Remember when 14 drives managed to be miserable last week? How about 16 drives this week? The wheels have fallen off for the Syracuse Orange offense at this point in the season. You think so, I think so, and plenty of others think so too. Still, we need a full season of data to look at how bad this thing craters out to. And by we, I mean I need a full season of data. Sorry.
|13:13||1st and 10||SYR 22||Run||Fredericks||Off Tackle L||2 Yard Gain|
|12:40||2nd and 8||SYR 24||Play Action; Pass; Sack||Dungey||N/A||3 Yard Loss|
|12:00||3rd and 11||SYR 21||Pass||Parris||Short R||3 Yard Gain|
|10:50||1st and 10||LOU 46||Pass||Estime||Deep L||36 Yard Gain|
|10:22||1st and Goal||LOU 10||Run||Philips||End R||10 Yard Gain; TD|
|8:07||1st and 10||SYR 20||Run||Philips||Dive R||3 Yard Gain|
|7:36||2nd and 7||SYR 23||Run||Fredericks||Dive R||8 Yard Gain|
|7:11||1st and 10||SYR 31||Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||3 Yard Gain|
|6:33||2nd and 7||SYR 34||Run||Philips||Counter L||1 Yard Loss|
|5:53||3rd and 8||SYR 33||Pass||Philips||Mid Range L||22 Yard Gain|
|5:22||1st and 10||LOU 45||Run||Morris||End L||3 Yard Gain|
|4:44||2nd and 7||LOU 42||Run||Strickland||Dive L||1 Yard Gain|
|4:06||3rd and 6||LOU 41||PENALTY (False Start)||Philips||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|3:45||3rd and 11||LOU 46||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End L||10 Yard Gain|
|3:10||4th and 1||LOU 36||Run||Dungey||Dive L||3 Yard Gain|
|2:51||1st and 10||LOU 33||Run||Fredericks||Dive R||2 Yard Gain|
|2:15||2nd and 8||LOU 31||Run||Fredericks||Dive R||7 Yard Gain|
|1:37||3rd and 1||LOU 24||Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||5 Yard Gain|
|1:10||1st and 10||LOU 19||Run||Philips||Dive R||1 Yard Gain|
|0:30||2nd and 9||LOU 18||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Incomplete (Philips)|
|0:26||3rd and 9||LOU 18||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range R||Incomplete (Estime)|
|0:20||4th and 9||LOU 18||Field Goal||Murphy||N/A||FG is Good|
Play-Call Breakdown: 15 runs, 8 passes
The first drive was worrisome (and ended up being a harbinger of what was to come later), but the other two drives showed two examples of an effective SU drive. Drive two takes advantage of great field position with an explosive play and then an interesting handoff to Ervin Philips (why we stopped doing this at some point, I have no idea). The other, a methodical, run-heavy attack that worked until SU started throwing again. That doesn't mean they shouldn't throw. Just pointing out what happened when they did at the end of this drive.
|10:56||1st and 10||SYR 3||Run||Fredericks||Dive L||2 Yard Gain|
|10:20||2nd and 8||SYR 5||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range R||Incomplete (Cornelius)|
|10:13||3rd and 8||SYR 5||Run||Fredericks||Dive L||1 Yard Gain|
|7:34||1st and 10||SYR 15||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range R||Incomplete (Estime)|
|7:26||2nd and 10||SYR 15||Play Action; Pass||Parris||Short R||9 Yard Gain|
|7:01||3rd and 1||SYR 24||Direct Snap; Run||Fredericks||Off Tackle R||3 Yard Gain|
|6:32||1st and 10||SYR 27||Run||Philips||Off Tackle L||9 Yard Gain|
|5:50||2nd and 1||SYR 36||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Interception|
|5:36||1st and 10||SYR 41||Run||Fredericks||Dive L||2 Yard Gain|
|5:00||2nd and 8||SYR 43||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive L||7 Yard Gain|
|4:22||3rd and 1||LOU 50||Run||Dungey||Dive R||3 Yard Loss|
|1:23||1st and 10||SYR 25||PENALTY (False Start)||Palmer||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|1:23||1st and 15||SYR 20||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Incomplete (Philips)|
|1:19||2nd and 15||SYR 20||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (Estime)|
|1:15||3rd and 15||SYR 20||PENALTY (Delay of Game)||Dungey||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|1:15||3rd and 20||SYR 15||Pass||Ishmael||Short L||5 Yard Gain|
|0:38||1st and 10||SYR 13||Pass||Parris||Short L||4 Yard Gain|
|0:34||2nd and 6||SYR 17||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (Philips)|
|0:28||3rd and 6||SYR 17||Pass||Parris||Short M||5 Yard Gain|
Play-Call Breakdown: 11 passes, 6 runs
Syracuse had five drives in this quarter, and just one first down (another was taken away by a botched call too, unfortunately). The Orange didn't really have great field position for the entire second, but 17 plays resulted in 34 net yards and a pick-six. And when they did start moving the ball, Eric Dungey came under too much pressure to do anything. This is also our first Steve Ishmael appearance, which makes little sense given his play-making abilities.
