The Syracuse Orange (and most of us) felt that they could run the ball on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday. Instead for the second game in a row, the Orange failed to create space inside for the running backs.
With the Florida State Seminoles up next it would make sense for Syracuse to want to run the ball and keep the Florida State offense off the field. The Seminoles are allowing teams to run for 144 yards per game and just gave up 209 on the ground to Virginia Tech.
The problem for the Orange is that they attempted 16 runs between the guards and center on Saturday and gained 55 yards. When Syracuse went outside the tackles, they ran five times for 38 yards. Normally you don’t want to try and go wide against an athletic team like Florida State, but does Syracuse have a better option at this point?
Syracuse’s biggest playmaker is LeQuint Allen, who has 34 touches the last two games and two of Syracuse’s three touchdowns. Allen was limited to 3 catches for 8 yards against UNC, but right now he gives the Orange their best chance to move the ball. With the Syracuse wide receivers having an inconsistent season, it’s Allen who needs to take on a bigger workload as the season progresses.
That doesn’t mean running up the middle into the teeth of the defense, so Jason Beck has to design some ways to get Allen into space, preferably against linebackers. Using Allen as a protector for Shrader just allows the defense to send more pressure. Syracuse needs to try and get the ball out quicker on offense so let’s see if they try and move Allen around more.
If Syracuse can force defenders to focus on Allen, it might open up some opportunities for Donovan Brown and Umari Hatcher. The young receivers have shown flashes this year and while they might not be ready to assume the #1 receiver role, they can help get this offense moving. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Syracuse go pass-heavy on Saturday to start and hopefully open up some running lanes as a result. Either way, run or pass, the ball needs to get to Allen early and often.
It would be disappointing if Syracuse hopes it can rely on defense to win in Tallahassee. The Orange are going to need to score some points if they want to grab the upset and stop this slide.