FB : Syracuse fails to find balance on offense in 21-point loss to USC

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments LOS ANGELES — This time, pass heavy wasn’t supposed to be the game plan.The Syracuse offense running 17 more pass plays than run plays wasn’t what SU head coach Doug Marrone envisioned for Saturday’s game against Southern California. And because of that 38-pass-to-21-rush dynamic, the Orange finished with less than 100 total rushing yards for the second straight week.‘This week we came out, we wanted to do a couple of different things,’ Marrone said. ‘We had some shot plays we wanted to take, we wanted to be able to be 50-50 and be in a close game and be able to run the ball.’Unlike last week, when Marrone said Syracuse came out with a plan to pass against Rhode Island’s defense, SU’s goal was to establish both a solid passing and rushing game to keep the Trojans defense honest. But running back Antwon Bailey struggled to get going on the ground, and the Syracuse defense couldn’t contain the Trojans in a 38-17 loss in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Orange was forced to throw often to try and come back from a double-digit deficit in the second half.Despite Marrone’s desire for balance, Syracuse came out attacking through the air on its opening drive. Quarterback Ryan Nassib conducted an efficient 12-play, 70-yard drive down the field, completing all eight of his passes.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut much of SU’s early aerial push came on short passes to Bailey. The running back couldn’t gain substantial yardage on the ground, but he found success catching the ball in the flat.The senior, who caught 35 passes last season, had just one reception in the first two games this year. But he caught four passes for 34 yards on the Orange’s first scoring drive, capped off by a 23-yard field goal by Ross Krautman.‘We were ready to go and came down and got the ball first and made some plays,’ Nassib said. ‘It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get a touchdown, but we were happy to move the ball and get some points.’Syracuse took those three points on the opening drive but struggled to score the rest of the game. There was no rhyme or reason to when the Orange’s drives stalled — at the USC 48 on one drive, a three-and-out in another.But there was reasoning behind why the drives stalled. Too often, Nassib was faced with throwing deep on third-and-long because the Orange didn’t run the ball well enough to set up a third-and-short.‘This was a big night for us on defense,’ USC linebacker Chris Galippo said. ‘And we went into the second half and played solid. The first two weeks we gave up too many big plays and big drives. Tonight we were able to avoid that.’Syracuse came out of the locker room to start the second half down 17-3, a score that could have allowed for the Orange to keep a balanced offense early on.But after the Trojans’ marched down the field and scored a touchdown within four plays, SU had to really open up the offense and became one-dimensional.Down 24-10, Syracuse drove into Trojans territory, at the USC 35, and threatened to cut into the lead. But failed second-and-third down plays ended the threat.On third-and-8, Nassib was sandwiched by USC defensive linemen Shane Horton and DaJohn Harris. They both collapsed on the Syracuse quarterback, bringing him down for a loss of 4 yards and forcing the Orange to punt.USC scored on the ensuing drive and pushed the Trojans’ lead back to three scores, squashing all hopes of a comeback.‘It kind of had to do with the flow of the game,’ Bailey said. ‘… They made some great plays, and they made some good adjustments.’Syracuse leaves LA with some question marks on offense. Bailey had fewer than 15 carries and fewer than 50 yards rushing for the second straight game. Nassib displayed accuracy, completing 67.6 percent of his throws, but most of those throws were of the short-range variety.And the Trojans sacked Nassib three times on Saturday — the second straight game in which the SU quarterback was taken down on three separate occasions.So while Syracuse has moved the ball through the air, it hasn’t put the points up to go with it.‘Toward the end I made some mistakes trying to do too much, and that’s when the offense stalled,’ Nassib said. ‘They dialed up more pressure and did some things we hadn’t seen.’[email protected]center_img Published on September 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjrlast_img

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