A key play in Syracuse's high octane, up-tempo offense is the wide receiver screen. In week against Colgate, the Orange had a lot of success with this in a variety of situations out of a variety of formations. In order for those plays to work, however, the other receivers must block well.
CuseNation.com reviewed the film to take a look at how they did in week one.
Play 1 - 1st & 10
Slot receiver Ervin Philips immediately turns towards the quarterback when the ball is snapped. Outside receiver Steve Ishmael is the critical part of this play. He has to block the cornerback on that side of the field in order to give Philips room to run. As the corner starts to crash down, Ishmael runs to engage. Tight end Cameron MacPherson must also engage and block the linebacker who will try to fill the hole.
Ishmael successfully blocks his man and takes him out of the play. With MacPherson slowing down the linebacker, Philips has a lane to run through. The result is picking up six yards when the safety makes the tackle.
Play 2 - 3rd & 3
As the ball is snapped, notice Syracuse's tempo causes Colgate cornerback Cortney Mimms to look confused about his assignment. He is looking in a different direction than his man. This is likely due to the fact that he is on the outside with two receivers. Philips is in the slot ready to receive a quick pass.
Right after Dungey's pass is completed, Philips turns up field to pick up the first down. With Amba Etta-Tawo blocking Mimms well to take him out of the play, Philips has the lane needed to move the chains.
Play 3 - 3rd & 1
Syracuse lines up with three receivers split to the short side of the field. As the Orange push tempo once again, the slot receivers Brisly Estime and Erv Philips quickly identify their blocking assignment. Etta-Tawo takes a step back to receive the pass from Dungey.
Philips and Estime are critical on this play. Without proper blocking from them, Etta-Tawo cannot pick up the necessary yardage for a first down. Philips is able to slow his man down just enough while Estime engages his as well. Etta-Tawo turns up field with enough of a lane to get the first down.
Because of the blocking by Philips and Estime combined with the tempo, Etta-Tawo is not touched until he is well beyond the first down marker.
The quick screen served Syracuse well in week one and will continue to be an important part of the offense. Blocking from the receivers is important, and it has clearly been an area of focus during training camp. Every receiver will be expected to block at some point during the game while also having opportunities to make plays when the time is right.
After one week, it appears blocking may be a strength of this unit. A bigger test comes in week two against a talented Louisville defense.