Another week, another win for Syracuse Orange football. It wasn’t dominant by any means, but a furious second-half rally by the Orange offense helped Dino Babers and company get to 4-0 for the second straight year. We’ve got you covered with this week’s edition of SU’s third-down and red zone efficiency against Army.
Garrett Shrader and the Syracuse offense struggled to move the chains this week, going a pedestrian 3-for-11. All three conversions came in the second half on passing plays, which was enough to keep the ‘Cuse in front. The defense looked sharp against a run-heavy Black Knights offense, limiting the visitors to six conversions in 17 attempts. Below is the in-depth breakdown of Syracuse’s overall efficiency.
Third down and 1-3 yards: 0-for-2
Entering the game over 50% from this down and distance, the Orange surprisingly failed to convert either of their attempts. Shrader was nearly intercepted on a third-and-3 late in the first quarter after underthrowing Umari Hatcher on a curl route. Juwaun Price got stuffed for a loss with SU up by 19 late in the fourth. The good news is that next week’s opponent, Clemson, failed to stop Florida State in its two chances last week.
Third down and 4-6 yards: 2-for-6
Another area for improvement. Shrader failed to convert either of Syracuse’s first-half attempts in this area, getting sacked and overshooting a wide-open Hatcher. A 14-yard completion to Donovan Brown in the third quarter got the ball rolling, then another pass to LeQuint Allen in the fourth set up the Orange for a field goal.
Third down and 7+ yards: 1-for-3
The one conversion here was a big one. On third-and-9, Shrader rocketed a dart through the middle of Army’s zone and right to Hatcher in the end zone, giving the Orange their first lead of the afternoon. This down and distance yielded by far the fewest attempts Syracuse had in a game this season, so give the offense credit for getting closer to the sticks on first and second down.
Shrader to Hatcher for the go-ahead score!— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) September 23, 2023
Third down and 1-3 yards: 2-for-6
The Syracuse defense had no answers for Army on short-yardage situations in the first half, allowing four rushing conversions. Undoubtedly one of the most physical teams the Orange will face in the trenches, the defense held the Black Knights to just one attempt in the second half, allowing a 16-yard pass on a third-and-2. While it’s not their most impressive performance, the lack of second-half attempts forced Army out of its preferred rushing playstyle.
Third down and 4-6 yards: 3-for-5
The Mob went above 50% here for the third time this season. After an early pass conversion, runs by quarterback Bryson Daily and tailback Hayden Reed came up short. Desperate to score in the fourth, Caleb Okechukwu and Leon Lowery combined to sack Daily on a third-and-5, cementing another Orange win.
Third down and 7+ yards: 6-for-6
Beautiful stuff right here. Army isn’t known for its air raids, but keeping the Black Knights from converting even one third down is commendable. Three rushes came up short, two passes fell incomplete, and Jaeden Gould intercepted Daily’s pass in the end zone late in the fourth.
Red Zone Offense: 4 trips - 20 points
The Orange made the most of their opportunities despite not entering the red zone until the second half. Allen scampered into the end zone on SU’s first attempt, tying the game at 10. Shrader connected with Hatcher for six to take the lead, and two field goals by Brady Denaburg rounded out the four chances.
Red Zone Defense: 2 trips - 7 points
Army took the game’s opening possession straight down the field for a touchdown, and that was it. Gould stepped in front of and intercepted Daily’s pass on third-and-long from the Syracuse 15, capping off an empty second trip for the Black Knights. It was the second consecutive game that SU’s defense forced a turnover in its red zone and the third in its last two matches.
What do you think about these stats? Will the Orange offense return to form against the Clemson Tigers?