In Syracuse football’s 31-14 loss to Clemson on Saturday, the Orange’s offense wasn’t particularly inspiring. SU turned the ball over three times, quarterback Garrett Shrader just barely completed 50% of his passes, and running back LeQuint Allen led the team in rushing with just 52 yards.
Many Syracuse fans might point to QB-turned-tight end Dan Villari as the lone bright spot on the team. He tallied 65 receiving yards, including a 28-yard touchdown.
However, the real positive is more general than just one player. Syracuse football’s offense is better when it’s creative with everyone, not just one player.
Now, in the matchup with Clemson, Dan Villari was the player that offensive coordinator Jason Beck channeled his unique play calling through. During two trick plays, the Michigan transfer received backwards passes then threw the ball. One was dropped by Donovan Brown. The other resulted in Damien Alford drawing a pass interference call.
Despite the partial lack of execution, the actual set up on these plays worked well. However, they don’t have to be limited. Don’t forget about LeQuint Allen’s 33-yard passing touchdown in the Wake Forest game last season. I’m not saying Allen has as reliable of an arm as Villari, a former quarterback, but to keep trick plays tricky, there have to be a few guys that can pull off the job.
Creative play calling isn’t limited to a non-QB throwing the ball. If Trebor Pena gets healthy, he could feast on jet sweeps. Beck showed his affinity for that strategy in the Pinstripe Bowl last season. Even if Pena isn’t the one doing it, that could be another play that gets called more going forward.
Another option is the wildcat. Villari took a direct snap against Clemson, but again, this is something several members of the SU offense could succeed at. Allen, Damien Alford, or really any skill position player has a strength that could be highlighted directly behind the line of scrimmage.
Should Syracuse football rely on trick plays? Absolutely not. The Orange should use a traditional offense as their bread and butter. However, when Shrader is having an inaccurate game and Allen is struggling to find holes, it makes sense for some creative plays to get sprinkled in than Shrader scrambling and taking hit after hit.