clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Syracuse football: Breaking down offensive play-calling vs. Boston College

New, 9 comments

Hey, another win! We like wins.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange pulled their record up to an even 4-4 after beating Boston College this past weekend. Penalties, turnovers and the weather were all frustrating elements, clearly. But despite all of that, the Orange offense still put up over 500 yards against a solid Eagles defense, and moved the ball into BC territory with regularity. There are still things to question here and there in terms of execution. But overall, another week of really liking what we’re seeing as this offense continues to come together.

First Quarter

DRIVE 1




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
14:56 1st and 10 SYR 15 PENALTY (Personal Foul) Smith N/A 15 Yard Gain
14:52 1st and 10 SYR 30 Pocket Breakdown; Run Dungey Dive L 21 Yard Gain
14:36 1st and 10 BC 49 PENALTY (False Start) Byrne N/A 5 Yard Loss
14:28 1st and 15 SYR 46 PENALTY (False Start) Conway N/A 5 Yard Loss
14:16 1st and 20 SYR 41 Run Strickland Off Tackle R 6 Yard Gain
14:02 2nd and 14 SYR 47 Pass Estime Screen L 7 Yard Gain
13:34 3rd and 7 BC 46 Pass Etta-Tawo Short L 6 Yard Gain
13:12 4th and 1 BC 40 PENALTY (Offside) Kavalec N/A 5 Yard Gain
13:07 1st and 10 BC 35 Pass Dungey Deep M Interception
DRIVE 2




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
11:29 1st and 10 SYR 25 Run; Fumble Dungey End L 1 Yard Gain
11:15 2nd and 9 SYR 26 Run Strickland Dive L 1 Yard Loss
10:38 3rd and 10 SYR 25 Pass Ishmael Deep R 39 Yard Gain
10:07 1st and 10 BC 36 Run Strickland Dive L 0 Yard Gain
9:35 2nd and 10 BC 36 Play Action; Pass Ishmael Mid Range R 9 Yard Gain
9:19 3rd and 1 BC 27 Pass Ishmael Screen R 15 Yard Gain
8:55 1st and 10 BC 12 Run Dungey Dive R 3 Yard Loss
8:33 2nd and 13 BC 15 PENALTY (False Start) Adams N/A 5 Yard Loss
8:19 2nd and 18 BC 20 Run Dungey Dive L 8 Yard Gain
7:48 3rd and 10 BC 12 PENALTY (Holding) Grice N/A 6 Yard Gain
7:44 1st and Goal BC 6 Run Dungey Off Tackle L 3 Yard Gain
7:21 2nd and Goal BC 3 Run Philips Sweep L 3 Yard Gain; TD
DRIVE 3




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
5:42 1st and 10 BC 48 Pass Etta-Tawo Mid Range R 21 Yard Gain
5:22 1st and 10 BC 27 Run Dungey Off Tackle L 5 Yard Gain
4:54 2nd and 5 BC 22 Pass Etta-Tawo Short L 4 Yard Gain
4:36 3rd and 1 BC 18 Run Dungey Dive R 2 Yard Loss; Fumble
DRIVE 4




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
1:38 1st and 10 SYR 20 Run Strickland Dive R 1 Yard Gain
1:13 2nd and 9 SYR 21 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 9 Yard Loss
0:37 3rd and 18 SYR 12 Run Strickland Dive R 5 Yard Gain

Play-Call Breakdown: 12 runs, 10 passes

Turnovers and penalties were backbreakers early, but Syracuse still managed to score once and make it into Boston College territory three different times. Whether the BC defender was offside or not on that interception (he was), it doesn’t change a demand to make smarter throws deep down the middle. Eric Dungey did have a great throw on the run to Steve Ishmael that showed off the versatility of both as well.

Second Quarter

DRIVE 5




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
13:43 1st and 10 SYR 20 PENALTY (Offside) Landry N/A 5 Yard Gain
13:36 1st and 5 SYR 25 Pass Estime Short M 6 Yard Gain
13:28 1st and 10 SYR 31 PENALTY (False Start) Roberts N/A 5 Yard Loss
13:16 1st and 15 SYR 26 Run Dungey Off Tackle L 31 Yard Gain
12:59 1st and 10 BC 43 Pass Philips Mid Range L 9 Yard Gain
12:42 2nd and 1 BC 34 Pass Etta-Tawo Screen L 8 Yard Gain
12:22 1st and 10 BC 26 Run Neal Dive L 3 Yard Gain
11:53 2nd and 7 BC 23 Pocket Breakdown; Run Dungey End R 8 Yard Gain
11:27 1st and 10 BC 15 Pass Dungey Short M Incomplete (Ishmael)
11:24 2nd and 10 BC 15 Run Strickland Dive R 5 Yard Gain
10:50 3rd and 5 BC 10 Pass Philips Short M 10 Yard Gain; TD
DRIVE 6




