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Syracuse Football: Will Orange Fall Short of a 1,000-Yard Rusher for Fourth Straight Year?

A history of successful running backs doesn't guarantee these things, you know...

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

When Syracuse Orange football spring practices were starting, we asked if SU could return to 1,000-yard rushers. With ESPN's ACC Blog listing out potential 1,000-yard rushers for the conference, we ask a similar question yet again:

Is Syracuse doomed to a fourth straight season without a running back accumulating 1,000 yards?

ESPN's Andrea Adelson listed 12 players on 10 different teams, but none of them played for the Orange. You could understand why given the fact that no player accumulated more than 607 yards on the ground for SU last year. But beyond that, it would stand to reason that the team's leading rusher, Jordan Fredericks, could increase that figure with more carries (created by more plays per game). Additionally, Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal stand out as potential players to hit the mark -- but maybe that's the issue. There are too many options between those three and Eric Dungey (among others). So while they're able to increase productivity as a group, no individual will carry the load enough to hit the 1K mark.

For reference, Dino Babers's previous offense at Bowling Green featured one 1,000-yard rusher last year. Senior Travis Greene managed 1,299 yards in 14 games, though junior Fred Coppel wasn't lightyears away from the mark either at 825 yards himself. In 2014, however, neither player hit 1,000 yards. Greene would close with 949 in 14 games.

This offense, as you figured, likes to pass.

But they also like to run... they just spread the love.

In 2014, Bowling Green had 556 rushing attempts, good for 39th in the country. They followed that up with 542 in 2015, jumping slightly to 36th overall. Rushing consolidated itself to two primary ball carriers (Greene and Coppel) by year two, but was well spread out in year one. Babers, likely, was feeling out the personnel he had in 2014, an then consolidating in 2015. It would stand to reason we see something similar this fall for Syracuse.


So to answer the original question of whether the 1,000-yard rusher drought continues, I'd say it's likely. Still, the Orange can find themselves a quality rushing attack-by-committee this fall, then consolidate carries for 2017. There are a lot of quality pieces on this roster who can be plugged into multiple roles. Once Babers figures out who goes where, he'll have no problem utilizing them in ways that best serve the team's productivity.

Plus, honestly, if you have there players that rush for 750-800ish yards, that's really better than one guy standing head-and-shoulders above everyone with more than 1,000 anyway, right?