clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What to watch for at Syracuse’s spring football game

Spring practice concludes this Saturday, with a scrimmage for the fans.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange’s spring football season reaches its conclusion on Saturday, April 22, with the annual Spring Showcase (spring game).

Dino Babers’s squad will start scrimmaging at 10 a.m. ET, but there’s plenty to do beforehand as well:

  • If you’ve registered already, your child age 7-12 can participate in this year’s alumni youth clinic, which starts at 8:25 a.m. -- though you’ll need to arrive at 7:30 for check-in. Your kid(s) will also get these sweet bags. The clinic wraps up at 9:25 a.m.
  • Former Orange stars Jay Bromley and #SHAMARKO Thomas will be signing autographs, so check that out after the game.
  • This year’s select-a-seat event starts at 9 a.m. for season ticket holders as well.
  • No inflatable jumpies, because there can only be so much joy in this world.
  • You can watch the game live on ACC Network Extra tomorrow if you (like me) are not in attendance.

More info on the day’s logistics are here

On top of all of that, however, you probably have some questions that need answering during the scrimmage. We asked and answered a few general ones yesterday in our roundtable. But here are a few more specific ones to dig into:

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Running game changes

Tyrone Perkins joins Dontae Strickland in this year’s backfield, which should help this team get some more size running the football (for now, anyway, until some bigger backs arrive this summer). Strickland and Moe Neal ran similar styles last year, but Perkins may be able to run more between the tackles. We’ll see if that change shows itself during the scrimmage at all.

Can this pass rush prove itself capable?

Last year, Syracuse only registered 16 sacks on the season. While we’d like to avoid seeing anyone tossing around the Orange QBs on Saturday, there’s obviously some anxiousness about the line’s ability to improve this spring. The lack of depth won’t help us see much during the scrimmage. But more ability to get around blocks would be a nice step in the right direction.

Antwan Cordy’s long-awaited return

We haven’t seen the Orange safety on the field since last year’s Louisville game (week two), so getting him back out there should be a highlight of this weekend’s proceedings. Cordy brings speed and physicality to the defensive backfield. While the youngsters performed well despite injuries last season, Cordy’s presence will likely help push everyone even further toward improvement.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Who are Eric Dungey’s early favorite targets

Last spring, it was obvious that Dungey was gaining a quick rapport with Amba Etta-Tawo, so keep an eye on who the junior quarterback looks for both near the line of scrimmage and out deep. Steve Ishmael looks to be the downfield option, but we thought that last year before Etta-Tawo’s emergence. Perhaps Jamal Custis makes some plays to excite us on Saturday?

Passing game changes

One additional safety valve for Dungey could be the tight end spot, which will be manned by JUCO transfer Ravian Pierce. Ari dug into why the team could end up leaning on Pierce a ton this year. Watch for how he’s used, versus the similarly-sized Custis and Adly Enoicy.

Nadarius Fagan announces his arrival (or not)

The freshman linebacker was one of the class of 2017’s top recruits, and his immersion in the defense during spring practice should only help accelerate his growth in the Tampa-2 scheme. Seeing him in action here for the first time should give us an idea of whether or not he’ll be a redshirt option this fall or if he’ll be diving right in on the two-deep depth chart.

Overall defensive performance

This will be key. Last year, the spring game showed a defense struggling to transition to a new system and getting burned up by the newly-minted up-tempo Orange attack. If the defense can show itself to be more at ease in coverage, and able to create pressure up front, that should be enough to put us at ease for the time being. Syracuse breaks in a whole lot of new players on defense this summer, so the learning curve will inevitably start all over again come July.

Any other things you’re looking out for at Syracuse’s spring scrimmage? Share your own “watch list” below.