John: SU needs to fix offensive ineptitude, inconsistency heading into bowl game

first_img Comments For a single five-and-a-half minute stretch Saturday, Syracuse fans were shown a glimpse of what they’ve been missing seemingly all season. For that one little blip, the Orange offense cruised down the field en route to a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that could have easily added to the frustration of SU’s largest home crowd of the season. Frustration because of how well the Orange has performed at various times this season, but without a hint of consistency. During those 12 plays, quarterback Ryan Nassib efficiently ran the offense, hitting on all five of his passing attempts for 57 yards. Antwon Bailey ran for 31 yards and SU’s only touchdown. It was a sight rarely beheld by the Carrier Dome crowd this season, especially during the final stretch of the season. All this despite not having starting running back Delone Carter available, as he stood banged up on the sidelines for the second half. It was the proverbial ‘Where has this been?’ moment for the Orange during its final stretch of the regular season. The results of the last four games have been evidence for Syracuse. Three losses, only four touchdowns during that four-game stretch. Just 11.5 points per game. In the process, the Orange went from second in the Big East standings, with a chance at a BCS bowl berth, to now sitting fourth in the league with a week to go.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Those recent offensive struggles have been the prime subject of nearly every one of SU head coach Doug Marrone’s press conferences over the last four weeks. It has been noted that this is a young offensive squad with multiple first-year starters. The depth chart is thin. Players are nicked up after eight consecutive weeks without a break. Though Marrone doesn’t like to make excuses, the reasons for the struggles are valid. ‘Consistency is important. Playmakers are important, and making plays is important,’ Marrone said. ‘What has happened is we have been beat up. We don’t have the same speed and efficiency that we had earlier in the year because of injuries that you do not want to have right now.’ But despite the reasons for the ineptitude, any team playing in the postseason shouldn’t be having such a difficult time putting points on the board. Even a year ago, when SU won just four games, its offense didn’t have a four-game stretch as bad as this one. And heading into a bowl game in a matter of weeks, it’s the one thing that could spell disaster for a team many pegged as one that has turned a corner on the rough days of yesteryear. When asked about the offensive issues Saturday, all Marrone could do was smile and shake his head to prevent the poignant frustration from boiling over. ‘If I knew the answer to that, I would attack it and go,’ Marrone said. With the exceptions of Carter and center Ryan Bartholomew, every other player on the offensive side of the ball has stepped into a new role this season. Yes, Nassib still has two years of eligibility after this season. Yes, in theory, the Orange offense should have some returning experience coming back next season. But Marrone has never been one to look too far ahead. He’s likely focusing on how to fix the problem now. With SU now focusing solely on a bowl game, it’s safe to say the offense will be under the microscope over the next couple weeks. ‘Being the quarterback, I almost try to do too much, which usually comes back and gets you,’ Nassib said Saturday. ‘Everyone is trying to make plays, and we just have to relax and play ball.’ Syracuse has now finished its regular season and has secured itself a spot in a bowl to be determined later. But to avoid an embarrassing performance when it gets there, the kinks on offense need to be worked out. In spite of the fact that Marrone and Co. will have a few weeks to rest and prepare for its next opponent, it will be nearly impossible for this offense to suddenly start hitting on all cylinders. But well rested and perhaps a bit healthier, the Orange offense will need to improve for SU to capture a bowl victory. And after that small glimpse into just how efficient its offense can move the ball, anything less would be a disappointment heading into the offseason. Andrew L. John is the sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at aljohn@syr.edu. Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 27, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *