Syracuse football’s offense showing growing pains along with improvement

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Syracuse’s offense has moved quickly, as advertised

Through four games, the Syracuse offense has been what was advertised. Moving at a fast pace? Check. Piling up plays and yards? Sure. Showing signs of what it will eventually be? Hopefully.

Growing pains? Uh huh.

The Orange have had 59 possessions through four games and 23 of those drives turned into points or a missed field goal. (I only think it’s fair that if Dino Babers sends out the field goal unit, there is an expectation of scoring. Whether or not the kick is good – there have been three misses thus far – does not add anything to the picture of offensive efficiency.)

The other end of the spectrum, however, is the quick three-and-outs that the offense has been posting. Sterling Hofrichter has been called on to punt 24 times on the season. Of those 24 punts, 15 followed a drive where the Orange failed to muster a single first down. Of the remaining nine possessions that ended with a punt, Syracuse has piled up a dozen first downs.

» Related: A pleasure to finally meet Syracuse coach Dino Babers

On the 23 “scoring” drives, the Orange have piled up 66 first downs.

Again, on 24 drives that ended with a punt, the Orange have 12 first downs.

The offense seems to simply move or not. These fits and starts are ongoing, but the kinks will get worked out as the team gains more and more experience running Babers’ non-traditional system. Again, Babers said it takes time and asks for faith from the fanbase.

Even though the inconsistency is troubling, the Syracuse offense is posting a lot of positive numbers.

The offense has committed only six turnovers on 345 plays, good for a 1.74 percent turnover rate. Last year’s team turned the ball over on 2.4 percent of their plays.

Also good is the average yards per play has jumped from 5.1 to 5.8. Even though the offense is sputtering, it is still performing at a significantly higher level than last year.

Third down conversions are also up significantly. Last season, the team converted 33.5 percent of their third downs. This year? The offense is converting 47.5 percent of the time on third down.

With these improvements, it seems like Babers’ request for faith is reasonable. After all, the evidence is starting show, making SU fans belief pay off.

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Jim Stechschulte

About Jim Stechschulte

A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.
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