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Wake Forest Football: Previewing the Syracuse Offense

A quick look at a struggling Syracuse Offense

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

After a huge win last weekend over a top 25 ranked Virginia Tech team, the Deacs have a great chance to build on the momentum and the 3 game win streak on the road against the Syracuse Orange. The Orange have been struggling this season and currently sit at 1-5. Let’s take a quick look at the Syracuse offense before Saturday’s game.

The Syracuse offense has frankly not been very effective this season. Through six games, the Orange are currently 85th in the nation (out of 101 teams now) in scoring at 19.8 points per game and 91st in total offense at 274.8 yards per game. They are also one of the least efficient teams in the entire nation, averaging just 4.4 yards per play, putting them at 93rd in the nation. It is not surprising that the Orange are dead last in the ACC in all of those categories.

After Tommy DeVito went down with an injury in the Duke game, backup Rex Culpepper took over the reins of the offense. In 5 games, Culpepper has completed just 43.5% of his passes for 499 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. If he had attempted enough passes to be on the leaderboard, Culpepper would be the 2nd most inaccurate passer in the NCAA this season, ahead of Illinois’s Brandon Peters. One reason for that is that Syracuse is once again one of the worst teams at protecting their quarterback; the Orange have given up 26 sacks already this season through six games, over 4 sacks per game. It’s pretty tough to get anything going in the passing game when the quarterback has no time to even look down field. That being said, keep an eye on junior Taj Harris, who has a team high 26 receptions for 434 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The passing attack for Cuse has been pretty bad, but the running game has somehow been even worse. The Orange are running the ball 32 times per game for just 92.8 yards—that’s a pretty inept 2.9 yards per carry (91st in FBS, last in ACC). It also makes them one of just eight Power 5 teams averaging fewer than 100 rushing yards per game. Freshman Sean Tucker has been the lone bright spot for the Syracuse rushing attack; through six games, Tucker has run the ball 71 times for 362 yards (5.1 ypc) and all 3 of the Orange’s rushing touchdowns this season. Yes, through 6 games Syracuse has only rushed for 3 touchdowns, with 2 of those coming against Georgia Tech (recall that Wake has rushed for 3 or more touchdowns in 3 of their 5 games).

After the strides we saw from the Wake Forest defense against Virginia Tech, one of the best offenses in the ACC, I’m hoping that the Deacs will have no trouble shutting down Syracuse, one of the worst offenses in the nation. Anything can happen, of course, but this is a very favorable matchup for the Deacs.