There was plenty that Syracuse did right in its 30-17 victory against Wake Forest but the result of the game overshadowed a glaring issue for the Orange; red zone efficiency. The fact that the Orange failed to score a touchdown in the red zone didn’t cost them as the defense shined, particularly in the second half and, at times, Tim Lester’s offense came alive.
The Orange had three trips inside the Demon Deacons 20, and each time settled for a field goal. Their two offensive touchdowns came on long pass plays, a 89 yard TD courtesy of Brisly Estime and a 53 yard strike to sophomore Steve Ishmael.
While it is good news that Cole Murphy looked comfortable when called upon to grab three points, it is unsettling that Shafer needed to call upon his kicker each and every time that the Orange were able to get into the red zone.
When asked about the struggles in the final 20 yards, Coach Shafer shrugged off any concern. He said “We are 2-0,” and he refused to expand on the topic of his Red Zone offense.
Shafer may want to focus on the fact that the Orange are undefeated but they won’t remain so if they don’t solve their offensive issues. Central Michigan is not a good team. The Orange dismantled them on the road last season, but Syracuse cannot be complacent.
Without those two huge plays– especially the one to Estime which allowed the offense to gain confidence– the Orange very well may be 1-1 overall, 0-1 in the conference and facing serious questions about the rest of the season, not least of which, whether or not Eric Dungey can lead the offense.
The upcoming game against Central Michigan is about more than just getting the 3-0 start that eluded the Orange last season. They need to show improvement on offense, mainly in the red zone. Another poor performance in the red zone may not cost the Orange against Central Michigan, but it will certainly do so as the Orange prepare for LSU and the remainder of their ACC schedule.
What do you think the Orange need to do to improve their red zone offense?