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Syracuse’s first down offense vs Rutgers

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The good vibes didn’t continue into week two

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange offense reverted back to 2020 levels in the 17-7 loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. All the good that we saw in the second half in Ohio disappeared as the Orange repeatedly stumbled when they needed to get some tempo going.

It’s not that throwing on first down is a bad decision. After Sean Tucker’s opener it would make sense that Rutgers would key on him but Syracuse couldn’t take advantage of that focus to complete easy passes, nor did the Orange run the RPO looks that brought great success in week one.

Changing quarterbacks didn’t solve the struggles. In the chart below Garret Shrader’s drives are in italics and you can see that his success came from getting the ball to Tucker and letting him do the work.

First down offense vs Rutgers

Run or Pass Yards Run or Pass Yards
Run or Pass Yards Run or Pass Yards
Pass (Harris) 6 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run (Tucker) 3 Run (Tucker) 0
Run (Lutz) 3 Run (Tucker) 24 TD
Run (Tucker) 6 Pass (Harris) 3
Pass (Incomplete) 0 Pass (Lutz) 3
Run (Tucker) 5 Run (DeVito) -10
Pass (Jackson) 7 Run (DeVito) 20
Run (Tucker) 0 Run (DeVito) 0
Run (Shrader) 2 Run (DeVito) -5
Run (Tucker) 1 Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Incomplete) 0
Pass (Tucker) 10
Pass (Incomplete) 0
Run (Tucker) 0
1st Half Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 8 20 2.5
Pass 6 23 3.83
Total 14 43 3.07
2nd Half Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 6 29 4.83
Pass 4 6 1.5
Total 10 35 3.5
Game Total Plays Yards Avg yards per play
Run 12 64 3.5
Pass 10 29 2.9
Total 24 78 3.25
1st down statistics vs Rutgers

The second half numbers are skewed by Tucker’s touchdown run and then the too-little, too-late scrambles from Tommy DeVito. Syracuse failed to find any consistency on first downs throughout the game.

The overall passing numbers would be even worse if we included the sacks, which get listed as rushing attempts. If you’re dropping back to pass twelve times on first down you have to gain more than twenty-nine yards. Without going back to re-watch the game it would indicate that those pass plays which were called were not leading to easy, open looks and that’s on the coaching staff.

This week Syracuse gets an opportunity to work out some of these issues against Albany but with the Liberty Flames looming there isn’t a lot of time for the Orange to keep this season from spinning out of control.