Syracuse Football Roundtable: Who's the Orange's Most Important Offensive Player?

USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the weekly Syracuse football roundtable! As we get things started again for fall, TNIAAM's esteemed panel takes a look at SU's most important offensive players this season.

We're two weeks (!!!) from college football season, everybody! And that means it's time to start asking questions which we won't have an answer to until months from now. We'll be resuming our typical format (reviewing last week, previewing next week) by the final week of August. But in the meantime, no harm in tossing around a few other hot topics before we start playing some actual games.

This Week: Who's Syracuse's Most Important Offensive Player for the 2013 Season?

Andrew Pregler: I'm going with Jerome Smith for one simple reason: everyone knows he's the workhorse this year. Last year, we saw so many flashes that showed he's got the perfect combination of power and elusiveness that leads to power based running backs becoming dominant. The challenge this year is that instead of having a proven quarterback to air it out, the first few weeks of the season, arguably some of the most challenging, will be Smith versus the field as Syracuse should be running him and PTG as much as possible. Gulley is going to held shoulder the load but ultimately it's Smith's backfield. He's the motor for the offense this year as his effectiveness will more than likely directly correlate with that of the offense as a whole.

The Invisible Swordsman: Robinson Foy - OL; Coming in at 615 pounds, this guy is a total beast!... Okay, who am I kidding?  We're really talking about New York natives Nick Robinson and Ivan Foy. The right side of our offensive line is young and largely inexperienced, and their performance is very much going to determine just how hard-nosed we're going to be on the offensive side of the ball. Will we delight in watching Jerome and PTG break for daylight or cringe as our two backs engage in a never-ending death scramble just to get back to the line of scrimmage? Nick, Ivan, we're counting on you.

FeloniousPhunk: I think it has to be Prince-Tyson Gulley. Syracuse is in a major transition period. Lost a QB who was arguably the second best ever to play the position at Syracuse. Lost the head coach who brought the program back to respectability. Moving to a new conference. The best way to win while dealing with change on this scale is to have a solid defense and a prolific running game. Despite losing Justin Pugh to the NFL, I think Jerome Smith has the singular talent to still produce out of the back field. PTG will be the key to making a decent season a good one.  He's a great chance of pace from the downhill style of Smith. If Gulley can continue to use his speed and pass catching ability to compliment Rome's power running game, Syracuse has a chance to surprise some people.

Sean Keeley: I'm torn because the quarterback is always the most important player on the offense. That said, given that we don't know exactly what to expect from the offense and we don't even know who the QB will actually be, I'm going to defer to Jerome Smith. The RB has the potential to change Syracuse's fortunes if he plays as well as we hope he will. Obviously, he's relying on the line to give him holes and places to run, but if he can turn a 70-yard game into a 130-yard game and be the kind of difference-maker who gets us one more win than we would have had without him, that could be the difference between sitting at home in December and enjoying the fine life of a Belk Bowl participant.

John Cassillo: Who's playing quarterback? But seriously, it might end up being left tackle Sean Hickey. We all saw the change in rushing production from the first few weeks without Justin Pugh at left tackle, to what happened thereafter (more yards, yards per carry, and WINS). While Jerome Smith and PTG are the players ultimately carrying the ball, Hickey is the key to their success in doing so. Plus, with the line lacking in terms of experience, he'll be looked to as a leader at the left tackle spot. Despite Syracuse's confidence heading to the ACC, we are facing bigger defensive linemen there than we did in the Big East. The O-line -- especially Hickey -- have to be up to the task, or the running game is toast.

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So what do you think? Is your pick one of the running backs, Jerome Smith or PTG? Or is it one of our offensive linemen? Perhaps it's Jarrod West instead? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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