Smith’s stellar play helps open up SU offense in upset of No. 11 Louisville

Smith’s stellar play helps open up SU offense in upset of No. 11 Louisville

September 17, 2020 mmvxljhp 0

first_imgSyracuse is an outlier.It goes against the conventions of a hurry-up offense by being a run-first team. Jerome Smith has been at the forefront of the Orange’s reliance on the ground game. When Smith takes off and barrels his way through defenses, Syracuse’s offense becomes a versatile attack and the field opens up.Smith continued his stellar season in Syracuse’s 45-26 upset of No. 11 Louisville on Saturday at the Carrier Dome, as the running back ran for 144 yards. It was his fourth-straight game with at least 100 rushing yards, and he now has 875 yards this season. Prince-Tyson Gulley added 98 yards on the ground to provide support to help keep SU’s running game humming. As a team, Syracuse racked up 278 yards on the ground.“We’ve always talked about finishing it in practice and getting better at practice,” Smith said. “We finished hard this week and big runs came.”But it all starts with Smith.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe’s become a power back for the Orange, busting through defensive lines and battling defenders head-on. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said Smith’s become more aggressive. Rather than trying to avoid would-be tacklers, he’s running at them.On Syracuse’s first drive of the second half, it faced a third-and-2 at Louisville’s 35 yard line. Smith took the handoff from quarterback Ryan Nassib and exploded through a hole up the middle, broke free of a tackle and sprinted up the field for a 35-yard touchdown run to put Syracuse up 38-13 and all but seal the win.“That gets me fired up,” Hackett said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to get out of him. He’s putting that switch on and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to go attack these guys.’”Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone spoke during the week about the importance of running a balanced offense against Louisville. Running the ball first would open up the passing game.Smith ran 16 yards on the Orange’s first three plays. The Syracuse offensive line opened up gaping holes so the running back could see daylight. The Orange then had a first-and-10 at its own 36, and the Louisville defense was creeping up expecting another run.Instead, Nassib faked a handoff, drew the defense to him and then found wide receiver Jeremiah Kobena in the middle of the field for a 45-yard pass. Smith had 63 yards by the end of the first quarter.“The physicality of what we’ve been able to do has helped us,” Marrone said. “I don’t know if reinvented is the proper word, but I would say an emphasis on more of that and becoming a balanced team.”Syracuse has won three of its last four games. It’s no coincidence that Smith has run at least 100 yards in each. He finished all of last season with 134 rushing yards.Hackett said he and Marrone looked at how Syracuse could be most successful and realized it was when the Orange ran the ball consistently. So they challenged Smith and all of the running backs.The success of the offense — and Syracuse — is rooted in the team’s ability to pound the ball down opponents’ throats like it did against Louisville.In the second quarter, Gulley eluded a tackle and ran 55 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown. He pounded the turf once as Syracuse took a 21-point lead. When Smith’s running the ball well, the rest of the Orange’s tailbacks follow suit.“With Jerome running like that, he pretty much sets the tone for the offense,” Gulley said. “I think we just follow after him. We’re just trying to keep up, keep the momentum going and continue it.”Smith’s been keeping his own momentum going in the last four games. When he runs efficiently, Syracuse’s offense becomes more explosive.It might not be typical of a no-huddle system, but the Orange is a run-first team and Smith backed up that game plan on Saturday.Said Hackett: “Jerome’s really, really been just excellent.” Comments Published on November 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

 

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