The Syracuse Orange could not get it done against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. The 50-33 defeat wasn’t always pleasant, but did give us some offensive highlights near the start. Defensively, SU had no answers, leading to a perpetual game of catch-up (which should stick in your mind while glancing over these results). Still, The offense did get off-track once again for an extended period in the middle of the contest (as you’ll surely notice).
|14:42||1st and 10||SYR 25||Pass||Philips||Mid Range M||25 Yard Gain|
|14:28||1st and 10||ND 50||Pass||Estime||Short L||6 Yard Gain|
|14:13||2nd and 4||ND 44||Pass||Dungey||Deep M||Incomplete (Philips)|
|14:08||3rd and 4||ND 44||PENALTY (Offside)||Jones||N/A||5 Yard Gain|
|14:03||1st and 10||ND 39||Pass||Ishmael||Short R||18 Yard Gain|
|13:43||1st and 10||ND 21||Pass||Ishmael||Screen R||2 Yard Gain|
|13:21||2nd and 8||ND 19||Run||Strickland||Dive L||13 Yard Gain|
|13:08||1st and Goal||ND 6||Run||Strickland||Dive R||3 Yard Gain|
|12:40||2nd and Goal||ND 3||Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||3 Yard Gain; TD|
|11:16||1st and 10||SYR 21||Pass||Estime||Short R||5 Yard Gain|
|10:47||2nd and 5||SYR 26||Run||Strickland||End L||2 Yard Gain|
|10:26||3rd and 3||SYR 28||Pass||Etta-Tawo||Deep L||72 Yard Gain; TD|
|10:01||1st and 10||SYR 26||Play Action; Run||Dungey||End R||8 Yard Gain|
|9:44||2nd and 2||SYR 34||Pass||Butler||Screen R||1 Yard Loss|
|9:24||3rd and 3||SYR 33||Play Action; Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete|
|4:37||1st and 10||SYR 1||Play Action; Pass||Estime||Screen R||10 Yard Gain|
|4:15||1st and 10||SYR 11||Pass||Philips||Short L||9 Yard Gain|
|3:56||2nd and 1||SYR 20||Run||Strickland||Off Tackle L||18 Yard Gain|
|3:41||1st and 10||SYR 38||Run||Strickland||Dive L||2 Yard Gain|
|3:19||2nd and 8||SYR 40||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete (Etta-Tawo)|
|3:16||3rd and 8||SYR 40||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End L||3 Yard Gain|
|1:30||1st and 10||SYR 22||Play Action; Run||Dungey||Dive L||1 Yard Gain|
|1:24||2nd and 9||SYR 23||PENALTY (Targeting)||Studstill||N/A||15 Yard Gain|
|1:05||1st and 10||SYR 38||Run||Neal||Dive L||2 Yard Gain|
|0:33||2nd and 8||SYR 40||PENALTY (Illegal Shift)||Estime||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|0:17||2nd and 13||SYR 35||Pass||Riley||Mid Range M||23 Yard Gain|
|0:06||1st and 10||ND 42||Pass; Sack||Dungey||N/A||1 Yard Loss|
Play-Call Breakdown: 16 passes, 8 runs
Syracuse comes out hot once again, moving swiftly on the first drive — though it could’ve been quicker if Eric Dungey hadn’t overthrown Ervin Philips on the third play. For the first time, Etta-Tawo is not really involved in the opening drive of the game, which is likely a result of increased defensive focus for the Irish. He still makes his presence known on drive two, scoring on the exact same play he did vs. UConn last week. Stalling on the third drive is what you’ve come to expect, sadly.