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
10:33 1st and 10 SYR 25 Pass Ishmael Short R 8 Yard Gain
10:12 2nd and 2 SYR 33 Pass Philips Short M 6 Yard Gain
9:59 1st and 10 SYR 39 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 5 Yard Loss
9:33 2nd and 15 SYR 34 Pass Estime Deep R 35 Yard Gain
9:07 1st and 10 BC 31 Pass Etta-Tawo Short L 4 Yard Gain
8:46 2nd and 6 BC 27 Pass Philips Short L 5 Yard Gain
8:19 3rd and 1 BC 22 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 1 Yard Loss
7:42 4th and 2 BC 23 Field Goal Murphy
FG is No Good
DRIVE 7




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
6:02 1st and 10 BC 47 Play Action; Pass Etta-Tawo Mid Range L 9 Yard Gain
5:39 2nd and 1 BC 38 PENALTY (Holding) Moore N/A 10 Yard Loss
5:20 2nd and 11 BC 48 Pass Strickland Screen L 2 Yard Gain
4:41 3rd and 9 BC 46 Pass Dungey Short R Incomplete
DRIVE 8




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
0:24 1st and 10 SYR 18 Run Strickland Dive R 4 Yard Gain

Play-Call Breakdown: 16 passes, 4 runs

Dungey showcases a really solid rhythm on drives five and six, keeping the Eagles’ defense off-balance with the threat of the run, while hitting his receivers quickly in stride. His deep ball on the run to Brisly Estime was another excellent throw in a season full of them, and it’s unfortunate momentum took Estime out of bounds given how that drive ended (a missed field goal). The trips set SU uses a lot was giving Boston College fits in this quarter, especially.

Third Quarter

DRIVE 9




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
13:28 1st and 10 SYR 23 Pass Ishmael Short R 7 Yard Gain
13:03 2nd and 3 SYR 30 PENALTY (False Start) McGloster N/A 6 Yard Loss
12:46 2nd and 9 SYR 24 Pass Philips Mid Range L 29 Yard Gain
12:32 1st and 10 BC 47 Pass Etta-Tawo Short L 8 Yard Gain
12:17 2nd and 2 BC 39 Pass Dungey Deep R Incomplete (Ishmael)
12:11 3rd and 2 BC 39 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 10 Yard Loss
DRIVE 10




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
4:28 1st and 10 SYR 14 Pass Strickland Mid Range L 9 Yard Gain
4:14 2nd and 1 SYR 23 Pass Estime Deep L 31 Yard Gain
4:00 1st and 10 BC 46 Pass Etta-Tawo Short L 5 Yard Gain
3:42 2nd and 5 BC 41 Play Action; Pass Ishmael Short R 7 Yard Gain
3:11 1st and 10 BC 34 PENALTY (Personal Foul) Schwab N/A 15 Yard Gain
3:04 1st and 10 BC 19 Pass Philips Screen L 9 Yard Gain
2:40 2nd and 1 BC 10 PENALTY (False Start) Adams N/A 5 Yard Loss
2:25 2nd and 6 BC 15 Pass Philips Short M 10 Yard Gain
1:50 1st and Goal BC 5 PENALTY (Holding) Roberts N/A 10 Yard Loss
1:43 1st and Goal BC 15 PENALTY (False Start) Adams N/A 5 Yard Loss
1:43 1st and Goal BC 20 Run Strickland Dive R 2 Yard Gain
1:17 2nd and Goal BC 18 Pass Ishmael Short R 12 Yard Gain
0:42 3rd and Goal BC 6 PENALTY (False Start) McGloster N/A 5 Yard Loss
0:20 3rd and Goal BC 11 Pass Ishmael Mid Range R 11 Yard Gain; TD

Play-Call Breakdown: 13 passes, 1 runs

Statistically, the third quarter’s been Syracuse’s worst (by far) all season, yet here they manage two drives into BC territory and one score. Adding to the highlights: Dungey’s 31-yard pass to Estime might be the best ball he’s ever thrown, as he dropped it right into his arms past the defender with some precise touch. Frustratingly, SU picked up well over 100 yards on drive 10 when you factor in penalties.

Fourth Quarter

DRIVE 11




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
14:54 1st and 10 SYR 17 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 5 Yard Loss
14:18 2nd and 15 SYR 12 Pass Dungey Short R Incomplete (Ishmael)
14:14 3rd and 15 SYR 12 Pass Etta-Tawo Short L 11 Yard Gain
DRIVE 12




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
9:56 1st and 10 SYR 15 Pass Dungey Deep L Incomplete (Etta-Tawo)
9:51 2nd and 10 SYR 15 Run Dungey Dive L 17 Yard Gain
9:30 1st and 10 SYR 32 Pass Etta-Tawo Deep L 68 Yard Gain; TD
DRIVE 13




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
7:32 1st and 10 SYR 35 Run Strickland Sweep R 1 Yard Gain
6:52 2nd and 9 SYR 36 Run Strickland Sweep L 2 Yard Gain
6:28 3rd and 7 SYR 38 Pass Estime Short R 14 Yard Gain
5:51 1st and 10 BC 48 Run Neal Dive R 5 Yard Gain
5:07 2nd and 5 BC 43 Run Neal Sweep R 2 Yard Gain
4:46 3rd and 3 BC 41 PENALTY (False Start) McGloster N/A 5 Yard Loss
4:38 3rd and 8 BC 46 Run Dungey End L 4 Yard Loss; Fumble
DRIVE 14




