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Syracuse’s first down offense vs. Wake Forest

This running game is working

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Well it’s obvious that the Syracuse Orange are fully embracing the “Run it back” offense moving forward. Even with two weeks of film, the running game was incredibly successful against a top-20 opponent. That says something about the game plan abilities of Dino Babers and Sterlin Gilbert to scheme enough variation to keep the defense guessing even when they are playing the run. This week it said a lot about the work of the offensive line who were missing Darius Tisdale and Chris Bleich and then lost Airon Servais during the game.

Another week and another new wrinkle for the passing game. Notice how motion gets Anthony Queeley matched up on the inside defensive back and his initial route gets the defender playing the inside post move allowing Queeley to break to the corner where Shrader on play-action has rolled and has an easy read for the touchdown.

In the first half Syracuse gained 15 or more yards on six of their first-down plays. There was balance to the offense which kept Wake from keying in on anything in particular.

First Down Offense vs Virginia Tech

Run or Pass- 1H Yards Run or Pass- 2H Yards
Run or Pass- 1H Yards Run or Pass- 2H Yards
Run (Tucker) 2 Run (Shrader) 3
Run (Tucker) 6 Run (Tucker) 0
Run (Tucker) 2 Pass (Queeley) 17
Run (Tucker) 7 Run (Shrader) 5
Run (Tucker) -1 Run (Tucker) 1
Run (Shrader) 2 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Cooper) 7 Run (Tucker) 3
Pass (Tucker) 1 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run (Shrader) 9 Run (Shrader) 0
Run (Shrader) 9 TD Run (Shrader) 5
Pass (Jackson) 18 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Jackson) 12 Run (Shrader) 3 TD
Run (Shrader) 23 Run (Tucker) 0
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Run (Shrader) -3
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Jackson) 9
Run (Jackson) 12
Run (Tucker) -2
Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Tucker) 13
Pass (Alford) 45 TD
1st Half Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 9 59 6.55
Pass 6 38 6.33
Total 15 97 6.47
2nd Half Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 12 27 2.25
Pass 8 84 10.5
Total 20 111 5.55
Game Total Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 21 86 4.1
Pass 14 122 8.71
Total 35 208

Now let’s get to the negative. The second half has been disappointing in the passing game. Syracuse was able to hit some big plays in the running game which with the state of the offensive line and the focus from Wake is impressive. The downside is going 2-7 for 29 yards on first-down passes. Three of those came on the final drive when Wake was prepared for them but this is the third week in a row that the Orange have gotten minimal production passing on a favorable down. How minimal you might ask? Syracuse has gained 44 (#Brand!) yards on first-down passes in the second half of the last three games. Let that number sink in...

How will the Orange adjust against a formidable Clemson Tigers defense? In order to get above .500 Syracuse is going to need to hit some big plays as this doesn’t look like a game where you can count on ball-control and long drives. If you think I’m suggesting a Sean Tucker/Cooper Lutz wheel route on Friday night then give yourself 5 NunesBucks.

The overall offensive numbers are trending upward and there are more points on the scoreboard but the Orange can still get more from the offense and they will need it to get the final three wins needed for bowl eligibility.