|14:53||1st and 10||SYR 28||Run||Fredericks||Off Tackle L||2 Yard Gain|
|14:18||2nd and 8||SYR 30||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Incomplete (Estime)|
|14:12||3rd and 8||SYR 30||Pass||Ishmael||Deep R||30 Yard Gain|
|13:44||1st and 10||LOU 40||Run||Philips||Dive L||4 Yard Gain|
|13:05||2nd and 6||LOU 36||Option; Run||Dungey||End R||1 Yard Gain|
|12:25||3rd and 5||LOU 35||Pass||Dungey||Deep R||Incomplete (Ishmael)|
|12:19||4th and 5||LOU 35||Field Goal||Murphy||N/A||FG is No Good|
|9:20||1st and 10||SYR 28||Pass||Dungey||Deep L||Incomplete (Estime)|
|9:13||2nd and 10||SYR 28||Run||Strickland||Dive L||1 Yard Gain|
|8:35||3rd and 9||SYR 29||Pass||Strickland||Short M||8 Yard Gain|
|5:11||1st and 10||SYR 14||Play Action; Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete|
|5:05||2nd and 10||SYR 14||Pass||Philips||Short M||8 Yard Gain|
|4:29||3rd and 2||SYR 22||Option; Run||Dungey||End R||2 Yard Loss|
|0:36||1st and 10||SYR 40||Pass||Ishmael||Short M||17 Yard Gain|
|0:05||1st and 10||LOU 43||Pass||Strickland||Short L||8 Yard Gain|
Play-Call Breakdown: 9 passes, 5 runs
So many questions in this quarter, but we start by asking why SU opts for a 52-yard field goal when everyone in the building knew Cole Murphy couldn't be accurate enough to hit from there? Failing to score on a longer drive that could've ended up in the end zone deflated the team's comeback chances. From there, it was playing from behind, going one-dimensional toward the pass (which rarely goes well for this group). We also saw the return of the option. There will be a three-and-out counter later on.
|15:00||2nd and 2||LOU 35||Pass||Parris||Short M||3 Yard Gain|
|14:55||1st and 10||LOU 32||PENALTY (Roughing Passer)||Rankins||N/A||15 Yard Gain|
|14:34||1st and 10||LOU 17||Run||McFarlane||Off Tackle L||0 Yard Gain|
|13:55||2nd and 10||LOU 17||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive R||2 Yard Gain|
|13:10||3rd and 8||LOU 15||Pass||Dungey||Deep M||Incomplete (Strickland)|
|13:04||4th and 8||LOU 15||Fake FG; Pass||Thompson||1 Yard Loss|
|10:16||1st and 10||SYR 30||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Off Tackle R||4 Yard Gain; Fumble|
|9:45||1st and 10||SYR 25||Run||McFarlane||Dive L||4 Yard Gain|
|9:12||2nd and 6||SYR 29||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Interception|
|7:26||1st and 10||SYR 25||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete (Parris)|
|7:18||2nd and 10||SYR 25||Pass||Morris||Screen R||3 Yard Loss|
|6:34||3rd and 13||SYR 22||Pass; Sack||Dungey||N/A||7 Yard Loss|
|5:45||1st and 10||LOU 38||PENALTY (Illegal Downfield)||Trudo||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|5:17||1st and 15||LOU 43||Pass||Philips||Short M||3 Yard Gain|
|4:33||2nd and 12||LOU 40||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End R||16 Yard Gain|
|3:50||1st and 10||LOU 24||Pass||Cornelius||Short L||4 Yard Gain|
|3:27||2nd and 6||LOU 20||Pass||Cornelius||Mid Range R||14 Yard Gain|
|3:04||1st and Goal||LOU 6||Pass||Mahoney||Short M||Incomplete (Ishmael)|
|3:00||2nd and Goal||LOU 6||Pass||Mahoney||Short M||Incomplete (Ishmael)|
|2:54||3rd and Goal||LOU 6||Pass||Mahoney||Mid Range M||Incomplete (Cornelius)|
|2:50||4th and Goal||LOU 6||PENALTY (Pass Interference)||Culver||Short R||4 Yard Gain|
|2:46||1st and Goal||LOU 2||Option; Run||Mahoney||Off Tackle L||1 Yard Loss|
|2:04||2nd and Goal||LOU 3||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Mahoney||Dive R||0 Yard Gain|
|1:17||3rd and Goal||LOU 3||Option; Pitch||Morris||End R||6 Yard Loss|
|0:30||4th and Goal||LOU 9||Pass||Ishmael||Short R||9 Yard Gain; TD|
Play-Call Breakdown: 18 passes, 4 runs
If Dungey wasn't already getting teed off on by this Louisville defense, this is where that intensifies. The roughing penalty is one of a couple cheapshots, and then the hit after his 16-yard run was targeting though never called despite him being knocked out of the game. Beyond that, we saw the first poorly-designed Riley Dixon fake (though it was a completely necessary play-call to fake it), some terrible option and bubble screens, and an eight-play drive inside the 10 that was giving me flashbacks to the 2006 Iowa game.