|15:00||2nd and 11||ND 43||Pass||Ishmael||Deep L||36 Yard Gain|
|14:50||1st and Goal||ND 7||Run||Neal||Sweep L||1 Yard Gain|
|14:28||2nd and Goal||ND 6||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive L||5 Yard Gain|
|14:10||3rd and Goal||ND 1||Run||Neal||Dive L||0 Yard Gain|
|13:27||4th and Goal||ND 1||Run||Dungey||Dive R||1 Yard Gain; TD|
|12:06||1st and 10||SYR 23||Play Action; Pass||Ishmael||Screen R||4 Yard Gain|
|11:45||2nd and 6||SYR 27||Run||Strickland||Dive L||1 Yard Gain|
|11:16||3rd and 5||SYR 28||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Incomplete (Strickland)|
|9:12||1st and 10||SYR 1||Pass||Philips||Short L||5 Yard Gain|
|8:56||2nd and 5||SYR 6||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete (Philips)|
|8:53||3rd and 5||SYR 6||Pass||Estime||Screen R||3 Yard Loss|
|4:57||1st and 10||SYR 36||Pass||Dungey||Screen R||incomplete (Butler)|
|4:52||2nd and 10||SYR 36||Play Action; Pass||Butler||Short R||15 Yard Gain|
|4:37||1st and 10||ND 49||Play Action; Pass||Etta-Tawo||Mid Range L||14 Yard Gain|
|4:15||1st and 10||ND 35||Play Action; Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete|
|4:12||2nd and 10||ND 35||Run||Strickland||Dive R||4 Yard Loss|
|3:37||3rd and 14||ND 39||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive R||1 Yard Gain|
|0:38||1st and 10||ND 14||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete (Philips)|
|0:35||2nd and 10||ND 14||Pass||Philips||Mid Range M||14 Yard Gain; TD|
|0:16||1st and 10||ND 34||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (Philips)|
|0:12||2nd and 10||ND 34||Play Action; Pass||Etta-Tawo||Mid Range L||11 Yard Gain|
|0:08||1st and 10||ND 23||Play Action; Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete|
|0:02||2nd and 10||ND 23||Field Goal||Murphy||N/A||FG is No Good|
Play-Call Breakdown: 17 passes, 5 runs
The lop-sided nature of the second quarter is due to a combination of Notre Dame’s lead and the time crunch SU is under late in the half. The end of drive five is actually a perfect example of what this Orange offense should be, and the fourth instance of Dungey abusing Notre Dame for going offside. But that effectiveness isn’t heard from until the team scores with a short field late. The Cole Murphy miss kills a last-second scoring chance to make it a three-point game at half. They wouldn’t get any closer.
|15:00||1st and 10||SYR 25||Run||Strickland||Dive R||3 Yard Gain|
|14:40||2nd and 7||SYR 28||Run||Strickland||Dive L||4 Yard Gain|
|14:16||3rd and 3||SYR 32||Run||Dungey||Off Tackle L||10 Yard Gain|
|14:00||1st and 10||SYR 42||Run||Strickland||Dive L||0 Yard Gain|
|13:38||2nd and 10||SYR 42||PENALTY (Offside)||Mokwuah||N/A||5 Yard Gain|
|13:32||2nd and 5||SYR 47||Pass||Dungey||N/A||Incomplete|
|13:29||3rd and 5||SYR 47||Run; Fumble||Dungey||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|11:18||1st and 10||SYR 21||Pass||Etta-Tawo||Mid Range L||15 Yard Gain|
|11:00||1st and 10||SYR 36||PENALTY (False Start)||Dungey||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|10:50||1st and 15||SYR 31||Play Action; Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (Butler)|
|10:41||2nd and 15||SYR 31||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete (Etta-Tawo)|
|10:38||3rd and 15||SYR 31||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||Dive R||0 Yard Gain|
|8:26||1st and 10||SYR 25||Pass||Etta-Tawo||Mid Range L||12 Yard Gain|
|8:10||1st and 10||SYR 37||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range L||Incomplete (Etta-Tawo)|
