Offensive line, running game down in this week’s stock watch

first_img Published on October 16, 2019 at 12:33 pm Contact Eric: erblack@syr.edu | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse’s struggles with consistency continued as the Orange (3-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast) fell to North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1), 16-10, last Thursday at Carter-Finley Stadium.SU’s offense failed to score until there were just 54 seconds left in the third quarter. It did have a chance to win the game with one last drive late in the fourth, but the Orange offense again sputtered out and dropped Syracuse to .500 overall and winless in conference play. SU was strong on the other side of the ball, holding the Wolfpack to just 16 points. It extended its takeaway streak to 20 games, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the ineptness shown on offense.Here’s whose stock is up or down after Syracuse’s disappointing loss to NC State. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textVideo Playerhttp://dailyorange.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SOC_SU_Andrew.mp4Error loading this resource00:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Armstrong turned in the best performance of his Syracuse career against the Wolfpack, tallying a career-high 14 tackles in addition to two tackles for loss and an interception down the stretch. He was key to SU’s overall dominant defensive performance and made a number of big stops from sideline-to-sideline, including a tackle in the second quarter that may have prevented a touchdown. Later on in the second half when the Wolfpack were deep in Syracuse territory, Armstrong read a screen perfectly and picked off the pass, the second interception of his career. While Armstrong and Evan Foster were partly responsible for allowing the lone touchdown of the game — a trick wide receiver pass — the two and head coach Dino Babers chalked up the score to timely, smart play calling. Otherwise, the defense, led in large part by Armstrong, limited the damage and kept Syracuse’s offense in the game.Syracuse’s defense held firm on third downs and red zone opportunities. After struggling on third down during its three-game stretch against Maryland, Clemson and Western Michigan, SU has shown significant improvement during its past two contests, limiting Holy Cross (four-for-18) and NC State (four-for-15) to lower numbers. It forced the Wolfpack to punt the ball six times to Syracuse, which actually had more possession time than NC State. The Orange’s red zone defense, which now ranks tied for 27th in the country in terms of efficiency, also stepped up against the Wolfpack by limiting them to a pair of field goals on their two opportunities. It was by no means perfect, as SU still allowed NC State to score and had both an unsportsmanlike penalty and dropped interception in the end zone, but in a game in which just 26 total points were scored, the Orange were elite defensively.The up-and-down play of Syracuse’s running back core continued on Thursday, as Moe Neal, Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard combined for just 54 yards on 21 carries. Taking into account the yards lost on the eight times Tommy DeVito was sacked, the Orange rushed for 41 yards on 37 attempts. It marks the third game this season in which they’ve run for 70 yards or fewer. In its other three games this year, Syracuse has averaged 197.6 yards per contest. With a struggling offensive line and little to no downfield passing game, SU often faced stacked boxes and holes that closed just as they appeared.After a two-game stretch in which SU briefly gave DeVito some breathing room in the pocket and allowed just three sacks, the Orange offensive line showed their true form against the Wolfpack. DeVito, who already appeared somewhat banged up and looked hesitant to get hit, was sacked eight times and scrambled from the pocket seemingly every other play. He’s now been sacked 25 times this season, fourth-most in the country, and looks agitated whenever the pocket begins to collapse on him. That’s resulted in an inconsistent passing attack and completely negated DeVito’s running ability, all the while allowing teams to focus on stopping the run. At the midway point of the season, the only thing that’s clear about this Syracuse team is that it’s nowhere near as good as last year’s iteration. The Orange have yet to put together more than two games of consistent play and already have as many conference losses as they did last year, with a home matchup looming on Friday in which they’re an underdog against Pittsburgh. Against NC State, Syracuse had the chance to prove that it was still one of the better teams in the ACC. Instead, it showed that it was in the lower tier of teams in the conference. At the beginning of the season, reasonable expectations had the Orange expanding on their first 10-win season since 2001. Now, they’ll have to scratch and claw to make a bowl game. Commentslast_img read more