Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 55

40 OCT. 3, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI TEMPO TIME Back in 2014, new Notre Dame de‑ fensive coordinator Brian VanGorder's first major indoctrination to the way offenses have changed in college foot‑ ball came during the 50‑43 victory over North Carolina. The Tar Heels' fast‑ paced offense ran 84 plays (42 rushing and 42 passing) for 516 yards. Thereafter, many other Irish oppo‑ nents used a similar blueprint during Notre Dame's 7‑5 regular season, and VanGorder admitted it was a ma‑ jor change because his scheme was predicated so much on situational substitutions. The up‑tempo, no‑ huddle attacks don't allow the time for defensive players to shuffle in and out of the lineup. The 2016 Syracuse Orange could be as fast‑paced as any offense Notre Dame has ever played. During its 1‑2 start, Syracuse led the nation in plays run with 279 (93.0 per game), while national title contender Houston was right behind at 271, and Baylor was tied with Hawai'i at 270. After running a "mere" 81 plays in the season‑opening win over Col‑ gate, Syracuse ran off 93 plays for 414 yards in the 62‑28 loss to Louisville Sept. 10, and then had an astounding 105 plays for 549 yards in the 45‑20 defeat to South Florida the next week. For context, consider that Notre Dame ran 66.5 plays per contest last year. For even more perspective, the 1970 Notre Dame team that finished No. 2 nationally under head coach Ara Parseghian averaged what is still an NCAA‑record 92.4 plays per game. There are numerous bugs to work out for the Orange under first‑year head coach Dino Babers, who was 18‑9 at Bowling Green from 2014‑15 and 19‑7 at Eastern Illinois from 2012‑13, but his system has proven to be effective. At Eastern Illinois, Babers inherited a 2‑9 program that he transformed into 7‑5 his first year with quarter‑ back Jimmy Garoppolo, who is now with the New England Patriots. The next year, the Panthers went 12‑2 and ranked No. 1 in the Football Bowl Subdivision with Garoppolo in total offense (589.5 per game) and scoring offense (48.2 points per game). At Bowling Green last year, the Falcons finished fourth nationally in total offense (546.8 yards per game). His influence already is being felt at Syracuse, which was 118th in total of‑ fense last year at 319.9, but after three games this season was at 505.7 (23rd nationally). "We're in the beginning stages be‑ cause of where we started from," Ba‑ bers said of this year's 1‑2 start. "I said that out of all the places I've been, this is going to be the toughest transition I've ever had because of what was taught previously before we got here. "It does not mean that what they were teaching was wrong. It just means that that was the 'Z' and we're operating from the A‑side of the al‑ phabet. It's a huge transition, so as we grow together we'll get better and better at it." Eight starters returned on offense from last season, led by sopho‑ more dual‑threat quarterback Eric Dungey, who passed for 1,298 yards and rushed for 351 last year despite missing four games with an injury. This year, he already had 960 yards through the air (320.0 per game). However, if Syracuse is to return to .500 level play, the defense will need vast improvement. It finished 90th in scoring defense at 31.0 points per game last year. The team's top 2015 player, defen‑ sive end Ron Thompson, opted to forego his senior year to enter the NFL Draft, and that position was further ravaged when two freshmen (Amir Ealey and Qaadir Sheppard) were kicked off the team for a viola‑ tion of team rules. In the opening weeks this year, the Orange second‑ ary also incurred two season‑ending injuries to starters Antwan Cody and Juwan Daniels. GAME PREVIEW: SYRACUSE Through three weeks, first-year Syracuse head coach Dino Babers' up-tempo offensive attack led the country in plays run with 279 (93.0 per game). PHOTO COURTESY SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS Top STorylineS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 3, 2016