clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Syracuse football: Breaking down offensive play-calling vs. Middle Tennessee

New, comments

Can’t say I was looking forward to re-watching this one.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange lost in large part because of their offense this past weekend -- something that probably confuses most. I did see it unfold the first time around. But because we’ve been doing this for years now, I had to check it out a second time. What the hell happened? And did we miss anything the first time around that may illuminate why SU was upset by the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders?

I’m not all that excited about this week. Still, here we go:

First Quarter

DRIVE 1




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
12:24 1st and 10 SYR 10 Run Strickland Dive R 4 Yard Gain
12:10 2nd and 6 SYR 14 Pass Dungey Screen L Incomplete (Custis)
12:07 3rd and 6 SYR 14 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 9 Yard Loss
DRIVE 2




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
8:41 1st and 10 SYR 16 Run Strickland Dive R 3 Yard Gain
8:15 2nd and 7 SYR 19 Play Action; Pass Dungey Deep R Incomplete (Ishmael)
8:10 3rd and 7 SYR 19 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 6 Yard Loss
7:41 4th and 14 SYR 13 Punt; Fumble Hofrichter N/A 13 Yard Loss; Safety
DRIVE 3




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
5:59 1st and 10 SYR 42 Play Action; Pass Ishmael Screen R 4 Yard Gain
5:31 2nd and 6 SYR 46 PENALTY (Holding) McGloster N/A 10 Yard Loss
5:23 2nd and 16 SYR 36 Pass Dungey Short M Incomplete
5:12 3rd and 16 SYR 36 Pocket Breakdown; Run Dungey End R 5 Yard Gain
DRIVE 4




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
4:18 1st and Goal MTSU 4 Run Strickland Dive L 2 Yard Loss
3:49 2nd and Goal MTSU 6 Run Strickland Dive L 1 Yard Loss
3:12 3rd and Goal MTSU 7 Pass Dungey Mid Range R Incomplete (Ishmael)
3:08 4th and Goal MTSU 7 Field Goal Murphy N/A FG is Good
DRIVE 5




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
2:43 1st and 10 MTSU 42 Run Neal Off Tackle R 3 Yard Gain
2:25 2nd and 7 MTSU 39 Pass Dungey Short L Incomplete
2:19 3rd and 7 MTSU 39 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 14 Yard Loss

Play-Call Breakdown: 10 called passes, 5 called runs

This is probably the worst quarter of football that Dino Babers has ever stewarded over. Five three-and-outs, a safety, negative yardage, and a relentless blitz. Still, cheap hits on Eric Dungey and missed penalty calls started early here. It was also nice to see the Tank package return, though obviously better if it had ended up in the end zone.

Second Quarter

DRIVE 6




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
14:31 1st and 10 SYR 48 Pass Ishmael Mid Range L 13 Yard Gain
14:01 1st and 10 MTSU 39 Run Dungey End R 7 Yard Gain
13:37 2nd and 3 MTSU 32 Run Neal Dive R 2 Yard Gain
13:12 3rd and 1 MTSU 30 Run Elmore Off Tackle R 12 Yard Gain
12:52 1st and 10 MTSU 18 Run Elmore Dive L 2 Yard Gain
12:49 2nd and 8 MTSU 16 PENALTY (Personal Foul) Collins N/A 8 Yard Gain
12:40 1st and Goal MTSU 8 Play Action; Pass Pierce Screen L 3 Yard Loss
12:14 2nd and Goal MTSU 11 Option; Run Dungey Dive R 2 Yard Gain
11:27 3rd and Goal MTSU 9 Run Dungey End R 8 Yard Gain
10:54 4th and Goal MTSU 1 Run Strickland Dive R 1 Yard Gain; TD
DRIVE 7




