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What did Syracuse’s first down offense look like vs. Pittsburgh?

Another step backward this week.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we saw some positives in the second half from the Syracuse Orange offense but they couldn’t maintain the momentum. The gameplan was to throw early and often against the Pittsburgh Panthers secondary, but Tommy DeVito only complete one of his first five first-down pass attempts. Syracuse’s first play from scrimmage was indicative of the team’s offensive struggles as DeVito hit a wide-open Trishton Jackson, but Jackson dropped the ball.

Instead of a big gain early Syracuse ended up punting on their first three possessions as once again the Orange fell behind early. Overall the Orange attempted 11 first-down passes and only gained 11 yards on those plays.

Syracuse vs Pittsburgh

1st half Run or Pass Yards 2nd Half Run or Pass Yards
1st half Run or Pass Yards 2nd Half Run or Pass Yards
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Harris) 7
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Run (DeVito) 0
Pass (Riley) 13 Run (Welch) 1
Run (Neal) 1 Penalty -5
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Run (Adams) 3
Run (Adams) 7 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Sack) -7 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Jackson) 2 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run (Neal) 3 Pass (Jackson) 40
Run (Neal) 19 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Riley) 3 Run (Neal) -3
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run (Riley) -3 Run (Neal) 0
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Run (Riley) 1
Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run 5 27 yards 5.4 yards per play Run 6
Pass 11 11 yards 1 yd per play Pass 8
16 38 yards 2.38 yds per play 14
Run 11 29 yards 2.64 yds per play
Pass 19 58 yards 3.05 yds per play
30 87 yards 2.9 yds per play

The second half numbers were salvaged by one big 40-yard completion from Clayton Welch to Jackson. Take away that play and the Orange gained nine yards on the other 13 first-down plays they ran in the second half. After DeVito came out of the game Welch and Rex Culpepper only completed one pass in six attempts and the Orange were once again unable to run the ball effectively.

Syracuse simply isn’t good enough to overcome penalties and dropped passes. The Orange need to clean up these mistakes in the last five games if they want to get to six wins. We’ll see if changes to the starting line-up will provide a boost but Syracuse needs to get off to better starts as they have never led in the four games they’ve lost. Playing from behind just exposes the offensive line to more pressure and keeps the Orange from having a balanced offense.