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Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader made his first away game start for Syracuse at Florida State on Saturday.
Last week, Shrader walked onto the field as SU’s starter for the first time, leading the Orange to a 24-21 win over Liberty. Head coach Dino Babers said Shrader started because of his dual-threat abilities and how they could exploit the Flames’ subpar run defense. Because of the win, Babers said Shrader earned the start against Florida State, with the possibility of getting pulled for Tommy DeVito as the pair had split time in previous games.
But DeVito never went in against FSU. Despite a 33-30 loss to the Seminoles, Shrader tied an all-time school record with three rushing touchdowns at quarterback. He went from just 130 total yards against Liberty to 137 rushing yards and also threw for 150 yards and a touchdown, going 13 for 23 on pass attempts.
These are the key plays that helped Shrader solidify his starting role against Florida State:
Run Shrader Run
After a dismal first quarter where Shrader said Florida State was able to stop a lot of the Orange’s “base stuff,” Syracuse started to spread the ball out more. On the play before this one, Shrader rolled out to his left and connected with Sharod Johnson on a comeback route near the sideline.
In this clip, Shrader rolls out to his right, this time the Seminoles’ defense expecting him to try and find another receiver open for a short gain. FSU’s defensive backs do a good job guarding everyone, not paying attention to the quarterback. But they should have.
Keeping the ball high, Shrader makes it look as if he’s still looking to pass as he avoids pressure from then-Football Bowl Subdivision sack leader Jermaine Johnson II. The attempt to avoid Johnson took him past the line of scrimmage, so Shrader took off toward the right sideline.
But Shrader’s strength comes from his ability to make the defense think he’s doing something that he’s actually not. After a few steps, Shrader’s head shifts to the left as he sees Chris Elmore ready to lay out a block to make space for him to run through. He changes course, going behind Elmore as the fullback takes out almost three players.
While most quarterbacks would just look straight and hope that no one catches them, Shrader does a good job of maintaining his track and moving his head from side to side to see where the defenders are. If Shrader stays on the right hash, he knows he can get to the end zone, which he does.
Shrader said after the game that this run in particular was a test on his “conditioning,” something he needs to improve on for future games that require him to run the ball a lot. Nevertheless, the lack of fear in Shrader’s head when he’s running is obvious, and something he should use to his advantage the rest of the year.
Fourth down mistake
While Shrader has a strong ability to use his legs on designed QB runs and rollouts, one aspect he still needs to improve on is the read option.
Read options in Babers’ offense leave the quarterback with a few options: pitch the ball to a motioning receiver, hand it off to a running back or keep it themselves. The decision is dependent on how the defensive end reacts after the snap, as he’s left unblocked on the play.
But on this play, Shrader makes the wrong choice. Instead of a defensive end, the Orange left nose guard Fabien Lovett unblocked. Lovett leaps right at Shrader, making a handoff to running back Abdul Adams, the right decision.
Because of his success running in the red zone, Shrader kept the ball. Some replays showed he actually did cross the plane, but the play was reviewed and referees ruled he was short. Still, Shrader shouldn’t have kept the ball.
Though he got it right during most of the game, Shrader needs to react to the defense. But sometimes a quarterback needs to adapt to what happens right after the snap, and on this play Shrader acted wrong.
Following the goal line stand, Shrader and Syracuse’s offense quickly got to work trying to erase the time it spent on a meaningless drive. Still down by 10, the Orange went to a play action bootleg play on second down, sending Shrader rolling out to the right side of the field.
Like his first rushing touchdown, this is a designed play action pass. But with only one defender, Quashon Fuller, chasing him after he fakes the handoff to Tucker, Shrader again gets the feeling that he can take off. Elmore is wide-open on a crossing route, and other deep routes are starting to open up, so Shrader keeps the ball high if he decides to throw — which he ultimately didn’t.
Shrader hugs the right hash, quickly tucking the ball into his right arm. As some of FSU’s defensive backs start to make their way toward the transfer, he curls a little bit into the middle of the field, where he’s met by Jarrian Jones.
Most quarterbacks would slide seeing a defender ready to blow their helmet off right in front of them. But Shrader doesn’t shy away from contact. Instead he goes airborne, leaping and somersaulting to the 15-yard line. He went airborne again on a QB sneak two plays later.
“We had a lot more confidence in the offense that we were able to make plays, but obviously it wasn’t enough,” Shrader said.
Selling the play action
After a first half filled with quick passes or run plays from the Orange, they came out in the second half with a series of play action packages. The key to this working is the quarterback’s ability to fool the opposing defense.
On third-and-10, Florida State is expecting a pass from Shrader to get the chains moving for Syracuse. But right after the snap, Shrader fakes a handoff to Tucker for a few seconds, causing the second level of FSU’s defense to creep up toward the line of scrimmage.
This movement leaves any throw into the middle of the field wide-open. Luckily for Shrader, the Seminoles also made a defensive mistake, confused about who was guarding Anthony Queeley, after he motioned before the snap.
Shrader delivers a dime to Queeley, guiding him toward the left sideline, where he could cut up and try to get to the pylon. After catching the ball at the 10-yard line, Queeley turned upfield into the end zone, silencing the crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium.
“We’ve been working on that a lot during practice, even staying after practice and getting some more reps in,” Queeley said. “The more comfortable that (Shrader) feels, the more comfortable that we get as a receiver.”
The post Film Review: Despite loss to FSU, Garrett Shrader passes 1st ACC test appeared first on The Daily Orange.