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
9:50 1st and 10 SYR 25 Run Dungey End R 10 Yard Gain
9:43 1st and 10 SYR 35 PENALTY (Personal Foul) Ferguson N/A 15 Yard Gain
9:37 1st and 10 MTSU 50 Run Dungey Off Tackle L 4 Yard Gain
9:11 2nd and 6 MTSU 46 Pass Neal Screen R 3 Yard Gain
8:44 3rd and 3 MTSU 43 Run Philips Screen L 11 Yard Gain
8:37 1st and 10 MTSU 32 PENALTY (Personal Foul) Randolph N/A 15 Yard Gain
8:18 1st and 10 MTSU 17 Run Neal Off Tackle R 3 Yard Gain
7:56 2nd and 7 MTSU 14 Run Elmore Dive L 6 Yard Gain
7:40 3rd and 1 MTSU 8 Run Elmore Dive L 0 Yard Gain
7:10 4th and 1 MTSU 8 Pass Dungey Mid Range R Incomplete (Ishmael)
DRIVE 8




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
5:37 1st and 10 MTSU 44 Play Action; Pass Philips Screen R 2 Yard Loss
5:16 2nd and 12 MTSU 46 Play Action; Pass Ishmael Mid Range R 16 Yard Gain
5:03 1st and 10 MTSU 30 PENALTY (False State) Conway N/A 5 Yard Loss
4:42 1st and 15 MTSU 35 Run Dungey Off Tackle R 4 Yard Gain
4:16 2nd and 11 MTSU 31 Pass Ishmael Screen R 9 Yard Gain
3:53 3rd and 2 MTSU 22 PENALTY (Sub. Infraction) TEAM N/A 5 Yard Gain
3:43 1st and 10 MTSU 17 Run Philips End L 13 Yard Gain
3:28 1st and Goal MTSU 4 Run Dungey Dive R 0 Yard Gain
3:09 2nd and Goal MTSU 4 Pass Dungey Mid Range R Incomplete (Ishmael)
3:03 3rd and Goal MTSU 4 Pass Dungey Short M Incomplete (Ishmael)
2:58 4th and Goal MTSU 4 Field Goal Murphy N/A FG is Good
DRIVE 9




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
1:00 1st and 10 SYR 9 Run Strickland Off Tackle R 1 Yard Gain
0:30 2nd and 9 SYR 10 Run Strickland Dive R 6 Yard Gain
0:01 3rd and 3 SYR 16 Pass Ishmael Mid Range R 9 Yard Gain

Play-Call Breakdown: 10 called passes, 18 called runs

Comparatively, this was actually a real quarter of football. The Orange were inside the Middle Tennessee 10-yard line three separate times, but only scored 10 points total on those trips. More than anything else, that’s why SU lost this game. Positives from this quarter, however: Dungey’s block on Chris Elmore’s 12-yard run was excellent, run game dedication was admirable, and definitely like the Ervin Philips jet sweep call. Unfortunately, some negatives: cheap shots on Dungey increased this quarter, drops kills, as did missed pass interference calls.

Third Quarter

DRIVE 10




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
14:54 1st and 10 SYR 23 Play Action; Pass Philips Screen L 2 Yard Loss
14:23 2nd and 12 SYR 21 Run Strickland Dive R 5 Yard Gain
14:00 3rd and 7 SYR 26 Play Action; Pass Dungey Deep L Incomplete (Custis)
DRIVE 11




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
11:29 1st and 10 SYR 33 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 2 Yard Loss
10:52 2nd and 12 SYR 31 Pass Dungey Screen M Incomplete (Ishmael)
10:46 3rd and 12 SYR 31 PENALTY (Roughing Passer) Brady N/A 15 Yard Gain
10:43 1st and 10 SYR 46 Pass Mahoney Short R Incomplete (Ishmael)
10:39 2nd and 10 SYR 46 Run Philips End L 2 Yard Gain
10:07 3rd and 8 SYR 48 Pocket Breakdown; Run Mahoney End L 9 Yard Gain
9:32 1st and 10 MTSU 43 Run Neal Dive R 4 Yard Gain
8:57 2nd and 6 MTSU 39 Run Neal Dive L 1 Yard Gain
8:14 3rd and 5 MTSU 38 PENALTY (Pass Interference) Ward N/A 15 Yard Gain
8:05 1st and 10 MTSU 23 Run Elmore Dive R 4 Yard Gain
7:33 2nd and 6 MTSU 19 Pass; Sack Mahoney N/A 6 Yard Loss
6:51 3rd and 12 MTSU 25 Run Neal Dive R 3 Yard Gain
6:15 4th and 9 MTSU 22 Field Goal Murphy N/A FG is Good
DRIVE 12




