In our previews for this week’s Syracuse Orange game vs. the UConn Huskies, big themes has been pace and tempo. SU operates quickly. UConn does not. Pulling from yesterday’s “five things to watch” article yesterday:
“Through three weeks of action, the Orange have run more plays than any other team in the country, at 279. UConn, on the other hand, has run just 198 (88th in the country) in the same stretch. The Huskies are far from a fast team, which won’t do them any favors against the Orange.”
Connecticut football coach Bob Diaco certainly understands this dynamic as well, and sees where it could have a real impact in tomorrow’s matchup with the Orange. As he told the Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony:
"They're going so fast, the players are so spectacularly fatigued, and you can't get them (to the sideline). (A player) can fall on the ground and they have to stop play. He can go down and stay down, if he's at that level of exhaustion. But that's the problem. You'd like to be able to put somebody in the game because the player is taxed, but you can't even get the players in the game."
Players can fall on the ground and they have to stop play? News to us...
Interestingly, some of Diaco’s other takeaways from the offense may mimic some of our own questions about its simplicity:
"As fast as they're going they can't be real elaborate, either. They can't do a whole bunch — some shift traits and motion — to create confusion. The confusion is the tempo. So there's some vanilla elements to what they're forced and relegated to do, because they're moving fast also. There's not a whole bunch of control the defense has as it relates to tempo and pace of play.”
That’s actually a pretty good way to put it, when summarizing Dino Babers’s attack. When the team said they left out some wrinkles against Colgate, and then didn’t seem to add much vs. Louisville, it served as a little confusing. But when phrased this way by Diaco, it makes much more sense. Babers doesn’t use a physical playbook because he doesn’t need one for the minimal number of actual plays the team runs. The run/pass options for Dungey create variance even when it’s the same base play. The personnel — which has not been as varied as originally assumed — would also create additional uncertainty for a defense, should Syracuse choose to utilize it.
Diaco does have confidence in his group being able to stop the Orange, however, though it all hinges on them being able to play a ball-control style and win time of possession and the field position battle. We’ll see how effective that is when the two teams play tomorrow afternoon. As you probably noticed already, the TNIAAM staff doesn’t buy it.