Syracuse Orange football is falling off a cliff. After dropping three straight to the ACC’s better teams, SU laid an egg against 3-4 Virginia Tech, dropping the Orange to 4-4. The numbers in this week’s third down and red zone report showcase a record low. Not only did Syracuse not convert a third down the entire game, its defense gave up conversions at a 50% clip for the second straight week. If necessary, shield your eyes as we dive deeper. Here we go.
Third down and 1-3 yards: 0-for-0
Yep. That’s right. ZERO third-down attempts from within three yards. That’s a first for any down and distance threshold this season. And it wasn’t because the offense moved the sticks on first or second down...
Third down and 4-6 yards: 0-for-2
Since conference play began, the Orange have gone 5-for-15 from the area after starting 10-for-19. With open options downfield, Garrett Shrader opted for a 3-yard dump-off to LeQuint Allen on a third-and-6 late in the first quarter. A sack on the second play stalled an early second-quarter drive at midfield, and the Hokies scored moments later to take a 23-0 lead.
Third down and 7+ yards: 0-for-7
None of these attempts even came close to the chains. Two sacks and three third-and-20s are the lowlights here. There’s not much to say other than the team needs some type of spark between now and Friday night.
Third down and 1-3 yards: 0-for-3
Another emerging common theme: the Orange defensive line needs more push upfront to stop short rushing conversions. Over the past two games, the Mob has failed to stop any of its eight attempts within this zone. This time, VT running backs Bhayshul Tuten and Jeremiah Coney played the victims, and then a 12-yard catch by Da’Wain Lofton set up the Hokies’ first touchdown.
Third down and 4-6 yards: 2-for-5 FSU: 2-for-6
Likewise, Tuten gashed the Orange with two running conversions down the sideline off a read-option. Quarterback Kyron Drones moved the sticks twice more by finding open receivers in SU’s zone. The only highlight... a sack by Marlowe Wax on a third-and-5 to halt a third-quarter Virginia Tech drive.
Third down and 7+ yards: 6-for-8
The Syracuse defense stood its ground mainly in this region, a pleasant surprise. On a handful of drives, the Orange got the Hokies behind the sticks and stopped 3-of-4 four third downs from 10-plus yards. A missed tackle led to a screen pass to Tuten for 11 yards, and a garbage-time run conversion capped off this zone.
Shrader hits Villari for the 6-yd score.— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) October 27, 2023
Red Zone Offense: 1 trips - 7 points
Hey, at least Dan Villari gave Orange fans something to cheer about when he reeled in a 6-yard touchdown grab off a Shrader option play to open the third quarter. It took them four plays to reach paydirt in SU’s only good drive, an efficient trip to the red zone that needs to occur more frequently against BC.
Red Zone Defense: 6 trips - 26 points allowed
The Hokies scored on the first play of their first red-zone trip, a 16-yard pass to Da’Quan Felton for a 10-0 advantage. SU would limit the damage the best it could with four field goals and one touchdown over its next five stints, but the real question is how it let VT down there in the first place.
What do you think about these stats? Will Syracuse show up against Boston College? Let us know in the comments.