In a new feature, each week, we'll be holding a roundtable discussion with TNIAAM's football "experts" to get a read on the program's most pressing issues on- and off-the-field. Have differing opinions? Feel free to share them in the comments.
One of the more unexpected pieces of news Monday was Ron Thompson's apparent weight gain? Is this a bad sign of things to come?
Jeremy Ryan: Not necessarily. Most teens (and sometimes it's hard to remember that many of these guys are still just teenagers) fill out as they near their 20s. However, if he really added 50 pounds like some reports suggest there's no way that's all muscle.
Matt McClusky: If it's true Thompson gained over 40 pounds in just a few months, I think Syracuse could have an Oliver Miller sized problem on its hands. However, I think given the amount of hype around him, I can't say I'm too worried (yet).
A couple weeks of practice will either confirm the weight is an issue or not, but really, who cares? If the dude can play, and he stays in good-enough shape to stay on the field, I don't care what weight he's at.
Andy Pregler: Thompson's weight gain could be potentially dangerous but let's remember he isn't surrounded by Syracuse trainers 24/7 and is still growing. At this point, weight can easily be turned into muscle and many NFL players start the season on PUP list due to weight. Call me back in a couple of weeks and if it's an issue then we start worrying.
Chris Daughtrey: It depends on how the weight affects him. Is anything much over 250 ideal? No. But if the young man can remain mobile and agile while carrying the extra pounds, bigger might just be better. And if it ends up being a problem, a month until the opener is enough time to safely drop 10 pounds or so.
Dan Lyons: I think it's hard to judge without seeing him. The kid is apparently doing standing back flips at practice, and if he's in good enough shape to do that at 260+, more power to him. I expect Thompson to be one of our immediate freshmen contributors this year, so hopefully the weight gain is mostly muscle.
I'm more concerned with the fact that the 240 lb Iowa defensive end John Raymon has turned into 300+ lb Syracuse defensive end John Raymon. 60 or 70 pounds is a lot of weight for someone to put on in a year, and the fact that he left Iowa in mid-October lends me to believe it is not 'good' weight.
Sean Keeley: It just means he's gearing up for the annual, "Syracuse Athlete Loses Tons of Weight & Gets Serious About New Season" piece next year. Dave Rahme has a template ready to go.
John Cassillo: I'm a bit horrified, and wonder if Thompson's been living at the Brockway dining hall all summer. But at the same time, he is an 18-year old D-I athlete, and that weight can be worked off rather quickly. It still makes me nervous about his freshman campaign though, and I hope there's no ill effects on his play.
Can Prince-Tyson Gulley conceivably be Syracuse's feature back, or are we destined for a two-back system in 2012?
JR: I think it depends on the success of the passing attack, ironically. SU's offensive line should be a strength, so one would hope that would translate into decent rushing numbers. However, the more often SU throws the ball with success, the less wear and tear their RBs will see. I think injuries and fatigue could lead to more playing time for a backup running back than a lack of results on Prince's part.
MM: I honestly have no idea what to make of Tyson Gulley. At times he looks like a feature back, at other times he doesn't look like a running back at all. My guess, especially with the stable of players at the running back position, SU will be going with something of a tandem system for the foreseeable future.
AP: PTG doesn't translate as full-time running back in my mind. He isn't as powerful as Antwon Bailey but he's not fast enough to be a speed back. I think the Orange's best bet is going to be use Jerome Smith in goal line situations and late in the game to wear the defense down and use the differences of PTG and Smith to change the tempo of the offense. Money is on PTG starting out carrying the load but Smith works his way into more carries.
CD: I really don't think so. He's listed second on the depth chart now, though that's likely to change since he's much more versatile that Jerome Smith. Still, with how effective Smith was last year in short yardage and HCDM seeming to be intent on getting Ashton Broyld on the field at all costs, it's hard to see any one back getting the lion's share of the carries.
DL: Personally, I don't think so because I believe that Jerome Smith will get the bulk of the carries this season. That being said, I'm in favor of a multi-back system with the team we have. Between Smith, Gulley, Ameen-Moore, Broyld, and others, SU has a very diverse set of skills in the backfield. I think it is to the coaching staff's advantage to use every weapon in the arsenal to create match-up problems and keep players fresh. Last year, I wish that Smith got more carries throughout the year because by the end of the season Bailey became less and less effective, as his load increased.
SK: Right now, I get the sense we're looking at a 65-25-10 split with Jerome Smith getting the bulk of the carries with PTG fighting to get more and Adonis Ameen-Moore and Ashton Broyld taking the scraps based on the situation.
JC: Prince-Tyson Gulley actually reminds me of most of Syracuse's recent running backs. Guys that took time to split carries earlier in their careers, only to have breakout senior performances (Carter, Bailey, Brinkley). So while he'll still be doing a lot of shared duty this season and parts of 2013 too, it could all be building toward a banner 2014.
How long (realistically) do we think Justin Pugh's out for?
JR: This would be easier to answer if we knew exactly what the injury was. "Upper-body injury" doesn't exactly narrow it down. The lack of detail is more concerning than the injury itself.
MM: Is it just me or does this Pugh thing have a little feel of the infamous Arinze Onuaku "leg injury"? It seems like Coach Marrone is kind of down playing it, while everyone else is expecting Pugh to be out for a lengthy period of time.
Over the years I've become Mr. Pessimistic, but, as of right now, I'll be very surprised if we see Pugh out on the line for the Orange before October.
AP: Before the Spring game, my sources close to the team told me that the offensive line was fighting for Pugh's spot because they knew he wouldn't be ready come the start of the year. With that confirmed, I don't think the team is as illprepared as they could be. However, from what they told me, Pugh's injury would cause him to miss a few weeks at the start of the year. I would think we'll see him by conference play.
CD: Too long. I don't think HCDM has much Belichick in him. When he says Pugh will be out until lateSpetember, that's what I expect. It's hard to say without knowing exactly what the injury is. If Pugh broke his arm or tore a rotator cuff, it'll be awhile. If he just has a nasty hangnail, then not so much.
DL: While Pugh said that his goal was to be ready for week one on Axe's show, and that he would be practicing with the team in full pads, generally speaking, players don't seem to come back from injuries earlier than expected. I'd love to have him for Northwestern and USC and I'm glad that he's optimistic, but realistically, I don't think we see him until late September/early October.