Spring football, for the Syracuse Orange, has always had some solid surprises with it. With January enrollees, injuries and an offseason of various states of conditioning, you can usually find a few diamonds in the rough that you weren’t expecting. This year, we have all of the above with the spring season.
Linebackers getting opportunities
There were a few question marks on the depth chart for the Orange going into this scrimmage. Chief among them would be how to replace outgoing seniors Kelan Whitner and Ryan Guthrie. It looks like returners Andrew Armstrong and Lakiem Williams got the start on the field, but there were a plethora of options at linebacker that saw time.
One of the first off the bench was Juan Wallace. The sophomore from IMG Academy made the most of his time, looking solid in the chances with the opportunities he got. Tyrell Richards, the redshirt sophomore who has split time at both defensive end and linebacker was near the top of the rotation as well. Overall, this will be a real strong contender for a position that will have some new blood in the rotation come fall camp.
Depth at Running Back
Syracuse’s first unit ran Moe Neal almost exclusively. He’ll be getting the lion’s share of the carries, but the backup running backs also put on a bit of a show. He’s also quite a known commodity. He’s been around for three years now and he’s the known starter.
Behind him, there’s a few options that we saw, both familiar and not so familiar. Jarveon Howard, Jawhar Jordan, Markenzie Pierre, and Otto Zaccardo all ended up with touches on the day from the backfield.
The bulk of the yards came on the back of senior walk-on Otto Zaccardo, who finished with six carries and 57 total yards. I’m not sure if we see him in the rotation anywhere come the fall, but he was carving the second defense up on the afternoon. Pierre also ended up with four carries on the day and a touchdown.
Howard played last year, making a name for himself as a short yardage back on the back half of the season. We may see him feature a little more this year as an evey down back. He carried the ball seven times for only 30 yards total, but showed some signs, including converting a draw on fourth down to keep a touchdown drive alive.
The big surprise was the burst of new January enrollee Jawhar Jordan. Jordan had some very shifty moves and changed direction well, especially making up for the second offensive line being blown apart on occasion. He had a 40+ yard scamper for a touchdown, and another close to 50 that was called back due to a hold call on the acting right tackle, Mike Clark. Overall, Jordan could add a nice dimension to the backfield he’s definitely more of a shifty option, but he should be able to make space for himself in the depth chart. I’ll be happy to see where he progresses as we near the season.
Offensive Line Play
If there was one unit that was decimated by injury this spring, it was the offensive line. What we saw today was no where near what out final five man will be in the fall. The first unit started with (left to right) Carlos Vettorello (Sophomore), Austin Chandler (R-Freshman), Aaron Servais (R-Junior), Evan Adams (R-Senior), and Anthony Red (Freshman). As you can see, a pretty diverse group. Probably starters were injured and we know there’s some JuCo blood to be injected to the unit in the fall.
That said, they overall looked the part. Vettorello and Red both looked extremely young at points, but there were times that they held their own against Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson, which is more than a lot of tackles can say. There’s a lot of promise from both. There’s a reason that Vettorello was the number two tackle on the depth chart last year. He definitely has a good bit of upside. We’ll see where things shape up as we move through the summer.
All in all, the Orange didn’t open up the playbook at all, but they showed enough of both sides of the ball to get some good solid information out of the players. While there isn’t an absolute ton of top level depth, there is a good bit of talent that can be molded through the offseason into something that will get the Orange faithful excited for next season.