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Recapping Syracuse football’s first down offense in 2020

Once again, the Orange lacked consistency

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the season has ended we take a final look at the Syracuse Orange first down offense for the 2020 season. There’s been a lot of discussion here about the offense under first year OC Sterlin Gilbert and most of you are fine if this is it for Gilbert.

While I don’t think he deserves a ton of credit, he doesn’t deserve as much blame as he’s received. After two very poor games to start the season the Orange were able to find some success on first down. The problem is that like the rest of the downs it was often inconsistent and propped up by big plays. There is certainly plenty of areas at fault as both the players and coaches lacked the needed consistency that this tempo offense requires.

So let’s look at the numbers for the first down offense for 2020

Syracuse 2020 first down offense

Opponent Plays Yards Yards per play
Opponent Plays Yards Yards per play
UNC 32 108 3.375
Pitt 17 19 1.12
Georgia Tech 24 163 6.79
Duke 23 111 4.83
Liberty 27 141 5.22
Clemson 25 157 5.22
BC 23 98 4.26
Louisville 17 92 5.4
NC State 27 88 4.26
Notre Dame 24 92 3.83
Total 239 1069 4.47

Nearly 4.5 yards on first down isn’t a bad number but there’s plenty more the Orange can do next season. You can’t get 40 yards on one first down and then five yards total on the next eight attempts. Overall, the number looks fine. But you are going to struggle like Syracuse has the past couple seasons unless you can be more successful on a consistent basis.

I do think the improvement gives me some reason for optimism in 2021. Obviously Syracuse has to shore up issues on the offensive line and quarterback, but with Sean Tucker and some additional weapons on the outside this team could finally regain the balance Dino Babers wants to see from this offense.

Do these overall numbers surprise you? What do you want to see more of in 2021?