There were some standout performances behind the doom and gloom of Syracuse’s loss to a team in its third-ever FBS season. The Syracuse Orange won’t be taking many moral victories away from Saturday’s game, but some players are proving that they’ll be key contributors for the next few years.
There’s a real opportunity at Syracuse for players to step up and take the spotlight as dynamic or even half-decent performances stand out like a sore thumb among the issues that continuously plague the Orange. One player in particular continues to stand up as he earns his second player of the game award from me this season.
To say that the Syracuse running game has been transformed with Tucker as RB1 is a gross understatement. There’s an argument to be made that some people were going to wait to see if Tucker’s performance against Georgia Tech was a fluke. He didn’t get too many chances against Duke as he was limited later in the game due to an injury.
That being said, Tucker shined once again against Liberty. While he didn’t score any touchdowns, the freshman still rushed for 111 yards on 21 carries. That is only one less yard on three less carries compared to his breakout game against Georgia Tech. Any possible lingering thoughts of a fluke performance have probably subsided now.
What’s more important to note is how Tucker’s influence in the run game has affected the Syracuse offense as a whole. Many coaches, including Dino Babers, remark that the run game is key to opening up the passing game and it shows for the Orange in 2020. As Tucker continued to pound the ball down the field for more average yards than any other Syracuse running back managed this season, the passing numbers for Orange quarterbacks have steadily increased.
I don’t think it’s too far of a reach to say that Tucker is Syracuse’s best offensive player right now. His only competition for that title is Taj Harris, and Tucker could realistically battle Mikel Jones, Trill Williams, Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Andre Szmyt for the title of Syracuse’s best player right now. Not bad for a running back who could have been as low as sixth on the depth chart before the season started.
Honorable Mentions: Taj Harris, Anthony Queeley, Mikel Jones, Nolan Cooney
Now it’s your turn. Who was Syracuse’s player of the game against Liberty? Sound off in the comments below.