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
3:31 1st and 10 SYR 47 Play Action; Pass Dungey Screen L Incomplete (Strickland)
3:23 2nd and 10 SYR 47 Pass Ishmael Mid Range L 9 Yard Gain
2:52 3rd and 1 MTSU 44 Run Elmore Dive L 2 Yard Gain
2:25 1st and 10 MTSU 42 Pass Butler Screen L 4 Yard Gain
2:01 2nd and 6 MTSU 38 Pass Butler Screen L 7 Yard Gain
1:50 1st and 10 MTSU 31 Pass Philips Screen R 9 Yard Gain
1:34 2nd and 1 MTSU 22 Pass Dungey Screen L Incomplete (Butler)
1:31 3rd and 1 MTSU 22 Pass Dungey Mid Range R Incomplete (Pierce)
1:26 4th and 1 MTSU 22 Field Goal Murphy N/A FG is No Good

Play-Call Breakdown: 14 called passes, 7 called runs

MTSU registered four cheap shots on Dungey during drive 11, including the one that ended up taking him out for a bit. That act sort of killed momentum for SU, which really needed to punch in a score to right this game. Two big drops by Devin C. Butler and Ravian Pierce were also crippling. The pass-first mentality of this quarter makes a lot of sense given closer game.

Fourth Quarter

DRIVE 13




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
14:53 1st and 10 SYR 25 Run Philips End L 15 Yard Gain
14:36 1st and 10 SYR 40 Run Neal Dive L 2 Yard Gain
14:12 2nd and 8 SYR 42 Run Philips Off Tackle R 2 Yard Loss
13:32 3rd and 10 SYR 40 Pass Neal Screen M 9 Yard Gain
13:06 4th and 1 SYR 49 Run Elmore Dive R 2 Yard Gain
12:48 1st and 10 MTSU 49 Play Action; Pass Ishmael Short R 7 Yard Gain
12:23 2nd and 3 MTSU 42 Run Ishmael Screen R 0 Yard Gain
11:50 3rd and 3 MTSU 42 Run Dungey Dive R 7 Yard Gain
11:38 1st and 10 MTSU 35 Pass Ishmael Screen R 6 Yard Gain
11:20 2nd and 4 MTSU 29 Pass Dungey Screen R Incomplete (Philips)
11:14 3rd and 4 MTSU 29 Pocket Breakdown; Run Dungey Off Tackle L 29 Yard Gain; TD
DRIVE 14




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
6:40 1st and 10 SYR 20 Run Strickland Dive R 6 Yard Gain
6:23 2nd and 4 SYR 26 Pocket Breakdown; Run Dungey Dive R 0 Yard Gain
5:55 3rd and 4 SYR 26 Run Dungey Dive L 4 Yard Gain
5:42 1st and 10 SYR 30 Pass Ishmael Short R 11 Yard Gain
5:17 1st and 10 SYR 41 Run Strickland Dive R 1 Yard Gain
5:00 2nd and 9 SYR 42 Pass Ishmael Mid Range R 15 Yard Gain
4:35 1st and 10 MTSU 43 Play Action; Pass Dungey Deep L Interception
DRIVE 15




Time Down Ball Run/Pass Player Direction Result
2:49 1st and 10 SYR 40 Run Dungey Off Tackle L 3 Yard Gain
2:31 2nd and 7 SYR 43 Pass Butler Screen L 10 Yard Gain
2:17 1st and 10 MTSU 47 Run Philips End R 5 Yard Gain
2:03 2nd and 5 MTSU 42 Pass Ishmael Short R 3 Yard Gain
1:56 3rd and 2 MTSU 39 Run Elmore Dive R 0 Yard Gain
1:15 4th and 2 MTSU 39 Run Dungey Dive R 6 Yard Gain
1:06 1st and 10 MTSU 33 Pass Ishmael Short R 0 Yard Gain
0:43 2nd and 10 MTSU 33 Pass Dungey Short M Incomplete (Ishmael)
0:39 3rd and 10 MTSU 33 Pass; Sack Dungey N/A 5 Yard Loss
0:33 4th and 15 MTSU 38 Pass Ishmael Mid Range R 14 Yard Gain

