Yes, the Syracuse offense is fast-paced. But even with the focus on speed, they cannot forget about the importance of the timeout. There is still a time, and a strategy, for using them.
Saturday’s game against NC State featured Syracuse’s poor use of timeouts and reflected aspects of the Orange’s season-long struggles with them.
They need to know the play after a timeout.
There have been times throughout the season where the Orange take a timeout, go back on the field, line up, and then start looking to the sidelines to figure out which play to run. If the team calls a timeout or gets one from a TV commercial break they need to go back on the field ready to execute a play.
Yes, timeouts can be used for stopping the clock, resting players and getting a drink, but coaches and players need to use the timeout break to evaluate the current situation and make a decision on what they will do next.
Looking to the sidelines for a play right after a timeout is completely inefficient – especially for a fast offense – and makes the offense look clueless on the field.
They can’t waste timeouts to avoid delay of game penalties.
Multiple times Saturday Zack Mahoney was looking to the sidelines for the play call as the play clock was running out. The Orange were forced to take timeouts in order to avoid delay of game penalties.
While it is true that Mahoney was in at QB in place of Dungey and he may have needed a few extra seconds to figure out the play because he wasn’t used to starting, not all the blame can be put on him. This has been happening all season long.
Taking all that time to figure out the play undermines SU’s fast offensive strategy. It slows down the pace of the drive. Even more consequential than that, it gives the defense a chance to rest or even substitute players – the opposite of the goal of a fast-paced offense. A fast offense is designed to wear down the defense by keeping their players on the field with no time to switch and keeping them constantly moving.
In the times where Syracuse sees the defense switching players, they need to snap the ball while the defense is mid-switch with too many men on the field. The penalty on the defense gives SU yards for free.
The final two weeks of the regular season bring two tough games for the Orange to play. Both are must-wins in order for Syracuse to get the needed six wins for bowl-eligibility. Syracuse will have to be successful at timeout management to pull the upsets.