Year one of the Dino Babers era is over for the Syracuse Orange. There were some great things, and some less-than-great things. Obviously I’m focusing in on the offensive side of things here (Julian Whigham did a great job with the defense yesterday), as has been the case all year. There’s a lot to digest, especially in light of what happened vs. Pitt.
The below is an extension of the 12 offensive play-calling articles that preceded it this season. The trends we may have identified week-to-week can now be summarized as results and a real, solid narrative for Babers’s first year at SU.
Run vs. pass distribution
The offensive line struggled all season, which took its toll on the run game, which then took its toll on the entire offense’s production. The one major exception to that rule was the final game, when everything seemed to work (against a quality defensive front, no less). That still doesn’t affect the pass-heavy nature of the season, which looks even more skewed below. As always, these are "called" passes, which include pocket breakdowns that turn into QB scrambles.
Third downs were clearly passing downs
HI OPPOSING DEFENSES! WE’RE PASSING!
Things skewed nearly 60 percent pass to 40 percent run as it is on both first and second down. But on third, it jumped all the way up to 77 percent. That’s a huge beacon to opposing pass rushers that Syracuse would be throwing, or at least attempting to on third down. If they didn’t? Well, either it was telegraphed, or defenses were willing to take the risk. Third-and-long was a common occurrence, which is how this happens as often as it did.
|1st Down Plays||34||38||41||29||46||28||41||33||29||19||27||47||412|
|2nd Down Plays||26||30||35||22||31||21||33||26||22||18||25||35||324|
|3rd Down Plays||18||23||24||15||15||16||21||14||16||13||17||20||212|
Poor execution on first down is how third down becomes third and long so often. And while the numbers were never great on first, they tanked heavily in the early games post-Eric Dungey. Zack Mahoney clearly rights the ship and then some vs. Pitt. But the other three games largely without Dungey, things are very, very unfortunate on first (and it shows on third).
|5+ on 1st||14||13||12||11||16||9||14||15||5||3||6||23||141||11.75|
Third down success was... not successful, and got less so once first down success dropped off as far as it did. Fourth down, however, worked out pretty well — especially once Babers got his bearings on what this team could and couldn’t do on that down. The run rarely worked (unless it was executed by Dungey). But the pass showed some real promise given the large number of options to throw to.
Behind enemy lines
This stat of plays in opposing territory means nothing if you don’t do anything with those possessions. And as Bill Connelly’s numbers will tell you, we rarely did much with them at all. On the season, Syracuse was 104th overall in terms of finishing drives inside the opponents’ 40. There’s a 10-yard gulf between Bill’s measure for success and what we measure here. But the point stands that the Orange were unable to make enough happen past midfield.
|No. Past 50||38||31||39||24||40||25||59||39||17||19||34||53||418||43%|
Syracuse made progress over the course of the season here. SU was 73rd in the country, which is bad until you consider where we were in 2015 (much, much worse). They were also 86th at the halfway point. Again, this is without comparison to teams around the country, but running five percent of your overall plays for 25 yards or more means you ARE finding ways to move the football. Running 17 percent of your overall plays for 10 yards or more is okay. But if you remove the three very rocky efforts vs. Clemson, NC State and Florida State, that "10 yards or more" number jumps all the way up to 22 percent. That is pretty excellent, I’d say.
Excuse the shorthand below. But these are the "long" plays measured in the weekly breakdowns. "10+ plays" are plays that gain 10 or more yards, "15+ plays" is for 15 or more yards, etc.
Anything to add? Anything to question? There are certainly pluses and minuses to this presentation, so I’m all ears about how to improve it (right now and in the future). Hopefully this is just the start of SU’s progress toward a whole lot more offense. And if the final game was any indication, we should be very excited for what’s to come in 2017.