Welcome to our new weekly feature Breaking Math: Syracuse Football. Each week, we'll do our best to zero in on some fancy stats, where exactly the Syracuse Orange stand with them, and if it means anything.
First, a quick recap of the week: Syracuse backup quarterback Eric Dungey (our newest Lord and Savior) was knocked out of this past Saturday's game with an upper body injury. His replacement looks to be a JUCO transfer new to the Orange program, Zack Mahoney.
We all know losing Dungey is a big deal but against LSU that may be a moot point. The reason I do this now is that we clearly have a Dungey-led sample size (ish) to work off and these numbers will probably drastically change next week.
So while it's all nice and shiny, get to know Explosiveness. SB Nation's Bill C came up with this one as one of the Five Factors that teams have explicit control over that lead to success. Explosiveness is, to boil it down, how effective an offense is at creating plays that move the ball down the field (Full Glossary of terms can be found here).
The reason I chose this stat is because of Syracuse's ranking in said stat this week:
So yeah, both defense and offense are pretty darn good so far, but I'm focusing on the offense. The one that's THIRTEENTH IN THE COUNTRY. We've all constantly talked about how Dungey brings a different element to the offense. It's part moxie, part ability and part Tim Lester's game plan. Fact is, the numbers back us up: Dungey makes the offense as good as we've seen since Ryan Nassib was under center. Do I think Syracuse will finish 13th or higher? No. But if we finish in the top 40? Huge. Billy Fucillio huge.
This week versus LSU, we're going to see this number drop and we can basically call the numbers a wash. But the reason to keep it in mind, should Dungey be out long-term, is the same reason Lester shunned QB Austin Wilson: Because Mahoney's got legs.
Anyone watching SU's offense this year can back up what the numbers say: Dungey's mobility was a huge reason for his success (and Terrell Hunt's when healthy). While we may bemoan the idea of a quarterback with less D1 experience than the one he's leapfrogging in order to start against an SEC team, Syracuse has found something in the offense that's working. In a game we were probably going to lose anyway, why not take a shot on a kid who's more adept to that system?
Most importantly: should Dungey mimic Wilson's recovery last season (four weeks), let's come back to this number. Then, and I'm willing to go to Vegas with this, Eric Dungey is the key cog to the best Syracuse offense we've had under Scott Shafer.