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Syracuse vs. Rutgers: A view from the trenches

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We’re reliving this nightmare one more time.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Rutgers at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

They Syracuse Orange football team had a weird game this weekend. That’s the only way to describe it, especially after watching it two and a half times. In the 17-7 loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Orange showed flashes of competent offense and especially offensive line play, sprinkled with definitive “wtf” moments. It was this dichotomy that really earned the “weird game” moniker. I’m here to chart the offensive line on said game.

Through the first two drives of the game, the offensive line didn’t look bad. The starters where as expected until Dakota Davis can return from his preseason injury, with (L-R) Matthew Bergeron, Chris Bleich, Carlos Vettorello, Darius Tisdale and Airon Servais getting the start on the day. A few plays were blown up by Tisdale being blown up across his nose, but nothing above and beyond. The biggest note on the day at this point was the lack of quality pass blocking from Sean Tucker. The running back has poor form in general in his pass block set and he tries to set too deep, without actually filling the hole that he’s responsible for. It’s something he did last year and doesn’t look to be fixed this season.

The third drive may have been the best of the game at that point. Tommy DeVito was getting the ball out quick, the play call was varied, and then the final few plays were telegraphed or read, causing an abrupt stop. Overall, the line looked fine.

The Garrett Shrader portion of this game may have been hampered, in part, by Darius Tisdale, who had a very rough go on the day, especially during those three series that Shrader was in for. Missed blocks from him led to two of the rollouts forced for the quarterback, as well as some other shenanigans that ensued on the run blocking. Overall, not a great day for Tisdale. He was the worst on the day, and reflected it, grading out at a 4.0 in the pass block department according to PFF.com. That’s not a typo. Both quarterbacks were flushed numerous times by his play.

On the afternoon, PFF graded out the rest of the line rougher than I would have, with everyone below the Mendoza line for pass blocking if your name wasn’t Matthew Bergeron. The run blocking was similarly abysmal, but on 22 attempts, I feel wasn’t given a fair shake, especially in the second half, where they ran the ball a total of four times, one of which was a designed quarterback run for DeVito.

Also, when a defense knows you’re not running anything, they can tee off on the pass, which Greg Schiano did a few times, bringing pressure that the line didn’t pick up. The right side especially had issues with traps and switches, which was a known thing from last season. Expect teams to use more twisting and delayed pressure against us, if Mike Schmidt can’t get the guys to turn that one around. Overall next week will be a good one to get the training wheels back on the unit and see what they can make of the rest of this season.