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Syracuse football: third down and red zone efficiency vs. North Carolina

Let’s just hope next week is better

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Not much went right for Syracuse Orange football in a blowout loss to North Carolina. We’ll spare you all the details on how it happened, but we must deliver your weekly SU third-down and red zone efficiency report.

The Orange were downright atrocious in all aspects, posting season-lows in almost all categories. At 4-for-11 on third downs, Dino Babers’ squad only performed worse against Army. Tough running allowed SU to convert a few short down and distances, but beyond third-and-4 was a mess. The defense had no answers for UNC quarterback Drake Maye through the air or halfback Omarion Hampton on the ground, allowing over 50% of third-down conversions for the first time this season.

Offensive success

Third down and 1-3 yards: 3-for-5

If there’s one positive to take away from Saturday, this is it. Like last week, the Orange continue to excel rolling with the ground game on third-and-short. Shrader moved the chains with runs of four and 18, and Juwaun Price added another first down in garbage time. Keep those read-options and outside runs coming down in Tallahassee next week.

Third down and 4-6 yards: 0-for-2

These two tries couldn’t have gone worse. The Tar Heels defense swarmed Shrader, sacking him out of field-goal range on a third-and-5 early in the second quarter. Down by 30 in the third, Shrader got picked off by Alijah Huzzie, capping off another empty ‘Cuse possession.

Third down and 7+ yards: 1-for-4

It’s not 1-for-7 like last week, but we still have work to do. Damien Alford could not catch Shrader’s errant pass on a third-and-7, ending SU’s opening drive. The only conversion came on a 34-yard completion to Umari Hatcher, setting up the Orange for their only touchdown a few minutes later.

Defense success

Third down and 1-3 yards: 2-for-7

Were we playing Army? Thanks to four straight rushing conversions from Hampton, the Tar Heels were almost automatic from this range. The lone highlight was a strip of Maye on an attempted “tush push” in the red zone, recovered by Derek McDonald early in the fourth.

Third down and 4-6 yards: 1-for-3

Back-to-back weeks with the same result. The Orange continue to get burned in the short-passing game. After Maye found Devontez Walker for a six-yard conversion, an unlucky tipped pass by Alijah Clark went right to Kobe Paysour, who scampered 77 yards to glory for the knockout blow in the third.

Third down and 7+ yards: 6-for-9

A slight improvement from last week. Other than a Kevon Darton sack that ended UNC’s first drive in a field goal, a handful of stops came with the game already decided late in the fourth. Maye torched the Mob in this zone with three first-half completions for 36 yards.

Red Zone Offense: 1 trip - 7 points

It’s great that LeQuint Allen punched in the Orange’s only score from the one, but just one trip for the second straight week is concerning. SU averaged 4.5 trips inside the 20 against Purdue and Army, and still have not figured out its ACC opponents. We may be in for a tough one against Florida State, Syracuse’s last contest against an ACC powerhouse.

Red Zone Defense: 7 trips - 26 points allowed

To complement its non-existent offense, the Orange defense allowed a season-high seven trips inside their red zone. The Mob conceded points on all five of UNC’s first-half drives, four of which entered the red zone. SU only allowed six points in three second-half drives, but the damage was done by that point.

So, what do you think about these stats? Will the SU turn its efficiency around against the Seminoles?