But as we know by now, the starters you begin the season with aren’t always the ones you end it with. Though unlike most seasons, Syracuse actually seems to have the backups to withstand a few injuries this time around.
Over on Syracuse.com, Stephen Bailey brought up the conversation of which backups are poised to have major impacts on the second half of SU’s season. He names nine — all of whom are worthwhile nods — but I’d trim the list to three, in particular: Taj Harris, Jarveon Howard and Trill Williams.
All three (true) freshmen have already seen extensive time despite their reserve status, and have impressed a ton so far. Beyond having the best name on the roster, Williams has also managed a special teams touchdown, an interception, nine tackles and two tackles for loss. Over the last few weeks, Harris has emerged as one of the team’s most consistent downfield receiving threats, and now has 10 grabs for 189 yards and a score. You can bet on him getting even more involved as the season wears on now that he’s gotten some early reps.
But the most impactful player of those three would seem likely to be Howard, whose powerful running style has given him a steady increase in touches that probably trends more toward what Dino Babers wants out of the ground game. He has 205 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, and he’d have an additional score if not for a fumble at the one-yard line. SU’s last two opponents have managed to shut down the run. Perhaps Howard getting the ball more fixes that concern.
More on that, plus the rest of your Syracuse-related links below:
“I think the depth has gotten better and it’s just going to keep getting better,” senior quarterback Eric Dungey said. “... I think everyone’s just itching to get in there. I think it’s a big thing. Everyone wants their turn. Nobody wants the person to go down in front of them, but I think everyone is ready for their number to be called.”
Those explosive runs are indicative of run-defense issues that reach beyond the front seven players. After breaking through the line of scrimmage, ball carriers have consistently beaten out of position safeties and slipped out of weak tackles. “When the ball breaks to the secondary,” head coach Dino Babers said after SU’s loss to Pittsburgh, “we need DBs and we need safeties to make tackles. Just get ‘em down. Just get ‘em down.”
2018 ACC Weekly Power Rankings: UNIFORM EDITION (From the Rumble Seat)
14. Syracuse: This was easy. Syracuse has worn a few different combos at home this year and, frankly, none of them are good. This white/orange/orange is probably the best of the bunch but it’s still easily the worst in the conference. I’m a fan of orange (more on that later) but doubling up on it is a lot. I’m really not a fan of the sleeves either, though it’s better here than on their other jerseys.
Nunn, who was Syracuse’s highest-rated pledge, is being recruited by Orange safeties coach Nick Monroe. He has visited Central New York three times since last April, per 247Sports.com. Without Nunn, SU’s class is ranked last in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The group includes three defensive backs in corners Adrian Cole and Garrett Williams as well as safety Dorian Hewett.
Here are four things UNC must do well to beat Syracuse on Saturday (Charlotte Observer)
Like UNC, Syracuse has struggled this season at stopping the run. Opposing teams average 180.14 yards per game rushing against Syracuse, which is 91st out of 130 teams in the country. Pitt took advantage. Led by senior running back Qadree Ollison, who had 192 yards, the Panthers ran for 265 yards as a team and three touchdowns.
UNC Football vs. Syracuse: Q&A with SB Nation’s Syracuse Blog (Tar Heel Blog)
Meet the musicians who perform the soundtrack for SU games (Daily Orange)
Why can’t Virginia basketball win in the postseason? (Streaking the Lawn)