In football, a key to success at any level is to keep your opponent guessing. The element of surprise allows offenses to test their opponents ability to think and react on their feet without being able to rely on practice or previous game film to assist their play.
It’s all about gaining an edge. Or so we thought.
Syracuse University’s offensive coordinator Tim Lester told Syracuse.com today that the team used one offensive cadence all year. What this means is that for every single down Syracuse played on offense, the timing for when they snapped the ball was the same. Hut, hut, go! Every time.
This lets defensive lineman and linebackers cue in to the snap, erasing any confusion or hesitation on the defensive side of the ball. They know when to attack, and they can attack with confidence.
Perhaps this was strategic? Now there’s one less thing to think about on offense! All I have to do is remember the play and know my role, no more messing around with false start penalties
Unfortunately for Syracuse, it didn’t translate. In fact, Syracuse last year scored on only 8.4 percent of their offensive drives, fourth worst in the FBS since 2004. It’s not like there was one bad game that brought that number down either, Syracuse scored a combined 47 points in the last FIVE games of the season, something that has only been done twice before since 2004.
Fortunately for Syracuse, the team is making adjustments. Offensive coordinator Tim Lester has spend a significant portion of spring practices drilling new snap counts and re-evaluating the playbook. Lester and the Orange are not willing to sit idly by as ACC opponents get comfortable with Syracuse’s timings. It’s been a tough transition, but a necessary one.
“The offense jumped while practicing snap counts “like 27 times” that first day. The next practice the number of penalties dwindled to 13, then seven, then three,” Lester said.
The O-Line was forced to complete three up-downs every time they jumped offsides early.
“They do it now the moment I blow the whistle they do, then pop up and run the play,” Lester said. “It’s hilarious.”
Let’s see if this new set can give ‘Cuse the mental edge they lacked last year. With such abysmal offensive numbers last year, we hope they can only improve from here.
As for stars to watch out for on Syracuse, check out elite pass rusher Ron Thompson on the other side of the ball, a redshirt sophomore who has a great motor and nose for the football.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY