Through the offseason, we’ve seen some movement within the Syracuse Orange offense. The loss of some personnel, the addition of Mike Schmidt as the offensive line coach, the addition of a few promising freshmen have all led to the Orange having an option at a few new looks in the coming season. The play book should be a moving target to fit these new pieces into the puzzle. As such, here’s a few things we’d like to see to improve the playcalling on the offensive end for Syracuse this year:
Increase the usage of the tight ends in passing situations.
We’ve yelled it from the rafters for a few years now, but there hasn’t been a prolific pass-catching tight end wearing Orange in a while. The Dino Babers era has been devoid of this as an option and it’s an easy fix to keep the defense honest and provide an outlet for the quarterbacks to check down to. Give me all of the Rhino as a delay target that I can get. Or Luke Benson on a seam route.
Addition of more of a power style run game, to current zone principles.
When Mike Schmidt was announced as the new offensive line coach, it sparked joy. It was also imperative to look into what Schmidt did at San Diego State when he was the long tenured line coach there. He ran the ball and ran it well. Sometimes with personnel that weren’t conventional for what he was doing, but he made it work. If he can make it work for the Syracuse Orange, the return of the run game, be it with Chris Elmore as a tight end blocking, or what became a staple of SDSU’s offense, the mid-zone with Elmore as a lead blocker, the thought is that we want to see Sean Tucker running downhill.
The addition of presnap motion.
It’s been a thing talked about since the “tweet heard round the Syracuse world.” During the national title game, Tommy DeVito tweeted that he was loving what Steve Sarkisian and Alabama were doing with their constant pre-snap motions, putting players in spots that could tip to the defense that was being played or show looks that the offense could get a read on and exploit. While no one is asking for the Sarkisian method of everyone moving on every play, some sort of variance and motion would be very welcome in this year’s playbook.
More of a quick-read passing game.
We know what we’ve seen of DeVito’s tendencies at this point. He tended to lock in to a receiver or not run through his full progressions on the way to forcing throws, holding on longer than he should or a multitude of other issues. One thing that can alleviate some of that is keeping the secondary honest with some pre-designed quick reads that can be determined pre-snap. It gets the ball to a primary target quickly and can be audibled out of easily if not available. I’m sure there’s some looks like this in the playbook, but a quick read RPO would be a boon to the offense in general.
The addition of positional flexibility.
We’re seeing from the preseason depth chart that Taj Harris is the starting slot receiver. While that is a very welcome change, it doesn’t mean it’s a requirement. Line Harris up at the slot, line him out wide, line him up wherever you can get a mismatch and exploit it. You have Cooper Lutz who can play as a slot or H-Back; Luke Benson, a speed demon with height to match up on the outside; Chris Elmore who runs as a tight end, but also a fullback, literally anywhere but back on the line. Another thought would be multi-back sets, be it for misdirection or for passing situations. Either way, there’s a lot of ‘tweeners on this squad that can change the look of the offense for the better.