Syracuse football's 2015 spring practices are already well under way at Ensley Athletic Center. And as we prepare ourselves for another season, we'll spend some time previewing everything that matters on and off field for the Orange. Today's topic:
How Do You Rebuild an Offensive Line?
Who's no longer at Syracuse?
Last year's starters John Miller (center) and Sean Hickey (left tackle) are gone, leaving two huge holes in a line that struggled to stay on the field together last year. While their absences -- especially Hickey's -- will be felt pretty heavily for this unit, 2014's injuries also gave a lot of reserves some opportunities to contribute, which hopefully makes the transition a bit easier this year.
Who's on campus?
A bunch of players, which also leads to a bunch of question marks, too, since it's unclear who's really going to start -- at least right now. Unfortunately, the unit's best player, guard/center Rob Trudo, is out for the rest of spring with a high ankle sprain. That's obviously a bad sign given his shift to the center spot was being seen as a positive sign for the group, plus with Terrel Hunt getting back into the swing of things, that familiarity could've paid dividends. Jason Emerich now takes over those duties short-term, along with converted tight end Kendall Moore and Donnie Foster.
Elsewhere, Nick Robinson, Jamar McGloster, Michael Lasker, Aaron Roberts, Ivan Foy and Omari Palmer all figure to play large roles in the offensive line rotation this fall. Other names to at least be familiar with on campus this spring: Alex Hayes, Jon Burton, Denzel Ward, Tayler Hindy, Seamus Shanley and Keaton Darney.
Who's arriving this summer?
Plenty of options, actually, all of whom could form the next solid offensive line group for the Orange. Evan Adams, Colin Byrne, Sam Clausman, Cody Conway, and AJ Deurig all arrive this summer, and there's a very good chance nearly all of them redshirt. If we see injuries like we did last year, though, perhaps a couple of the more highly-touted newcomers end up seeing the field a bit, but that's not a given at all. Still, a lot of expectations for these recruits as they grow into their roles at SU.
Who are the likely starters coming out of spring?
Trudo at center, for sure... as long as that ankle heals up (and it should). Robinson and Palmer should probably be your starting guards. With McGloster or Lasker grabbing one tackle spot, and Ivan Foy taking the other. The others could be in the mix -- Roberts, in particular, at guard -- but for now, set some expectations for familiar faces coming out of spring before things actually (maybe) shake up this summer.
What's changing in comparison to last season?
A lot, and a little, all at once. Hickey's absence is huge, as the team loses an NFL-caliber tackle and trades him out for experienced players who will still end up creating a bit of a drop-off at the position early on. Of all the linemen on the roster, Trudo is the only one close to NFL-level (and still, going to take some work and production). With a simplified, more suitable offense this season, this line should find itself in a better situation as well. I stress "should" because we still don't really know what type of benefits this new Tim Lester scheme brings. Watch the tackle spot this spring and summer, since (as mentioned) it will be a point of emphasis and potential weakness if no one can catch on quickly.
Who's the "player(s) to watch" coming out of spring ball?
If Trudo was at full-strength, would be him at center. Instead, the conversation's likely to revolve around who steps up at the tackle spots. We know Foy's had some trouble staying on the field at times during his career. And while the situations they were put in weren't ideal last year, there are still a lot of questions about whether Michael Lasker or Jamar McGloster can be starting tackles. So those are things to watch, even if not in a "oooh, wow, look at that!" kind of way.
So yeah, this should be interesting. Are there any favorites of the comment section, in terms of who we'd prefer to start? And what we think of Trudo's move to center and injury? Share your thoughts below.