“OITNF” (Orange is the new fast) was on full display Saturday against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jacket defense had no answers for Syracuse’s aggressive up-tempo attack. Sterlin Gilbert and Dino Babers finally let their skill players shine. Let’s take a look at some of the big plays from Saturday’s game and why they worked.
The run game was pitiful the first two games, but SU has found something in freshman tailback Sean Tucker. He had several plays where he made something out of nothing, but on this play the O-line made it easy for him. Excellent scheme from Gilbert and Babers, this is a simple read option between Tommy DeVito and Tucker. DeVito freezes the read defender off the left side and the double-teams from Aaron Servais and Chris Elmore along with Darius Tisdale and Matthew Bergeron are executed perfectly. Carlos Vettorello wins his critical one-on-one matchup and a gaping hole through the “B-gap” (between the center and right guard) for Tucker to run through. You know what happens after that..
The first of two deep shots Syracuse cashed in on. The “nascar” tempo was lethal, especially when Tech went with one deep safety which is not the move against four verticals. Babers utilized everyone’s favorite NCAA 14 play and simply sent all four of his receivers deep. Georgia Tech picked the wrong time to bring a safety blitz. Without safety help Taj Harris burned the corner off the line and had nothing but green grass in front of him. The offensive line was excellent in pass pro on this play, Devito had all day to wind up and that he did. A perfect throw from 13 to 3, dropping it right in the bucket, TOUCHDOWN! Word of advice to Duke and everyone else Syracuse plays, don’t leave one safety deep with Nykeim Johnson and Harris on the outside. It won’t end well.
Easy work here for DeVito, this is where he can excel (and stay off the ground). Give him an easy read and either hand the football off, or pull and throw it (otherwise known as an RPO). DeVito sees the safety creeping down pre-snap. This is the read guy who Babers and Gilbert want to put into conflict. If the defender comes down on the blitz, DeVito hits the slant behind him. If the defender sits in the seam, simply give to Tucker, because the O-line is blocking for the run regardless. DeVito makes the correct read and hits Harris on the slant against man-to-man coverage. Expect to see more of this.
Back to back RPO’s (run-pass-option play)! Same exact concept as Play 3, but this time the read is so much easier for DeVito. There is no creeping safety so this time the QB will read the linebackers, if they come down committing to the run then the slant has a good chance of being open in the now vacant area. Once again, DeVito makes the correct decision pulling it and throwing a strike to Johnson who is very dangerous in the open field. Again, more of this please and thank you.
Yes, it’s four verts again, but the tight ends are getting involved! Hackett runs through the line with a good burst and would have scored a touchdown if he wasn’t mauled by the defender. Love the decision from DeVito here, seeing the mismatch even though it wasn’t a big play, Hackett drew the flag. Hopefully Gilbert uses Hackett and Luke Benson more in the vertical passing game as the season progresses.
Coming off a big play, Syracuse goes up-tempo and wants another deep shot against a single high safety. Johnson uses that 11.07 100 meter track speed to burn the corner in man-to-man and the safety, who is late coming over to help in coverage. Great throw from DeVito even with a defender coming to blow him up.
It’s Great to see the offense finally show some signs of life, albeit against a weak Tech defense. Some of these concepts, like the RPO’s and man-to-man deep balls, will be there against every team Syracuse plays. Can SU execute and make these plays against better competition? That right there will determine the fate of this team. The defense will keep the Orange in every game, and the offense needs to continue to produce if Babers and company want to keep winning games.