|8:02||2nd and 10||SYR 37||Pass||Etta-Tawo||Short L||6 Yard Gain|
|7:34||3rd and 4||SYR 43||Pass||Dungey||Short L||Incomplete (Fredericks)|
|5:49||1st and 10||ND 44||Pass||Strickland||Short L||7 Yard Gain|
|5:30||2nd and 3||ND 37||PENALTY (False Start)||Dungey||N/A||5 Yard Loss|
|5:13||2nd and 8||ND 42||Run||Strickland||Dive R||1 Yard Loss|
|4:46||3rd and 9||ND 43||Pass||Strickland||Screen L||0 Yard Gain|
|2:19||1st and 10||ND 34||Pass||Strickland||Short M||10 Yard Gain|
|1:57||1st and 10||ND 24||Pass||Ishmael||Screen R||7 Yard Gain|
|1:30||2nd and 3||ND 17||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End L||6 Yard Gain|
|1:13||1st and 10||ND 11||Run||Strickland||Sweep L||2 Yard Gain|
|0:48||2nd and 8||ND 9||Pass||Etta-Tawo||Short L||4 Yard Gain|
|0:22||3rd and 4||ND 5||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (MacPherson)|
|0:17||4th and 4||ND 5||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range M||Incomplete (Philips)|
Play-Call Breakdown: 17 passes, 7 runs
Syracuse does nothing with something for an entire quarter, abandoning the run early despite the Irish actually seeming to struggle to stop it much given their extra defensive backs out in coverage. There were plenty of opportunities in this quarter, before the game got out of reach. Dungey’s receivers contributed four drops (two from Philips, including one in the end zone). The sophomore QB also hung tight under pressure as Notre Dame ratcheted up the blitz knowing the Orange would throw.
|11:14||1st and 10||SYR 25||Pass||Dungey||Mid Range R||Incomplete (Estime)|
|11:06||2nd and 10||SYR 25||Pass||Riley||Mid Range M||13 Yard Gain|
|10:54||1st and 10||SYR 38||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End R||4 Yard Gain|
|10:25||2nd and 6||SYR 42||Pass||Dungey||Short R||Incomplete (Estime)|
|10:20||3rd and 6||SYR 42||Pass||Dungey||Short M||Incomplete (Strickland)|
|10:17||4th and 6||SYR 42||PENALTY (Holding)||Fertitta||N/A||10 Yard Gain|
|10:12||1st and 10||ND 48||Run||Dungey||Dive L||5 Yard Gain|
|9:47||2nd and 5||ND 43||Play Action; Pass||Philips||Mid Range R||10 Yard Gain|
|8:30||1st and 10||ND 33||Pass||Philips||Short M||5 Yard Gain|
|9:09||2nd and 5||ND 28||Pass||Strickland||Short L||10 Yard Gain|
|8:49||1st and 10||ND 18||Pass||Strickland||Short M||1 Yard Loss|
|8:24||2nd and 11||ND 19||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End L||3 Yard Gain|
|7:52||3rd and 8||ND 16||Run||Philips||Dive R||11 Yard Gain|
|7:29||1st and Goal||ND 5||Run||Dungey||Dive R||0 Yard Gain|
|7:01||2nd and Goal||ND 5||Pocket Breakdown; Run||Dungey||End R||5 Yard Gain; TD|
|1:11||1st and 10||SYR 22||Run||Fredericks||Dive L||9 Yard Gain|
|0:50||2nd and 1||SYR 31||Run||Fredericks||Dive L||6 Yard Gain|
|0:27||1st and 10||SYR 37||Run||Fredericks||Dive R||3 Yard Gain|
|0:11||2nd and 7||SYR 40||Run||Fredericks||Dive R||2 Yard Gain|
Play-Call Breakdown: 11 passes, 7 runs
The closer run/pass split here can be disregarded given the last four plays being Jordan Fredericks handoffs in garbage time to close out the game. With Notre Dame playing prevent on drive 16, Dungey did seem to develop a little bit of a rhythm, despite pressing somewhat too. That fake punt, however, was horrendously executed, and it’s a miracle the Orange wound up converting by way of penalty. We’ll get to fourth down decisions below, but there were disheartening, to say the least.
- Overall play-calling breakdown: 61 called passes vs. 27 called runs. Again, Syracuse trailed throughout, so that’s how you get complete and utter abandonment of the run like this (for a run-heavy offense).
