Given how low expectations were for Syracuse going into 2021, yesterday’s loss against Florida State stings unexpectedly badly. The Orange were kept on their heels all game long by the Seminoles. Let’s take a look at a few numbers to understand why SU never quite pulled away.
It may not be a huge number, but the 244 combined yards racked up by Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis are the main culprit to point to for SU’s demise in Tallahassee. SU defensive coordinator Tony White’s 3-3-5 scheme had dominated up until yesterday, but the Orange were confounded by Travis, who gained only slightly more yards through the air (131) than on the ground (113) in a mostly mistake-free day.
However, Travis’ efficiency was what tormented the SU defense the most. Travis completed 22 of 32 passes and averaged nearly six yards per carry on the ground. His play helped FSU maintain lengthy, safe drives and allowed the ‘Noles to win the time of possession battle.
By just a tiny margin, Syracuse outgained Florida State in yesterday’s game by 11 yards and still lost. You don’t have to look far to find the last time such a thing happened to Syracuse: on September 11th of this year, SU outgained Rutgers 258 to 195 and lost the game. It’s a bizarre trend for a team that hadn’t lost a game in which they outgained an opponent in quite some time.
Prior to 2021, you have to go back to 2017 for the last time Syracuse did it. Coincidentally, it was also against FSU – in a 27-24 loss, the Orange outgained the Seminoles 463 to 343. In that game, Eric Dungey threw for 278 yards and ran for 109 more, but FSU quarterback James Blackman and future Los Angeles Ram Cam Akers were too much for Syracuse to handle.
It might seem odd that Syracuse outgained its opponent and still lost despite turning the ball over just once on a meaningless Garrett Shrader interception on a hail mary to end the first half. However, Syracuse went 2-12 on third down and 0-3 on fourth down to consistently stall promising drives.
Finally, Syracuse couldn’t do much to establish any kind of tempo because they couldn’t stop the run. FSU’s 247 rushing yards marked a season-worst for the SU defense. ‘Noles quarterback Jordan Travis was the main problem, but running back Jashaun Corbin gained 65 efficient yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry.
Troublingly, it was the 11th time that Syracuse allowed 200 or more rushing yards in a game since the start of the 2019 season. SU is now 2-9 in those games, with the wins coming against Western Michigan in 2019 and Georgia Tech in 2020. The 247 yards on the ground allowed by Syracuse yesterday were the most by the team since last year’s season finale at Notre Dame when they gave up 283.