- Overall play-calling breakdown: 30 called runs vs. 46 called passes (last week: 38:29). The total's a deceptively big number, with 22 in a garbage-time fourth quarter.
- First half play-calling: 21 runs vs. 19 passes (9:27 in second half)
- First downs: 13 total (5 rushing, 6 passing, 2 penalty; 11:3:0 last week)
- First down play selection: 15 called runs, 13 called passes (20:8 last week)
- First down play selection on subsequent sets of downs: 9 called runs, 4 called passes (9:5 last week)
- First down plays for five or more yards: 5 (last week: 12) -- season average is about 12, so this fell WELL short of what they've been doing in this department.
- Second down play selection: 6 called run, 18 called passes (9:13 last week)
- Third down play selection: 6 called runs; 12 called passes (6:10 last week)
- Third down conversion: 4-for-18 (2 runs, 2 passes)
- 34 of Syracuse's 76 play calls (45 percent) took place in Louisville territory (last week, 33 percent of plays took place in the opponent's territory). As has become the norm, however, much of these were confined to a few drives. In fact 21 of those 34 this week came from two drives.
- Play action was just 1-for-2, for nine yards, plus a sack as well. It wasn't really utilized when the team was running the ball, so made even less sense to do it later, when it wasn't handing the ball off much at all.
- "Four playmakers" usage rate: 41 percent (31 out of 76 plays). That number's dropping each week, and even if you add Dontae Strickland in there, there continues to be an avoidance of certain players. As mentioned above, Ish wasn't even involved until the second quarter. WHY?!
- Syracuse had six plays of 15 yards or more (after just two last week against FSU). They also had another three plays gain between 10 and 14 yards (down from seven last week). Those nine plays accounted for 155 of the Orange's ghastly 286 yards. That's an average of 1.95 yards per on the other 67 plays from scrimmage. That's trash.
- Including penalties, 13 plays went for a loss against Louisville. So that, combined with diminishing explosiveness is how you get whatever the offense was on Saturday.
- Syracuse was three for four in the red zone, with two TDs and one field goal. Again, percentage may look nice, but overall scoring is terrible.
- The Orange had 11 drives that were either three-and-outs or ended in a turnover. That's not an offense.
There's a lot of predictable things going on, which is not something we were saying early on in the season. First down's a clear running down and second's a clear passing down. There's little mixing it up anymore in terms of who gets the ball. And when something new was working, like giving Philips handoffs out of the backfield, it was removed from the gameplan shortly thereafter.
Drops have become a bit of an issue for receivers, and not just Philips (who again, is not a wide receiver). I counted four on the day, and all in big spots. Technically, there were three alone on that final drive. Just when the team appeared to get into a rhythm with pass catchers (Brisly Estime, Philips and Ishmael, plus Josh Parris at tight end), they target Alvin Cornelius a bunch in non-garbage time and don't bother using Ben Lewis despite him being back. Strickland saw some touches, however, which is becoming the norm (thankfully).
Syracuse's diminishing first down effectiveness is now a major problem, as you could tell in some of the numbers above. Largely, if the team doesn't create a big gain on first down, it ends up a three-and-out. Among several individual play-calls I hated in this one, however, the worst was the short, telegraphed pass on second and 1 that was ultimately picked off.
One last side note: the offense we saw in the red zone on that final drive is probably more "typical" than anyone would care to admit. Mahoney was tossed out there to get leveled while running the option, and an ill-fated bubble screen also exposed Fredericks to a huge hit he probably didn't need to endure either. "Lucky" for us they got eight tries to punch it in there, however. Much less embarrassing to lose to Louisville's third-string QB by 24 instead of 31... (/sarcasm font)