Play-Call Breakdown: 15 called passes, 13 called runs

Dungey put the offense on his back while dink-and-dunking down the field when he wasn’t taking off and running himself. One major issue with that (all game), however? Going to first read each and every time he threw. Maybe he was avoiding the blitz. But the throws to the closest read were part of what led to a very small number of receptions over about five yards. The phantom "cramps" from the Blue Raiders also factored into some momentum here, as you may have gathered while watching.

***

  • Overall play-calling breakdown: 49 called passes vs. 43 called runs (last week: 56:38)
  • First half play-calling: 20 passes vs. 23 runs, 29:20 in second half)
  • First downs: 25 total (9 passing, 10 rushing, 6 penalty; 20:10:4 last week)
  • First down play selection: 15 called passes, 23 called runs (24:20 last week)
  • First down play selection on subsequent sets of downs: 11 called passes, 14 called runs (17:17 last week)
  • First down plays for five or more yards: 11, which is less than half of last week’s total
  • Second down play selection: 19 called passes, 10 called runs (18:12 last week)
  • Third down play selection: 13 called passes, 9 called runs (13:6 last week)
  • Third down conversion: 8-for-22 (1 pass, 5 runs, 2 penalty; 6:4:1 last week)
  • Fourth down conversion: 3-for-6
  • This week, 55 of Syracuse's 92 play calls (60 percent) took place in MTSU territory. That’s even better than last week, which should drive you insane given the differing results.
  • Play-action wasn’t really effective on Saturday because Syracuse had zero time to throw and the run game was bad anyway. So any selling of the run really wasn’t assisting much. SU went 7-of-11 for 22 yards and a pick out of play-action.
  • Syracuse had just four plays that went for 15 or more yards, and just one of those (Dungey’s long run) went for more than 25. The Orange also added eight plays that gained between 10 and 14 yards... including the last play, when we needed 15 for the first down, but only gained 14.
  • Including penalties, 15 plays went for a loss, which is three times last week’s total. Another seven plays went for zero yards. That’s how this result happens.
  • The Orange were 4-for-5 in the red zone on Saturday, following last week’s 8-for-8 effort. However, a lot of settling for field goals in there, driving down touchdown rate to one of the worst in the country.
  • Though SU had five three-and-outs in the first quarter, they only had one throughout the remainder of the game.

I’ll get into detail with these in another post, but Dungey was hit either on slides or significantly after throwing the football 13 separate times. We discussed this a bit in the post-game comments, but Dungey really is hit differently than everyone else appears to be. The dirty hit that knocked him out in the third quarter was the worst of it. But these officials are simply not protecting the Orange passer at all.

While we can get on Dungey for all of the first read throws and check-downs, it’s also worth noting there were about eight drops from receivers in this one. So Dungey could’ve been far more accurate, which is difficult to hear considering the fire he was under. If he was able to get the ball out quickly enough to deliver something catchable, receivers should’ve been able to wrangle it.

The TANK package was an interesting fold, but one that’s going to take more time. If we’re running it with Elmore near the goal line, that’s one thing. But springing out the I-formation anywhere like that puts a target on Elmore and removes his rushing effectiveness. Also saw Dungey run once out of the tank. Let’s avoid that going forward.

We’ve mentioned in the post-game, but worth repeating that this offensive line seems incapable of providing much (legitimate) blocking on a blitz. It’s one thing to let MTSU on through. If LSU has these sorts of holes, we’re in for a terrifying game next weekend.

***

Anything else that caught your eye above, or did you just try to walk away from this travesty? Go ahead and add below.