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Syracuse football’s first down offense vs. Duke

The Orange lost this battle badly

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

We know that the Syracuse Orange need to win on first downs in order to be successful. After some positive steps forward in the win over Georgia Tech, Syracuse reverted to an unsuccessful formula.

First Down Offense vs Duke

Run or Pass Yards Run or Pass Yards
Run or Pass Yards Run or Pass Yards
Pass (Harris) 1 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run (Tucker) 7 Pass (Pena) -1
Run (Tucker) 6 Pass (Benson) 53 TD
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Run (Tucker) 9
Run (Tucker) 1 Pass (Harris) 11
Run (Tucker) 1 Pass (Sack) -6
Run (Tucker) 5 Run (Pierre) 3
Run (Tucker) 3 Pass (Hackett) 10
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Queeley) 8
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Incomplete) 0
1st Half Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 6 23 3.83
Pass 6 1 0.17
Total 12 24 2
2nd Half Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 2 12 6
Pass 9 75 8.33
Total 11 87 7.1
Game Total Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 8 35 4.38
Pass 15 76 5.01
Total 23 111 4.83

You just can’t expect to run a tempo offense, or win football games, when you gain two yards on first down. If Duke was taking away the short pass, then it’s on Syracuse to make them pay. Throwing six passes and gaining one yard isn’t going to make the defense change their approach.

In the second half, the Orange kept trying to throw first and it worked once.

Even though Syracuse was better on first downs in the second half, they failed to turn that success into any kind of sustained offensive attack.

With Rex Culpepper likely to take over this week the Orange would be wise not to be predictable but not to fall into the trap of low-percentage passing plays. We’ll see if Sterling Gilbert will come up with some play calls to keep the offense from the quick possessions that have stressed the Orange defense.