When we were talking about the Syracuse Orange’s struggling offense the other day, one bright spot was the play of redshirt junior wide receiver Trishton Jackson. We knew he was a potential talent after getting some brief glimpses of the Michigan State transfer in the bowl win over West Virginia (in which he caught three balls for 27 yards and a TD). But what we’ve seen this year — 33 catches for 499 yards and six touchdowns — has been the main thing keeping this offense afloat.
This week, the Daily Orange spoke to Jackson (and Dino Babers and Tommy DeVito) about his status as the team’s No. 1 receiver and his role in the offense, and while he’s encouraged by his own play so far, he’s also happy to point out where he can improve. Doing so is what solidifies him as a potential NFL prospect, and etches his name into Syracuse’s record books as well.
As mentioned the other day, he’s on pace for 998 receiving yards, 66 catches and 12 scores. Those numbers would give him top-10 single season totals for all three stats, and allow him to take his place among successful Babers receivers over the years — both at Syracuse and elsewhere.
Of course, where he may be most effective in the second half of the season is as the team’s chief decoy, utilized to distract opposing defenses away from other capable wideouts on the roster. Last year was perhaps the only season that Syracuse didn’t have a certifiable top receiving option under Babers, with Eric Dungey utilizing several players interchangeably. All of those guys, save Jamal Custis, are still on this roster. And if teams are willing to hone in on Jackson, it could open up new opportunities down the depth chart (much to the Orange’s and DeVito’s advantage).
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But, to Babers point, a defensive audible or double team on Jackson can change who is the No. 1 target on any play at any point. That doesn’t change the underlying truth: Syracuse’s passing game runs through Jackson. “A lot of the time that’s the matchup that we get,” DeVito said. “For some reason they like to have some guys covering him and we really like that matchup.”
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9. Syracuse: The last time the Orange lost 13 games or more in three consecutive seasons was the beginning of Jim Boeheim’s career at Syracuse—as a student. 2018–19 marked the Orange’s fifth straight season with as many losses. Although they’ve remained competitive in March, Boeheim’s teams have just a 46–44 record in ACC play since 2014.
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If Carey can show improvement in those two areas then his speed and athleticism could become plusses for the Orange’s fastbreak offense. “He’s got to eliminate mistakes and he’s got to make some shots,’’ Boeheim said. “His 15-footer is getting pretty good. He still is working on the 3-point line, but he’s making 15-footers consistently now. He’s got to be able to make plays and not turn the ball over. That’s what he’s working on now.’’
“I’m feeling good,” Sidibe said. “I’m really feeling good. It’s a process. It’s not going to go perfect. I’ve just got to fight through, you know? It’s already two years. At some point, I’ve got to fight through. … Sometimes it’s going to be sore. But it’s nothing like last year. Last year was painful and sore all the time. This is completely different.”
A breakdown of what’s wrong with Syracuse’s offensive line (Daily Orange)
But not all of Syracuse’s offensive-line issues are as simple as inexperience and playing against strong defensive fronts. The problems come down to a combination of noise, scheme and execution that reaches beyond just the offensive line. It’s unfair to just see the quarterback on the ground and only blame the big guys in front of him.
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