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Syracuse football: third down offense and defense vs Colgate

Can’t stop, won’t stop moving those chains

NCAA Football: Colgate at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Game one for the Syracuse Orange was a breeze and a great sign of things to come. Let’s dive a little deeper into how SU tacked on 65 big ones, precisely their third-down efficiency.

Overall, the Orange offense moved the ball at will, going 9-for-16 on third downs. The defense also looked sharp in Rocky Long’s debut, holding Colgate to an ugly 3-for-17 in its tries. Below is the complete breakdown of SU’s third-down success rate from various downs and distances.

Offensive success

3rd and 1-3 yards: 2/5

Surprisingly, this was the distance the Orange struggled with the most, especially in the red zone. Faced with a third-and-1 on the Colgate five-yard line in the first quarter, Shrader kept the ball on a read option, then tossed it backward to Oronde Gadsden II, who the Raiders tackled behind the line of scrimmage. SU’s quarterback had another chance right before halftime on a third-and-2 from the Colgate 20, but there seemed to be a miscommunication as Shrader’s pass went right into the hands of a wide-open Raiders defender. Either the Orange were getting too fancy, or they needed more practice. It’s something to monitor as the season progresses.

3rd and 4-6 yards: 3/4

The offense looked much more comfortable in these spots. Shrader used his legs for a six-yard run on a third-and-5 in SU’s first attempt. Later, a 48-yard completion from Carlos Del-Rio Wilson to Umari Hatcher led to a touchdown the following play.

3rd and 7+ yards: 4/7

Very encouraging sign here. The Orange receivers had no problems creating separations in space, combining for 125 yards in these seven plays. Shrader rolled to his left on third-and-7 and found a wide-open Isaiah Jones for a 44-yard score. He later connected with Umari Hatcher for 42 yards on a third-and-9. Wilson looked good, too, finding Darrell Gill Jr. in the end zone on third-and-9 for an 18-yard touchdown.

Defensive success

3rd and 1-3 yards: 1/2

There’s not much sample size here, so credit the Syracuse defense. Austin Roon stopped Colgate quarterback Zach Osborne short of the sticks on third-and-3 in the third quarter, then the D allowed a six-yard run late in the fourth quarter. The Orange should find more chances this week against a Western Michigan squad who were in this position seven times in a win over Sacred Heart.

3rd and 4-6 yards: 3/4

Another successful down and distance for Syracuse. Immediate pressure from the Orange’s d-line forced an incompletion to end the Raiders’s first possession. Then Jeremiah Wilson took an interception to the house on a third-and-5 a few drives later. Another incomplete pass and a successful quarterback scamper rounded out all four chances in this category.

3rd and 7+ yards: 10/11

When facing a team like Colgate, you’ll probably have enough time to stop them if they’re over seven yards from the line to gain. The Mob dominated this down and distance. Marlowe Wax blew through the Raiders’ o-line on a third-and-7 and drilled their quarterback for his first sack of the year in the first quarter. Syracuse tackled all five runners short of the first and forced short completions for an over 90% success rate. The lone conversion was a nine-yard pass on third-and-8 with the ‘Cuse already up by 30.

So, what do you think about these stats? Will the Orange continue to have success on third downs against Western Michigan this weekend?