Syracuse fell 28-6 to Louisville on Friday, in large part because of their offensive mistakes. Every time the Orange had a chance to gain momentum, they experienced a setback that put the game further out of their grasp.
One of those major plays happened late in the third quarter. Wayne Williams had just recovered a fumble that gave the Orange the ball in Louisville territory. The first snap after the turnover resulted in a Terrel Hunt interception. Let’s take a look at the play.
Syracuse lines up with three wide receivers and two running backs flanking Terrel Hunt. In the slot is Ben Lewis, Hunt’s primary read on this play.
Hunt fakes a handoff to Ervin Philips while Lewis takes off the up the field. He is running a classic comeback route. It is designed to give the opposing corner the impression that he is running a deep seam route. When Lewis gets to about the 30, he stops his route and comes back towards the line of scrimmage, but slants towards the sideline. The receiver at the top of the screen runes a deep pattern up the sideline, clearing the area of other defenders.
Here, Lewis has started coming back. He has a clear path to the sideline as the corner in coverage is trailing him by a step or two. There is plenty of room to place the ball so that only Lewis can make a play. Proper ball placement is towards the outside.
A few steps later, and from another angle, the Louisville corner is trying to undercut Lewis. Even still, there is room to the outside where the ball can be place because Lewis ran a strong route and created separation. The ball, however, is thrown to the inside of Lewis, allowing cornerback Gerod Holliman to make a play on the ball.
The ball is not only inside of Lewis, but so much so that he has to reach back away from where the momentum of his route is taking him. Holliman is in a perfect spot, because of where the ball is placed, to pick off the pass. Had the ball been placed to the outside, Lewis has a catch and gives Syracuse a first down around the Louisville 30. Unfortunately for the Orange, the inaccurate throw resulted in a turnover and another loss of potential momentum.