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Syracuse vs. Albany, a view from the trenches

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While the run game and the pass game looked good, it may have been in spite of the line play.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Syracuse at Ohio Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You heard it from the announcers every time the Syracuse Orange broke open an impressive run play against the Albany Great Danes last weekend. “The Syracuse offensive line is opening holes a truck could drive through,” or something along that ilk. You come to this post thinking that all will be happy and the line performed admirably and the world is good heading into Liberty. You would be partially mistaken.

While the offensive line had a good day in general against Albany, leading the way for 286 yards on the ground and 623 of total offense, it was not without its warts. For one, it seems that new line coach Mike Schmidt was using this as a bit of a live laboratory game. You saw combinations of linemen that we haven’t seen this year. Airon Servais at center, Carlos Vettorello at tackle, Dakota Davis playing, Darius Tisdale at guard, the hits keep coming. Not all of them worked great, but Sean Tucker is really good and can cut upfield when reading a missed block with the best backs in the country.

As always, you can view the game chart here for the Albany game. One thing if you’ve been watching, will notice, is that it’s got as much red as any other chart I’ve done on it. Overall the line didn’t look that much better than it has in the past few weeks. There were a few really dumb holding calls, a few offsides that could have been prevented and a plethora of blocks missed that could have led to things getting blown up against better competition. That said, throwing up 62 points on anyone without defensive touchdowns is downright impressive.

When the Albany defense was hungry and had their legs, they were causing problems with the right side of the line. I’m not sure if this was a function of the aforementioned musical chairs happening there, or just people getting beat, but Darius Tisdale did not have a great day again no matter where he was played. While he somehow graded out in the top end of pass blocking grades, he was consistently put into the backfield or stalemated on the day.

Worrisome along those lines, is that, consistent with my charting and thoughts, the Orange only graded out at an average of 59.92 for the starters. This is technically below the Mendoza line for a quality run block. How you may ask? Because Sean Tucker is good. This line is consistently getting beat across the face, and then giving ground while washing their man. It’s acceptible in small doses, but it’s consistent with this group. I agree with the PFF ratings, with Matthew Bergeron and Chris Bleich above the sixty point mark and the other three below, but the pass ratings are all sorts of weird.

Either way, Liberty will be more of a test, as we see an improved line over what Albany was able to muster this week. Here’s to looking to some improvement from the right side and some settling of whatever positional paces that Coach Schmidt was trying to put them through on the weekend.