Syracuse's seventh spring football practice returned the Orange to the friendly confines of Manley Field House, due to yesterday's rain. As usual, early arrivals were greeted by the special teams warming up about 45 minutes before the rest of the team. Ryan Lichtenstein did normal Ryan Lichtenstein things, killing 60 yard punts inside of the 5 yard line.
The offense remains far ahead of the defense, which seemed quite timid and lacked any sort of fire. It's concerning when an entire unit just doesn't seem to care about what's going on out on the field, even during practice. The offensive players would get into the defense's face after every big play, and the defense would just walk away without reaction. They seem to mimic the attitude of the consistently easygoing, laid-back Scott Shafer, who rarely shows emotion on the field, and spends his practice time talking quietly to players on the sideline.
More after the jump...
Quarterbacks - Jonny Miller has really been coming into his own, and took most of the reps with the first team yesterday. He has an amazingly quick, tight release, and virtually every pass that he threw was a tight spiral right on the money to his receiver.
Running backs - Nate Hackett spent most of the early part of practice installing a goal line package with Tombe Kose moving to halfback. He showed pretty good spring in his step, and an ability to jump the line. It's a possibility that Kose could also get carries in short yardage situations.
Wide Receivers - Dorian Graham and Jarrod West caught every pass thrown to them, and looked like the models of consistency out on the field. Marcus Sales, however, stayed on the sideline through most of the practice, looking utterly disinterested and disengaged from what was going on on the field. The rumor that made its way through the bleachers was that he doesn't feel like playing until mid-October.
Offensive Line - The line had a really dominating afternoon. While the defense did not do much in terms of blitzing, the line was able to pick it up whenever an extra rusher was sent. They also did a great job containing Mikhail Marinovich and Chandler Jones, who were rarely able to get anywhere near the quarterback. Macky MacPherson looked particularly impressive at center, and physically dominated every defensive linemen who he was matched up against. His shotgun snapping leaves something to be desired though.
Defensive Line - One of the very interesting team dynamics is the relationship between the two defensive line coaches Jimmy Brumbaugh, who coaches defensive tackles, and new Syracuse assistant coach Tim Daost who handles the defensive ends. They're constantly working together on the field to make sure that they get the most out of the players in practice. For example, yesterday Brumbaugh traded Max Beaulieu, who had been working with the tackles, to Daost and the defensive ends because he was tired of trying to figure out how to pronounce the freshman's last name.
Linebackers - Freshman Dyshawn Davis, who has been the starting WILL linebacker throughout most of the spring, decided to take a step back and let Brice Hawkes take the spot. When asked about the decision, Davis said that he feels that "Brice has been here longer, and really earned that starting spot because of his familiarity with the defense". Davis now splits plays with Mario Tull on the second team.
Defensive Backs - While the d-backs did not have their best practice, they were very gracious throughout the entirety of practice. Phillip Thomas and Ri'Shard Anderson in particular were always the first to help pick their offensive teammates from the turf after a play and congratulate them on a job well done.
Syracuse practices again (without pads) this afternoon, and has a scrimmage at 4:30 on Saturday in the Carrier Dome.