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Syracuse football: third down and red zone efficiency vs. Florida State

Shield your eyes for (hopefully) one last time

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Syracuse Orange football’s three-game gauntlet is finally over. With lighter opponents on tap down the road, hopefully, this is the last time I deliver you a disappointing third-down and red zone efficiency report.

SU’s offense stalled at every down and distance against Florida State, finishing 6-for-19 on third downs overall. The defense wasn’t much better, allowing their opponent to convert over 50% of their conversions for the second straight week. If there’s one positive, it’s The Mob’s red zone defense, which we’ll dive into below.

Offensive success

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

LeQuint Allen looked explosive on these two conversions, breaking two runs to the outside for first downs. Unlike previous games, the halfback took the ball and not quarterback Garrett Shrader, who took four of five carries in this zone last week. We’ll see if offensive coordinator Jason Beck continues to draw up third-and-short plays for the running back over the bye week.

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

This area’s been a disaster since conference play began. Shrader targeted four different receivers in the first half, with Allen being the only one to bulldoze his way past the sticks. Backup gunslinger Carlos Del Rio-Wilson hit Juwaun Price on a screen pass for the second conversion late in the fourth.

Third down and 7+ yards: 2-for-10

It’s clear that not much went right, but the offensive line gave Shrader more than enough time to throw. The QB connected with Damien Alford and Umari Hatcher on 22-yard completions in the second and third quarters, but that was it. One worthy note is that Shrader targeted Hatcher in four of his six attempts from this zone. Maybe a lethal connection is starting to brew?

Defense success

Third down and 1-3 yards: 0-for-5

It’s hard to be competitive when you allow every third and short. FSU quarterback Jordan Travis tormented the Mob with his arm and legs. Both of his passing attempts went for 10+ yards, and he scampered for two more conversions. On the fifth attempt, Lawrance Toafili broke free down the left sideline for a 50-yard score early in the fourth quarter.

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

In its last three games, the Orange are a combined 4-for-12 in stopping opponents from this down and distance. This week, Travis found three different receivers to convert third-and-5 chances. Toafili took a toss on third-and-4 and dashed down inside the 5-yard line, setting up the Seminoles for their first touchdown.

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

On the bright side, Syracuse kept FSU from the big play on third down. The most yards the Orange allowed over these six plays was seven, stopping Toafili a yard short of the chains. If SU can limit the Seminoles’ high-powered offense here, it can do the same against any remaining opponent.

Red Zone Offense: 2 trips - 3 points

When you score three points in an entire game, red-zone opportunities are few and far between. The closest the Orange offense got to the end zone was FSU’s 14-yard line. Kicker Brady Denaburg went 1-for-2 on field goal tries to cap off a forgettable team performance.

Red Zone Defense: 4 trips - 17 points allowed

Given where the Seminoles started some of these possessions, the Mob held up for the most part. Shrader’s fumble and a 72-yard punt return set Mike Norvell’s offense up twice inside the 10. Pressure by Marlowe Wax forced an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal to cause a turnover, and then a split sack by Justin Barron and Derek McDonald led to an FSU field goal.

What do you think about these stats? Will SU get back on track over its bye week?