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Syracuse football: third down and red zone efficiency vs. Boston College

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The losing woes continue for Syracuse Orange football, who are still winless in conference play through five games. A commonality in those defeats was poor third-down efficiency. The Garrett Shrader-less offense converted less than 40% of its tries for the fourth straight week against Boston College. Conversely, The Mob allowed its opponent to convert at a 45% clip for the fifth consecutive contest. Let’s dive deeper into what went wrong last Friday night.

Offensive success

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

Starting with a positive. LeQuint Allen has been one of the few bright spots on this Orange offense. He moved the chains with a nifty juke on third-and-2 in the first quarter, then plowed ahead for another to start the third. The running back didn’t get a chance on third and short against Virginia Tech two weeks ago, so maybe this usage is the new (and correct) blueprint.

The best offensive play of the game came on a third and short. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson took a designed run straight up the gut and to the house for SU’s only touchdown. It’s an extremely small sample size, so we’ll see what offensive coordinator Jason Beck drums up for potentially Del Rio-Wilson again next week at Yankee Stadium.

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

Third down and 7+ yards: 0-for-6

The Orange have failed to convert on their last 17 attempts from 7-plus over their previous three games. This week, four attempts came from 10-plus yards. Del Rio-Wilson got intercepted on an end-zone toss to Donovan Brown in the second quarter, and he opted to run for a handful of yards way short on two occasions. His arm needs to get going next week for SU to break this remarkably bad cold stretch.

Defense success

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

The D was once again shredded by the short-run game. BC kept it simple with seven runs and moved the chains with two crucial conversions in the fourth. This area’s been automatic for SU’s opponents the last four weeks, converting 19-of-22 tries. Maybe the Orange need a change on their d-line.

Third down and 4-6 yards: 6-for-8

Pressure from defensive coordinator Rocky Long made Eagles’ quarterback Thomas Castellanos uncomfortable from this down and distance. The gunslinger mishandled an option play that SU’s Anwar Sparrow scooped up, and Stefon Thompson blew up a later pass attempt in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. We’ll see if this pressure has the same effect on Pittsburgh.

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

Even though it’s the easiest to stop, Syracuse has met the expectations here all season. The defense forced three incomplete passes, then stopped 1-of-2 rushing attempts in this zone. No penalties for automatic firsts either, an issue that’s subsided since Clemson.

Red Zone Offense: 1 trip - 3 points

Back-to-back weeks and four of the last five with one trip inside the 20. This time, on a third-and-3, Del Rio-Wilson hesitated in the pocket and couldn’t pick up the first with his legs. The Orange are lucky that their only touchdown came from beyond the red zone, or we’d be staring at a big 3 on the scoreboard.

Red Zone Defense: 3 trips - 17 points allowed

Here’s another trend that’s repeating itself. SU has allowed multiple red zone touchdown drives in all five ACC games. A defensive pass interference penalty placed the ball at the two, and the Eagles broke the pylon on their next play. On BC’s game-winning drive, it ran the ball five straight times from the Syracuse 25, and Castellanos punched in a 7-yard scamper for the dagger.

What do you think about these stats? Will Syracuse break any of these patterns in the Bronx next weekend against Pittsburgh?