Sunday's first practice of Spring football was lost in OrangeNation's Final Four hangover, and so it's time to drink some coffee, take your vitamin C and realize that football is officially here... kind of (this is where I envy lacrosse fans because they still have something to be excited about through the rest of Spring. Do we get a baseball team with the move to the ACC?).
So, in an effort to get people excited about 'Cuse football and getting out to the next Spring practice this upcoming Sunday (April 14th, 1:30 - 4pm), here's a few reasons to be excited about this 2013 Syracuse Football Team this Spring:
- King George Morris III is a manchild. Sure, we've had a prince, Prince Tyson Gulley, but George Morris III is doing his best to make the prince appear to be a pretender to the throne. He's certainly been creating a lot of buzz with the extra reps he's gotten with PTG's absence, and he's made the most of them.
- The extra reps haven't just benefited GMIII. Devante McFarlane is going beast mode as well, and showing excellent vision and just beautiful cuts. It was basically the George & Devante show, as Jerome Smith's rumbling runs just felt routine by comparison (don't get me wrong, he looked good and no one is taking the #1 spot from him).
- It's a two horse race at QB right now between Hunt and Loeb, and Hunt has the edge. He's taking more first team reps, and he is showing why he's gained the confidence of the new coaching staff with beautiful throws and better escapability than Loeb. Both had their share of bad throws as well.
- Kinder shows great escapability, perhaps better than Hunt, but Hunt has all of the tools to lead the unit with some really beautiful throws, including a laser pass to Kobena that went for 6. Kinder just didn't show that he had the capability to deliver the ball as well as Hunt or Loeb.
- In any case, this Spring may be your last chance to see Loeb in action and the other QBs until 2014 if Drew Allen decides to take his talents to South... um... campus.
- Geeky fan note - It was really cool to see the past, present and future of the position all in one place with Nassib watching from the stands/sidelines (presumably after one of his private workouts for an NFL team), the guys on the field, and an incoming recruit, Austin Wilson, hanging out with his dad on the sidelines.
- I eluded to it earlier, but Kobena has jets! That catch from Hunt that he took 20+ yards to the house, well, no one was catching him.
- Funderburk was pretty quiet until the end of practice when he had a ridiculous catch on a long pass to the corner of the endzone, going over the top of the defender who covered the play perfectly. It was just a matter of an SEC talent showing his length and athleticism.
- Clark had some nice looks as well. It's good to see him back in action since he was sort of eclipsed last Fall.
- West looks like he might be our "go to" WR with a lot of strong options surrounding him. It will be fun to watch the talent develop on the field with Kobena, Clark, Funderburk, and maybe Broyld in the slot.
- Not much to say here because it's exactly what you'd expect. Wales and Parris are two big, reliable targets with the ball frequently coming their way for nice chunks of yards.
- I think the most exciting thing about the TE position is what we haven't seen yet, with big Ron Thompson prowling around on the sidelines with an injury. He's a big, big dude that I can't wait to see take the field. Provo 2.0 gets to the Hill in the Fall, and it will be fun to see where he fits in to the rotation - word is we're going to be using him as an H-back.
- The defense was flying to the ball. I really like the intensity level and it was great to see some of the new faces come out and make plays. Wayne Morgan definitely appears to be living up to the hype, which is something I noticed even back in the Pinstripe Bowl when he came up and laid the lumber on a dude at the line of scrimmage. He just might be our next #Shamarko.
- Despite questions of depth on the defensive line, they were providing consistent pressure on the QB, racked up some sacks and forced some bad throws. It's enough to make you wonder if the defensive line is that good, or if the offensive line is that bad with the guys we've lost in the trenches on both sides. This is another position that won't really take shape until around a week before Penn State and I have a feeling that the heart and soul of this unit is going to take the form of big talkin' Wayne Williams.
- If you didn't already love this staff because of Shafer's press conference, then get out to one of these practices and enjoy the show! At one point, Hickey missed a block and offensive line coach Pat Perles absolutely laid in to him, F-bombs and all... "YOU DON'T THINK! YOU DO WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO!!!" It was awesome. Not quite Rutgers basketball level, but still right in his face. It's how good football players are made.
- Probably my favorite part of the whole day was a blatant missed call by an official and some crazed fan from the back of the stands screaming at the official while everyone else just quietly looked on. Or at least I thought it was a crazed fan. It was actually our new offensive coordinator, George McDonald, calling out a ref from the next tier. How do I know? ...because he did it more than once and I turned around to see him at full pitch the 2nd time.
- This is the sort of intensity this football team needs!
- A lot of former players showed up and practice, with Ryan Nassib watching quietly from the stands, Chandler and Arthur Jones hanging out down on the sidelines with other recent Syracuse players like Justin Pugh, Alec Lemon, Chibane and some others, it was cool to get close to the field and see those guys just hanging out without being suited up.
Hopefully this was helpful! Maybe next time I'll take notes while I'm at the practice rather than going from memory. Luckily, being there was fairly memorable. I hope this inspired you all to get out to this second practice on Sunday and, of course, the Spring game!