Closing out week two of spring football practice, the Syracuse Orange held their first scrimmage on Saturday. SU ran 129 plays during a spirited 90-minute session.
"We got 129 plays in 90 minutes. It's a tad slow, but we don't have the depth that we're going to have in the fall," SU Coach Dino Babers said. "I thought the way they went after it, the sounds you were hearing during the scrimmage, it sounded like a football game and that's good to hear the first time out."
As is typical, Babers always wants to push the tempo faster, but he’s realistic about depth here. With a limited number of wide receivers available this spring, just a handful of running backs, and four defensive tackles (among other positional shortages), you can’t expect to be at full tempo right now.
One of the more encouraging signs for Syracuse was the defense’s apparent improvement. It’s a scrimmage, sure. But in last year’s spring game, the defense looked lost at times in the Tampa-2 scheme. on Saturday, they forced two safeties and two turnovers to star the scrimmage. Scoop Bradshaw and Kendall Coleman tallied the turnovers (an interception and a fumble recovery, respectively).
Kielan Whitner and Chris Fredrick also had interceptions on the day. Coleman, Parris Bennett and Andrew Armstrong all recorded sacks.
The scrimmage wasn’t ALL defensively driven, however. Newly converted running back Tyrone Perkins had three touchdowns on the day, including two on the ground. Dontae Strickland also ran one in.
JUCO addition Ravian Pierce caught two touchdown passes, which could be a sign of some additional tight end involvement for 2017 (or at least a loose use of the term “tight end” by Babers this year). Ervin Philips, Moe Neal (two) and Steve Ishmael also caught touchdown passes on the day.
Given the position changes and the obvious questions around how the team would be able to move the ball through the air without Amba Etta-Tawo, it’s a great sign to see receiver options popping up all over the roster.
Syracuse has nine practices to go this spring, and then they’re “off” until July. The Orange spring game takes place on April 22 this year, and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra. (or if you’re in CNY, go to the game -- it’s free!)