Syracuse Orange football will take on a rising contender with an efficient high-powered offense led by a dual-threat quarterback this week.
The Orange, who are coming off of a blowout 62-28 loss to No. 10 Louisville, will play USF, ranked just outside the top-25, this Saturday in the Carrier Dome at 3 p.m. EST. The Bulls won their first two games by a combined score of 104-37 and boast a similar skill set to Louisville – which does not bode well for Syracuse’s chances of winning.
Just how similar are these two teams? Let’s take a look at how Louisville and USF each rank in Bill Connelly’s Five Factors statistics (if you don’t know what the Five Factor statistics are, Connelly explains them in detail here):
EXPLOSIVENESS (IsoPPP): Louisville: 1.71, USF: 1.71, National Average: 1.26
EFFICIENCY (Success Rate): Louisville: 56.8%, USF: 45.5%, National Average: 40.2%
FIELD POSITION (Average Field Position): Louisville: 31.3, USF: 32.7, National Average: 29.4
FINISHING DRIVES (Points Per Trip in 40): Louisville: 5.74, USF: 5.78, National Average: 4.65
TURNOVER MARGIN (Turnover Luck PPG): Louisville: -3.15, USF: -2.63
As you can see above, Louisville and USF are tied in terms of their respective explosiveness ratings, and own similar field position and finishing drive ratings as well. Although Louisville (56.8%) may possess a more efficient offense, USF (45.5%) is still higher than both the national average (40.2%) and Syracuse (40.7%)
While the two offenses are not necessarily identical, USF throws the ball at a slightly higher percentage, they’re both centered around a dual-threat quarterback and his unique passing and running abilities – Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and USF’s Quinton Flowers.
Syracuse coach Dino Babers admitted the two quarterbacks are “eerily” similar while speaking on the ACC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday. When asked for his opinion on Flowers and what he has seen form him on film, Babers had this to say.
“I don’t like what I’ve seen from him because he looks similar to (Lamar Jackson). His ability with his legs to create offense for South Florida and then his ability to throw the deep ball on the money to keep the defense playing off is a little eerie. He reminds me about somebody I’ve been having nightmares about.”
Jackson torched Syracuse for more than 500 total yards of offense and five touchdowns, embarrassing the Orange defense with both his arm and his legs (with poor Cordell Hudson being his primary victim).
Flowers may not be the same athlete Jackson is, but he did just fine against Syracuse last season, finishing with more than 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns to lead USF to a comfortable 45-24 win.
The junior quarterback is poised to record an even better performance this season, as Syracuse had zero success containing a similiar style offense and dual-threat quarterback last week – despite supposedly executing their game plan correctly, according to linebacker Zaire Franklin.
“Guys were there,” Franklin said. “Guys were in position, and it kind of didn’t matter.”
To make matters worse for the Orange, they will most likely be without the services of two of their starting defensive backs: safety Antwan Cordy and cornerback Juwan Dowels.
Both Cordy and Dowels left last week’s matchup against Louisville with injuries. Cordy appeared to injure his left wrist/arm, and Dowels had trouble putting pressure on either of his legs. Although Babers refused to officially rule either player out Wednesday, he did acknowledge both Cordy and Dowels are nowhere near 100 percent.
“Those guys are banged up. They’re both limping around,” Babers said. “We haven’t gotten a final status on them, it’s going to be coming probably later on in the week.”
Similar offense, another dual-threat quarterback and facing a poor defense without two of its starters? Sorry Syracuse fans, but this one is going to be ugly (again).