While running back isn't a trouble spot for the Orange, there's some big shoes to fill in the case of Curtis "Why Did We Stop Calling Him Boonah" Brinkley, who graduated after last season. Old-timer Delone Carter came into the spring ready to compete with upstart Antwon Bailey while the both of them held off supposed star-in-the-making Averin Collier. Turns out that all three are making a najor case for playing time this season and the coaching staff couldn't be happier.
Carter was named the pre-practice starter at the position, though he and Bailey appear to be 1 and 1-A. Then there's Collier, the former Rochester star who has raised his game and become a force in short-yardage situations.
"I'm happy with the play of the running backs," Marrone said after Monday night's practice. "I think they go out there from the standpoint of - to answer a question that maybe that was asked before - I'm happy with the way they practice. I'm happy with the way they go out there and compete. There's a lot of competition at that position. You see players getting better. That's what we're looking at establishing at all of the positions. We really are."
Marrone has actually renamed the tailback position the "Super Back" in honor of Syracuse's tradition at the spot. Early indications seem to be that Carter and Bailey will fight it out early on in the season for top dog status. Expect to see Collier involved as well, be it at the Super Back position or on special teams.
Delone Carter, for one, is humbled:
"There's so many things I can do out of this offense, Carter said. "It's going to surprise me sometimes to see what I do out of it."
Can you picture Delone standing in front of the mirror in his bedroom shouting "I am AMAZED! I have SHOCKED and SURPRISED myself yet again!"? Cause I can.
|Donnie Webb's Orange Football Report: The Three RB's|
Good thing the runners are up to the challenge because one of the issues QB Ryan Nassib will be working to improve this summer is his ability to throw the long ball. Nassib has had some issues throwing consistent deep passes, which is a shame considering Mike Williams is more than happy to catch them. To his credit, Ryan is taking it in stride:
"We faced a defense that we haven't really been taught to play against," Nassib said. "We kind of just went against the flow, kind of take it as it comes. We've got a lot to learn. It was our first day seeing that. We're going to correct it by tomorrow and get it right on Wednesday."
Donnie Webb has more on why Doug Marrone's practices are all sunshine and buttercups like his predecessor. Long way to go...long way to go.