The Syracuse Orange football team is outperforming preseason expectations this year in part due to a resurgent run game. While we expected Sean Tucker to improve upon 2020’s promising start to his career, no one saw this record-setting pace coming. And while we knew that Garrett Shrader could be a mobile threat, we didn’t necessarily foresee him picking up over 100 yards per game on the ground, too.
The dynamic rushing duo’s strong performance through eight games got us thinking: What’s the highest combined rushing total for two players in Syracuse history?
For starters, Tucker and Shrader have a combined 1,652 yards on the ground through the first two-thirds of the regular season. Here’s the top five single-season combined rushing totals for SU’s top two ball-carriers:
- Joe Morris & Bill Hurley (1979): 2,185 yards
- Floyd Little & Jim Nance (1964): 1,895 yards
- Larry Csonka & Floyd Little (1965): 1,860 yards
- Dee Brown & James Mungo (2000): 1,828 yards
- Larry Csonka & Floyd Little (1966): 1,823
Some things that stand out above: Csonka and Floyd made for quite the backfield. And while many try to make comparisons between Shrader and Eric Dungey, the more accurate line to draw would be to fellow quarterback Bill Hurley, who ran for 2,551 yards during his Syracuse career — including 813 during the 1979 season above. Hurley owns SU’s current records for single-season and career rushing yards by a QB, most carries by a quarterback (season and career) and the most 100-yard games (eight).
Impressively, Shrader’s knocking on the door of some of those marks already. His three 100-yard games put him one away from Hurley’s single-season record of four. His 592 yards on the ground are already just 221 yards short of Hurley’s mark, too. He’d also break Dungey’s record for rushing touchdowns by a QB with 15 if he keeps up the current pace — which would also put him just two behind Walter Reyes’s single-season record of 20 rushing TDs.
Right now, Tucker’s on pace for 1,590 yards (would be a single-season record) and Shrader’s looking at 888. That would shatter the record from the Morris/Hurley season above, and that’s before accounting for the fact that Shrader’s averaged far more yards per game as a starter. If we utilize that rate (about 110 yards per game) instead, he’s looking at something closer to 987 yards on the year.
Still four more games to go. And obviously we’d take wins over potential records. But with Syracuse currently eighth in the country with 242 rushing yards per game, a great ground attack and picking up wins (or at least being competitive) would seem to go hand-in-hand.