incomplete (Lewis)|
|5:01||2nd and 10||USF 27||Pass; Sack||Dungey||N/A||8 Yard Loss; Fumble|
Play-Call Breakdown: 16 passes, 1 run
And then it finally happened. And then it happened again. Under siege for much of the contest, Dungey was forced to scramble a ton, rush throws and make quick decisions. Through three quarters, the worst that happened after that was an incomplete pass. But finally in the fourth, he turned it over twice (his first two turnovers for SU). You can't even really blame him given the circumstances. Down big and under pressure, he had to make plays happen. At times, he certainly did. At others, he failed to. These things happen to ANY QB, not just a freshman. He'll learn from them and get better.
- Overall play-calling breakdown: 24 called runs vs. 43 called passes (last week: 29:40). For the second straight week, Syracuse passes way more than they run. For the second straight week, they spent most of the second half passing to try and make up a deficit.
- First half play-calling: 17 runs vs. 10 passes (7:33 in second half)
- First downs: 22 total (7 rushing, 11 passing, 3 penalty; one in first quarter; 9:8:4 last week)
- First down play selection: 10 called runs, 18 called passes (16:17 last week)
- First down play selection on subsequent sets of downs: 5 called runs, 13 called passes (10:11 last week)
- First down plays for five or more yards: 13 (last week: 12)
- Second down play selection: 7 called runs, 15 called passes (8:12 last week)
- Third down play selection: 6 called runs; 10 called passes (4:12 last week)
- Third down conversion: 7-for-15 (3 runs, 4 passes)
- Fourth down conversion: 2-for-2 (2 runs)
- 30 of Syracuse's 73 play calls (41 percent) took place in USF territory (last week, 51 percent of plays took place in the opponent's territory). The Orange didn't make it to midfield until half way through the second quarter, and most of their possessions in Bulls territory took place in the second and third quarters.
- For the second straight week, play action didn't show up until after the first quarter, but overall, play action passes were 4-for-5, for 57 yards and a score. Dungey was also sacked on a play action pass attempt. Still, it's pretty clear that it's effective. The Orange should be utilizing it more, especially if Fredericks is involved early.
- For large portions of the game, rather than alternating sides of the field here and there, play calls would shift either right or left for large portions of time. Perhaps this was due to things the offensive line could or couldn't do in various formations? In general, Dungey was under pressure much more than normal, something that's hopefully addressed going into the UVa game.
- Three of Syracuse's plays went for 15 yards or more. Additionally, Syracuse had nine more plays that totaled between 10 and 14 yards each. USF also committed several penalties to give the Orange first downs (three), which aren't counted there.
- Where things were problematic were negative plays. Through four games, the Orange had cut down on those dramatically. But not so much against the Bulls. In total 12 plays (including penalties) went for either zero or negative yardage. That needs to be halved (at least) by next week.
- Syracuse continued its improved red zone play (a big difference in the scoring, as you probably figured), going 3-for-3 from inside the 20, including two touchdowns.
At this point, we sort of know what this offense is, but Lester seems to resist it at times. The option is an effective tool, but also shouldn't be used to so much that Dungey's getting repeatedly knocked around or throwing ill-fated tosses to Ben Lewis without blockers. The run game was stunningly underutilized in this one, which I'd contend was at least part of the offense's ineffectiveness in the first and final quarters, respectively. Just 73 yards on the ground when you have a well-stocked backfield makes minimal sense. Fredericks needs to see more touches, as he's electric with the ball in his hands. Devante McFarlane was oddly buried all game.
Dungey was not perfect (two turnovers) but he was still very good in his first late-game action playing from behind. His stat line of 262 total yards and three scores is still pretty excellent, especially when you factor in the 62 percent passing as well. That number could've been even higher if not for two drops in the third quarter by Brisly Estime (a nicely placed deep ball that would've set SU up to be down just 17-10 early in the third) and Jacob Hill (nicely floated TD pass late in the third). He can throw a deep ball, but receivers need to be able to catch it too.
Due to conservative play-calling at the onset, we're left to wonder what might have happened in this game instead had Syracuse just set the tempo early. It took four drives for them to truly play "their" game, and by that point, USF had already established the rules of engagement. Six of the team's 10 drives could be classified as "quality" yet the team came away with just 24 points and all of those were clustered into a small space within the game (a 17-minute stretch from late in the second to the first play of the fourth). This team can score, but it can't be expected to put up 40-plus. It's just not happening... this year.
Anything else? Share any and all thoughts below.