Another week, another game, another look at what happened with the Syracuse Orange offensive line. This week, it’s a tale of improvement, as the Orange got their biggest test they’ve seen to date from the FSU front, and came out alright. They weren’t banging down any doors with their performance, but they played well enough against a talented and athletic front. Dare I say there were points where they even looked good in the game.
The bellwether for the run game effectiveness is usually Sean Tucker hitting his 100 yard mark. He did that this week with 102 rushing yards and earned every one of them. The run defense of FSU was stout and didn’t give up too many explosive plays, mostly getting Tucker under wraps within a reasonable stretch. That said, he was able to chunk yards off the edge of some decent seal blocks and cut back against a wash with his usual effectiveness.
It seems that was reflected in the grades on PFF.com as well, with everything floating around that 60.0 grade mark. Highs of 66.7 for Darius Tisdale in his limited run and Airon Servais (66.4) and low marks from Matthew Bergeron at 51.5. From the re-watch I think that’s unduly harsh on Bergeron, who I thought had a better game than the numbers show and was put up to the task of blocking Jermaine Johnson who is just solid. The redshirt senior transfer from Georgia was one of the best ends that Bergeron will see this season and he did decent with him. Not amazing, but passable.
On the other side, Carlos Vettorello had his hands full with Keir Thomas, the DE/LB flex. Especially in pass situations he seemed to step up to the challenge. He handled Thomas well, or whatever the assignment happened to be, and graded out in the pass at a 77.9. I thought his run blocking was a bit suspect, especially on reach blocking or anything pushing outside of him. If Thomas was trying to establish an edge, he usually did, with Vett unable to seal or reach block him. This limited or bounced some of those outside carries, but overall he was still manning his assignment up.
I talked about the outsides and how I thought they did well. Now it’s time to get into the middle of the line. Robert Cooper had a day against the interior of the Syracuse line. Chris Bleich was peaks and valleys, some real nice combo blocks and then whiffing on the second level, or a nice pull followed by no movement on the man he’s clearing out. Servais had at a few points, especially on the ninth and tenth drives for the Orange (the muffed punt series), but got his snaps under control and handled the run blocking duties aptly.
Of note, when FSU utilized switches and stunts, the Orange still was having trouble locating and switching off themselves, but did look improved over the Liberty game. It’s a part of the game it seems that Mike Schmidt is working on and should get better as the season progresses. Also of note, Darius Tisdale left the game with a lower body injury. Severity is unknown, but it didn’t look great, so let’s hope for a solid recovery from him.