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
1:50 1st and 10 SYR 18 Run Strickland Dive L 2 Yard Gain
1:43 2nd and 8 SYR 20 Run Strickland Off Tackle L 5 Yard Gain
1:35 3rd and 3 SYR 25 Run Dungey Off Tackle R 4 Yard Gain
0:59 1st and 10 SYR 29 QB Kneel Dungey N/A 1 Yard Loss
0:23 2nd and 11 SYR 28 QB Kneel Dungey N/A 1 Yard Loss

Play-Call Breakdown: 11 runs, 6 passes

The offense slowed in the fourth, in part due trying to run out the clock. Everyone’s seen Amba Etta-Tawo’s gorgeous touchdown grab by now, but it also should’ve been familiar to most of us. It was the exact same pass Dungey threw on the first play of that drive. And it was also the same exact play that scored similarly long touchdowns vs. UConn and Notre Dame. Let’s keep going to this one.

***

  • Overall play-calling breakdown: 45 called passes vs. 28 called runs. More balanced than last week, but the middle of the game was all-pass, The end was mostly run too, so this is a bit less even than the numbers show.
  • First half play-calling: 26 passes vs. 16 runs (19:12 in second half)
  • First downs: 23 total (14 passing, 6 rushing, 3 penalty; 19:10:3 last week)
  • First down play selection: 18 called passes, 15 called runs (29:12 last week)
  • First down play selection on subsequent sets of downs: 12 called passes, 11 called runs (21:11 last week)
  • First down plays for five or more yards: 15, which is SU’s most since the Notre Dame game (16), and the second straight quality showing in this category against a very good defense.
  • Second down play selection: 17 called passes, 9 called runs (19:14 last week)
  • Third down play selection: 10 called passes; 4 called runs (17:4 last week)
  • Third down conversion: 6-for-14 (3 passes, 2 runs, 1 penalty; 7:3:0 last week)
  • Fourth down conversion: 0-for-0 (4-for-5 last week)
  • This week, 39 of Syracuse's 73 play calls (53 percent) took place in Boston College territory. The Orange’s season average is just over 40, and this is the second straight week over 50 -- quality progress here.
  • Play-action was down, as the lack of a run game and an increased pass rush left little time for it. Eric Dungey was 3-for-3 for 25 yards when using it.
  • Syracuse had 10 plays of 15 or more yards (eight last week vs. Virginia Tech). Of those, five went for 25 yards or more (they had three vs, Virginia Tech). Another six plays gained between 10 and 14 yards. Those 16 total plays accounted for 376 of the Orange’s much-improved 532 yards from scrimmage. That means the other 57 plays averaged just 2.73 yards per. That’s not as good as last week’s, but still a positive compared to most weeks.
  • Including penalties (and there were plenty of those) and QB kneels aside, 21 plays went for a loss. And another went for zero yards. That’s a startling commentary on just how much offense was left on the field, despite SU managing over 500 yards on the day.
  • Syracuse was 3-for-4 in the red zone, and all three of those scores were touchdowns. It’s still unfortunate compared to where they should be, put it’s getting better.
  • Just two three-and-outs for the second straight week. The Orange got into BC territory pretty frequently in this one, but turnovers hurt.

We talked about this a bit in the comments of the recap articles, but it’s worth bringing up here, too: this game was a prime example of what this offense can do so well to frustrate opposing defenses and force them out of position. As the game’s announcers pointed out (while taking breaks from praising BC for a multitude of things), going five-wide so much made the Eagles choose between two poor options. Use a zone defense and Dungey found screens open pretty quickly. Go with man-to-man and you end up with a linebacker on a slot receiver. Better teams can fix this with a Nickel package, but BC’s not a better team.

Related to the above, Dungey’s accuracy and efficiency all afternoon kept this offense humming. The SU attack gets derailed by incompletions, so the Syracuse quarterback simply made sure to have as few of those as possible. Just six all game on 38 passes forced the Eagles’ defense to spread itself incredibly thing. No, not every ball was perfect, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another game where he consistently threw it this well.

Apart from Dungey, the run game was a disaster, and it’s tough to diagnose what will fix it this year beyond the designed QB carries (dangerous) or taking Jordan Fredericks out of the dog house (not happening, it appears). Last week, the delayed handoff seemed to have some success, but not so much this week, which means back to the drawing board there.

I may look back at all of this year’s breakdowns to see if there’s any correlation with Syracuse scoring points and how quickly they’re able to get into opposing territory. The Orange actually get past midfield extremely often (this, without having other teams’ numbers to compare with), but just stall between the 25 and 40 a lot. I’d be interested to see if that happened more often if it took five-to-seven plays to get past the 50, vs. two or three.

***

Anything else that caught your eye above, or from watching the game yourself? Go ahead and add below.