Syracuse went over 300-yards on the ground in back to back weeks as they opened ACC play. Against North Carolina State, their rushing attack was critical in the Orange pulling out a road win. Despite their seemingly simplistic look at first glance, they require precise execution from each player involved. CuseNation.com took a look at the tape to break down three big gainers from Saturday's performance.
1st Quarter 10:22 left, Score 0-0
Syracuse lines up in a three wide receiver set with Terrel Hunt in the shotgun, flanked by Jerome Smith. Beckett Wales is lined up at the right side of the offensive line. Right guard Nick Robinson will pull as left guard Rob Trudo will collapse on the defensive tackle, as demonstrated in the arrows below.
As soon as the ball is snapped, Robinson pulls and heads towards the left side of the line. Trudo and Macky MacPherson push the defensive tackles towards the right side while Sean Hickey seals the edge by pushing the defensive end up field. Robinson enters the hole created by Trudo, MacPherson and Hickey.
Once Robinson gets into the hole, he identifies the N.C. State linebacker and immediately engages. With Smith following right behind, the result is a clear lane to Robinson's left. Smith uses his excellent vision to explode through and get into the open field. The result was a 30-yard gain.
4th Quarter 6:30 left, Score 10-10
Another three wide receiver set for the Orange with Hunt in the pistol. Jerome Smith is behind Hunt in the backfield, with Wales to the right side of the offensive line once again. This time, Trudo is the one who pulls.
With Trudo pulling, Ivan Foy and Robinson drive down against the Wolfpack defensive tackles. Wales take the end play-side in the picture below, while Hickey backs up to keep the other end from chasing Jerome Smith down.
Trudo enters the hole created by Wales and Foy and finds the linebacker trying to fill. Smith follows Trudo, sees the gaping hole and explodes through. The two collapsing Wolfpack defenders cannot get to Smith in time as he splits them into the open field. The result is a 57-yard gain that sets up Syracuse's go-ahead score.
4th Quarter 4:00 left, Score 17-10 Syracuse
The Orange line up in another three wide receiver set. Much like Smith's long run earlier in the quarter, Syracuse is in the pistol. Behind Hunt is Prince-Tyson Gulley. On the left side of the line and one step back is fullback Clay Cleveland who pulls along with Trudo on this play.
MacPherson slides down and takes out the tackle opposite Trudo when they line up. Foy and Robinson take out the other tackle, leaving the defensive end free for the moment as Gulley fakes to the left before coming back right to take the handoff.
Trudo takes the defensive end who comes up field. He pushes him further up field to create a gap where Clay Cleveland enters with Foy controlling the other tackle. Gulley follows Cleveland into the hole.
Cleveland finds a linebacker trying to fill and immediately engages. He pushes him back towards the interior, creating a gaping hole for Gulley. The former Pinstripe Bowl MVP hits the hole hard and explodes into the open field. The result is a 48-yard run that leads to a Hunt game-clinching touchdown run.
Creating running lanes that spring a back into the open field as in the three plays above requires several moving pieces executing to perfection. The Orange were able to do just that as they ran to their first ACC victory.