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Syracuse football: third down and red zone efficiency vs. Georgia Tech

Only one more week to improve

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Syracuse at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(Ed. Note: My fault this didn’t get posted last week but we want to finish the series and do a year-long recap)

The Syracuse Orange football team couldn’t clinch a bowl game when they lost to Georgia Tech 31-22 last Saturday. Dan Villari and the “Thundercat” offense impressed at times but struggled to move the chains on third-and-long. After a great week in the Bronx, the Syracuse defense returned to performing poorly on third and short. Likewise, the last third down and red zone report under Dino Babers sums up a lackluster back half of the season.

Offensive success

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

While this looks subpar on paper, the Orange converted both fourth down attempts after a failed third down. Combinations of Garrett Shrader, LeQuint Allen and Villari made up these rushes, with Allen scampering into the end zone on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The trio will look to keep the momentum going against Wake Forest’s above-average run defense.

Third down and 4-6 yards: 1-for-2

Small sample here, but offensive coordinator Jason Beck clearly had no intent to pass. Instead, Villari ran twice, once for 21 yards and once for 3.

Third down and 7+ yards: 0-for-5

Villari did actually throw a pass for two yards on a third-and-9, but the rest were runs that came up short. It’s hard to critique such a one-sided offense. We just have to hope that the running lanes are there against Wake.

Defense success

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

After stopping all three of Pittsburgh’s attempts last week, Syracuse managed just one stop in as many tries this week. On SU’s first attempt, GT quarterback Haynes King found receiver Dominick Blaylock wide-open on a slant for 14 yards. The Orange stopped King short on a third-and-1 on their second attempt, but a subsequent offside penalty on fourth down moved the chains.

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

Caleb Okechukwu’s third sack of the season made this zone report short and sweet. The senior brought down King on a third-and-5 to force a Yellow Jackets’ punt.

Third down and 7+ yards: 4-for-5

The only blip here was when King found receiver Eric Singleton Jr. open on a curl route for 14 yards in the second quarter. The Orange looked stout on their other four attempts, highlighted by Alijah Clark blowing up a pass in the backfield for an 8-yard loss.

Red Zone Offense: 4 trips - 24 points

Despite the loss, Syracuse put together a strong showing inside the 20. Two penalties by Umari Hatcher limited the Orange to three on its first drives, but Villari and Allen combined for three rushing touchdowns on the following trips. Villari carried defenders with him on a 21-yard run to set up its second drive and took it himself on the next play into the end zone, getting SU within 14.

Red Zone Defense: 4 trips - 17 points allowed

The Yellow Jackets scored twice on their first play in the red zone, one from King and one from running back Jamal Haynes. Clark made a touchdown-saving tackle on third down to force a field goal, while the fourth attempt resulted in a game-ending kneel down.

What do you think about these stats? Will Syracuse look rejuvenated under interim head coach Nunzio Campanile?