Despite the quick start against USF, the Syracuse Orange scored just 20 total points against the Bulls on Saturday. But the offense still moved the ball quite well -- well enough that several SU players were able to maintain their places near the top of the national statistical leaderboard just the same. One of those players was Amba Etta-Tawo, who we’ll get to below (along with other notes).
With another 350 yards passing this week, the Orange maintained their 10th-place standing nationally, and now have 1,080 yards through the air in 2016. For those curious, SU had 1,881 passing yards in 12 games last year. Eric Dungey contributed all of this week’s passing yards, bringing his season total to 960 -- the ninth-best number in the country. He threw for just 1,298 yards in 2015 (about seven games of action).
Syracuse has now completed 99 passes, putting them just 65 behind last year’s season total. The 99 completions are the fifth-most in college football, and they’ve attempted the fourth-most passes (149). SU’s completion percentage dipped again (from 67.7 to 66.7), but its overall ranking went up from 24th to 16th. Part of this is because other teams are finally playing quality opponents. The Orange have already played two such teams (Louisville and USF).
As you might have noticed, Dungey threw a high number of passes (48) against USF. That number was the third-highest in Orange history behind this past week’s (51) and Ryan Nassib’s all-time record of 66 vs. Northwestern in 2012. Duney’s 32 completions were also the third-highest total in team history, behind his week one total of 34 and Nassib’s 45 in the aforementioned Northwestern game.
At the moment, Dungey’s averaging 320 yards per game, which would blow away the single-season average set by (once again) Nassib in 2012 at 288.4. Dungey is already just outside the top 10 on the all-time completions leaderboard for Syracuse (Dave Warner’s currently 10th at 209). He’s also just a couple TD passes away from entering SU’s top 10 there as well.
Nothing extremely notable on the rushing front, though Dontae Strickland did set a career high with 127 yards on the ground. His 30 carries in the game were also just short of one of the top-10 individual totals in Syracuse history. After running for 199 yards against USF, the Orange “jumped” up to one of the top 100 rushing offenses in the nation.
Etta-Tawo delivered yet again against the Bulls, despite him not getting into the end zone this time around. With another eight catches for 123 yards, his season totals are now 28 catches for 436 yards and three scores. The yardage mark puts him third in the country behind Cal’s Chad Hansen and East Carolina’s Zay Jones.
Ervin Philips caught 10 more passes against USF to up his own season receptions total to 30. That’s the third-best total in the country behind Hansen and Jones. Etta-Tawo’s 28 receptions are the fourth-highest number in the nation.
As Sean pointed out yesterday, Etta-Tawo’s still on pace to break most of SU’s single-season receiving records.
Syracuse’s offensive production went up from a yardage perspective this past game, and as a result, the team rises back up into the top 25 at 505.7 yards per game. In terms of total yards, they’re currently 20th. SU is also less than 100 yards away from being in the top 10.
The Orange kept up the pace once again vs. USF, and as a result, have now run the most plays of any team in the nation, at 279. That’s a 105-play jump from last week, meaning its output against the Bulls was the highest in program history. The country’s next highest total is (no surprise) Baylor at 271. Duke is the closest ACC team to Syracuse’s pace at just 250 plays in three games.
Unfortunately the Orange’s yards per play went down against to 5.44 (from 5.56 last week). That’s 89th in the country and at least explains part of the team’s inabilities to keep momentum on drives against USF.
Scoring 27 points per game is not ideal if your defense is going to be as porous as Syracuse’s has proven to be. SU has scored eight out of nine trips to the red zone (88.89 percent), and five of those were touchdowns. That TD percentage (55.56) is pretty low, though the team is also scoring more touchdowns from outside the red zone this season.
The Orange have 79 first downs on the year, the 16th-best figure in the nation after managing 30 against USF. SU had 204 first downs in 12 games last season...
Syracuse is a top-40 team on third down right now, at 46.15 percent. They were 12-of-24 against South Florida, which helped boost the overall success rate a bit. SU was 2-for-5 on fourth down on Saturday, and are now 5-for-9 on the year going for it. The nine attempts are tied for seventh-highest in the country, and the five conversions are tied for ninth.
Interesting times for the Orange football program. While the scores aren’t reflecting the increased production, these supporting numbers certainly are, and that means the new scheme’s working.
See any other notable leaderboard appearances for the Orange? Chime in below.