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Syracuse football: third down offense and defense vs Western Michigan

The chains were moving early and often last Saturday

Western Michigan v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

Week two of Syracuse Orange football is in the books. Let’s check out SU’s third-down efficiency in its dominant 41-point win over Western Michigan.

Like its opener against Colgate, the ‘Cuse dominated on both sides of the ball against the Broncos. With Garrett Shrader behind center in the first half, the Orange offense went an efficient 5-for-7 on third downs. A sloppier second half by the reserves had Syracuse finish 8-for-15 when needing to move the chains. On the defensive side, Rocky Long and company held the Broncos to just 5-for-17 on their third-down attempts. Below is the breakdown of SU’s third-down success rate from crucial downs and distances.

Offensive success

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

Much improved from last week’s 2-for-5, the Orange still opted to pass twice despite the short line to gain. Shrader found LeQuint Allen open in the flat to convert SU’s first attempt, and then the gunslinger connected with Isaiah Jones for 17 yards on a third-and-3. The lone unsuccessful attempt came when Juwaun Price got stopped at the one-yard line on a third-and-goal from the two.

Third down and 4-6 yards: 3-for-5

The offense converted above 50% of plays from this distance for the second straight week. Darrell Gill Jr. hauled in a pass behind the line of scrimmage and scampered past the sticks to convert a third-and-5 late in the second quarter. First-down rushes by Price and Ike Daniels on handoffs from Carlos Del-Rio Wilson in the second half capped off this successful range.

Third down and 7+ yards: 3/7

This number is a bit skewed due to second-half struggles. Driving down the field in the first quarter, Shrader hit Damien Alford with a perfect back-shoulder throw along the sideline to convert a third-and-7. Shrader responded after an incomplete pass on third-and-12 a few drives later by converting his next chance, another third-and-7, with a dart over the middle to Jones for 19 yards. Del-Rio Wilson executed on his first long third down with a 20-yard connection with Umari Hatcher but came up short on his final three attempts.

Defensive success

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

Eek. We knew coming in that WMU had a solid running game, but the Broncos used the run and pass effectively here. SU’s defensive starters held Western Michigan to 1-for-2 on two run plays in the first half, but the reserves allowed three straight conversions, one run and two passes, in the second half. We’ll see how third-and-shorts fare against Purdue, who went 2-3 from this spot with two pass conversions last weekend against Virginia Tech.

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

It’s a small sample, but it’s perfect nonetheless. Through two weeks, Syracuse is a combined 5-for-6 in this area. Against the Broncos, pressure from the Orange d-line forced two incomplete passes, one overthrow, and one behind a WMU receiver in the first and fourth quarters.

Third down and 7+ yards: 9-for-10

Another dominant defensive performance from this down and distance. I thought it’d be tough to follow up a 10-for-11 showing against Colgate, but this number is nearly as stellar. Anwar Sparrow highlighted an 8-for-8 start when he sacked third-string quarterback Hayden Wolff on a third-and-19 in the third quarter. The only conversion for the Broncos came on a 19-yard competition on a third-and-9 well into garbage time.

What do you think about these stats? Will the Orange have similar success when they take on the Boilermakers Saturday night?