After the Akron loss I wrote about how this year’s football team was doing based purely by the numbers so far. Now that we are 5 games into the season and heading into a bye week I thought it would be a good time to look at the Orange’s ranks in some selected categories. These stats and rankings are from the official NCAA statistics and rankings website.
First, let’s touch on some positives-which happen to be entirely on the offensive side of the ball. The rushing offense this year has been vastly improved, as Syracuse ranks 55th nationally in rushing . This is a huge change from the previous rushing offenses under Greg Robinson, which had national rankings of 105 (2005), 97 (2006), and 118 (2007). Curtis Brinkley is currently tied for 34th in the country with 95.4 yards per game. My guess is that this success is mainly due to the improved run blocking and coaching of Mitch Browning who was known for his rushing attacks at Minnesota.
The offensive line is also pass protecting much better, giving up only 1.4 sacks per game. Compare that to the previous years averages of 3.36 (2005), 3.75 (2006) and 4.5 (2007) and it is clear that something is going right this year on the line.
This improved offensive line play has helped Cameron Dantley get off to a solid since taking over for Andrew Robinson, as he is the 47th in passing efficiency in the nation. His 132.81 rating is the highest for a Syracuse QB since Troy Nunes had a rating of 134.51 in the 2000 season. Below is the Syracuse leaders in QB rating since 2000 (player must have 15 attempts/game to rank nationally):
Granted this isn’t a murder’s row of QBs and his numbers aren’t a great deal better than the others on this list, but it could be a sign of things to come for Dantley for the rest of the season and heading into next year.
Defensively, however, it is just more of the same. The Orange are at or close to the bottom of the Big East and all of Division 1A football, just like they have been through most of Robinson’s tenure. It has been said hundreds of times, but for a highly thought of defensive coach as Robinson was when he was hired, his teams have played some damn terrible defense.
So despite the strides the offense has made this year under Browning the team continues to struggle defensively, and in the standings. I guess the old saying that defense wins football games has never been more apparent than with the Syracuse program for the last few seasons.