When your football team scores one touchdown in two games the attention is going to focus on the offense. For the Syracuse Orange it’s left us questioning everything but one area that’s been pointed out in the comments and game threads has been “What happened to the fast tempo?”
That question was asked of Bill Connelly and while his initial response was that defenses have adjusted, Chris Brown jumped in with a lot more detail so let’s break down what he said.
worth a longer convo (also I hate that name, it never made any sense, glad it's dying). but (1) i think the tempo factor is huge, as you note, (2) the offense is incredibly simple, all structure/alignment/tempo, and without solid first down success with inside runs/quicks— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 21, 2020
So about that tempo... Through two games, Syracuse is averaging 65.5 plays on offense. Last year it was 75.8 plays, in 2018 it was 81.2 plays. In 2017 the Orange hit 85.8 plays per game and back in Babers’ first season the offense averaged 80.8. What causes the drop? Well Brown has some notes to consider- scroll back up and read the end of that last tweet then come back to the next one below.
there was never quite as much reading/converting as some writers seemed to think; their best deal was just one receiver either runs a deep vertical, a post, or stops at 10 ("deep choice") and everyone else runs to 8 yards and stops. like, really basic -- worked w/ matchups— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 21, 2020
Do you recognize some of those themes? Inability to find success on first down. Lack of pass options on 3rd and long. Without a tall receiver making plays on the outside and forcing double coverage, Syracuse struggles to convert in those situations with only an 18% third down conversion rate after two weeks this year while last year they ranked 75th in the country with only a 38.6% success rate. (For reference 2018 wasn’t much better with a 39.4% conversion rate)
away from the focus on those deep choices -- in other words they become like just about everyone else— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 21, 2020
This last set of tweets is probably the most concerning though for Syracuse fans. We’ve been advocating for new wrinkles based on what isn’t working. Is throwing too much with a group of new receivers and running backs really part of the blame for what we’ve seen in 2020? Does simple really mean better if the offensive line can’t generate the push needed to run the ball effectively? Have ACC defenses caught on to what Syracuse wants to do and are no longer surprised?
With the current roster situation I think Dino Babers needs to look for some wrinkles to move the ball, even if it means that the offense isn’t exactly what he wants it to be. No matter what he does the results over the last two seasons highlight the need for the type of speed and size at the skill positions to keep the offense simple and speedy.