How Syracuse dominated Purdue at the goal line in 35-20 win

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The Orange are now 3-0 for the second straight season, the only time in Dino Babers’ tenure that this has happened.

SU never really dominated the Boilermakers in the passing attack like it had against Colgate and Western Michigan. With tight end Oronde Gadsden II missing the remainder of the season due to a Lisfranc injury, Garrett Shrader and his wide receivers struggled to air it out. Shrader finished the day with 184 passing yards, no passing touchdowns and one interception. But the quarterback made up for it by rushing for a career high 195 yards and four touchdowns.

Much of SU’s success, both on offense and defense, came in the red zone and more specifically at the goal line. Syracuse used bunch sets and Shrader’s legs to score, while the defense locked down from within the 20-yard line.

Here’s how the Orange commanded the goal line in their 35-20 win:

Justin Barron sets the tone

After Syracuse punted its first drive away, Purdue quarterback Hudson Card completed passes to Devin Mockobee and Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen to eventually get the Boilermakers into the red zone. Tyrone Tracy Jr. got Purdue down to the 5-yard line, but Rocky Long’s defense didn’t allow a yard on the next two plays, setting up a 4th-and-1.

On this play, the Boilermakers’ top receiving option, Deion Burks, lined up at running back. Considering Burks didn’t have a single carry this season before that play, the Orange planned to play man defense on a pass, as Isaiah Johnson followed the motioning Tracy Jr.

Card faked the handoff to Burks and slightly rolled to the right. Within Card’s line of vision, all of his receivers were covered in the end zone, so he decided to scramble. SU safety Justin Barron snuck from behind to force the first fumble of the night.

Barron lined up on the left side of the defensive line, initially looking like he’d rush the quarterback. He eventually got into a blocking battle with Burks and running back Dylan Downing. As Card sprinted for the first down, Barron shed off his blockers and used his right hand to punch the ball out. Leon Lowery picked up the first of Syracuse’s three fumble recoveries.

Shrader the trickster

On the next drive, Shrader got the Orange into a 1st-and-goal situation by completing a 27-yard pass to Damien Alford and making back-to-back rushing plays for 15 and 20 yards.

Now in the red zone, Syracuse showed off its bunch set. The Orange brought in six offensive linemen and tight end Max Mang. Over half of the blockers, including fullback/defensive lineman Rashard Perry, lined up on the left side, giving the indication of a run with LeQuint Allen Jr. through the A or B gap.

But Shrader faked the handoff to Allen Jr., disguising the run by putting the ball in his left hand. Once Shrader spun the other way, he put the ball back in his right hand and casually strolled into the end zone.

Nearly every Purdue defender looked the other way, with their backs facing Shrader. One of those included linebacker Scotty Humpich, who had the sole purpose of containing Shrader.

Defensive lineman turned blocker

Late in the second quarter, Syracuse showed off the bunch set again, looking to increase its lead to two touchdowns. Once again, the Orange stacked the left side with four offensive linemen (J’Onre Reed, Chris Bleich, Mark Petry and Enrique Cruz Jr.), Mang and Perry. Meanwhile, Jakob Bradford and backup tight end David Clement occupied the right side of the line.

Instead of Shrader faking a handoff, Allen Jr. got the ball this time. The Orange ran variations of this play three times against Western Michigan. But with Purdue’s top edge rushers coming from the right side of its line, SU’s offense added blockers to the offensive line’s left side.

Allen Jr. got the ball and looked for blockers. As Bleich moved right to assist Reed, Allen Jr. came behind Cruz Jr. and Petry. The duo shoved two Boilermaker defenders out of the way, but that left Purdue’s Damarjhe Lewis.

Enter Perry, the freshman defensive lineman who got some spotlight during fall camp. Perry got above Lewis, opening the door for Allen Jr. to score his fifth touchdown in 2023. Fellow defensive lineman Elijah Wright took up this role in the preseason and against the Broncos. But last night, Perry took up the role.


Contact Henry: [email protected]

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