- First half play-calling: 33 passes vs. 13 runs (28:14 in second half)
- First downs: 25 total (15 passing, 7 rushing, 3 penalty; 15:4:0 last week)
- First down play selection: 28 called passes, 11 called runs (14:25 last week)
- First down play selection on subsequent sets of downs: 14 called passes, 11 called runs (8:11 last week)
- First down plays for five or more yards: 16, which is the most since the Colgate game (14). Most of these were clustered in the first few drives, however, further showing where this offense loses effectiveness.
- Second down play selection: 21 called passes, 10 called runs (17:5 last week)
- Third down play selection: 11 called passes; 4 called runs (12:3 last week)
- Third down conversion: 3-for-15 (0 passes, 2 runs, 1 penalty; 8:2:0 last week)
- Fourth down conversion: 1-for-2 (0-for-0 last week)
- This week, 40 of Syracuse's 88 play calls (45 percent) took place in Notre Dame territory, the best rate of the year. The team’s longer second-half drives actually tilted the balance away from the first half for the first time all season. But the successful scoring drives of the first half are more of a thing to hang your hat on than possessions on one half of the field or the other.
- Play-action dropped off quite a bit this week, in part due to the lack of running. After using it 18 times against UConn, they threw just nine out of play action vs. Notre Dame, but completed seven for 64 yards (Dungey was 11-for-18 for 182 yards and two TDs vs. the Huskies). SU could’ve used it more early, but did not. And it obviously fell off late given lack of run believability.
- Syracuse had six plays of 15 or more yards (nine last week vs. UConn). Three of those went for 25 yards or more, however (vs. four such plays vs. UConn). Another 13 plays gained between 10 and 14 yards. Those 19 plays accounted for 350 of the Orange’s 489 yards from scrimmage, meaning that the other 69 (nice.) plays averaged 2.01 yards per. It’s been dropping for a couple weeks in a row now. That’s not awesome. Most big plays were also confined to the first half, as you’d guess.
- Including penalties, 10 plays went for a loss (double last week’s mark). And five went for zero yards. Having 15 plays fall into this category starts to negate the big plays.
- Five red zone trips for Syracuse this week, is a season-high. They scored touchdowns on four of them, while failing to convert a on fourth down from the five-yard line on another.
- There were four three-and-outs in this one, which is how you do a struggling defense zero favors whatsoever.
Offensive line (getting its own post, don’t worry) injuries have hurt the run game enormously. But you see it in the passing game as well, obviously. Dungey faces far more pressure in the second half of games in which Syracuse is trailing, leading to more blitzing AND more players in coverage. The line’s young and inexperienced, which will change. But for now, it’s contributing to the offense’s inability to put together a full game.
It’s not great to notice trends. Simple ones like starting hot and fizzling are fine. More egregious ones like Etta-Tawo catching the exact same touchdown pass two weeks in a row, or Etta-Tawo only catching passes on the short side of the field (nearly always the left) are bad because it’s very likely opposing defenses have already noticed too. It’s one thing if you’re still going fast, since you can get away with it. If pace slow the way it has, it’s far too easy to sniff out and stop.
Dungey hasn’t been perfect this year by any stretch. I counted four overthrows (including that otherwise easy TD on drive on) and one short pass that could’ve elevated the offense and Dungey’s day in this one. He also made a couple bad reads on screens that punished receivers in coverage. Still, he contended with five drops — three by Ervin Philips (one of which was that fourth down ball in the end zone that was definitely catchable). Not Erv’s best day, despite finding the end zone.
Fourth down decision-making was a sore subject for Dino Babers in the post-game presser, and it’s one here as well. SU has gone for it just twice total in the last two games. In a contest where they trailed Notre Dame for all but 18 seconds, it’s tough to understand why Babers didn’t dial up fourth down tries (a huge advantage of this offense) more often. Five different times on Saturday, Babers elected to punt with the Orange on their own 40 or further.
Anything else that caught your eye above, or from watching the game yourself? Go ahead and add below.