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Syracuse football spring game roundtable

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What are we looking for in tonight’s scrimmage

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange football squad will be in action tonight in the Dome. If you’re watching in-person or on the ACC Network, we decided to give you an idea of what we’re looking forward to seeing tonight.

If you are attending, we’re going to plan to find room in Sections 109/110 starting at 6:30 so stop over and say hello.

Which position group are you looking forward to seeing in action tonight and why?

Kevin: I’m watching the wide receiver group. This offense needs people to step up and help the quarterbacks by making tough catches or gaining yards after the catch. Can they create space against an experienced secondary tonight?

Michael: My eyes will be on the quarterbacks. It’s no secret that they were an issue last season. New OC Robert Anae and certified QB-whisperer Jason Beck have only had a short time to get to work on their new projects, but I’d like to see what progress has been made. Will Garrett Shrader have a challenger?

Andy: The defensive line is the biggest question mark on this team due to a lack of depth and the names that moved on after last season, so pretty much everyone taking snaps is some kind of unknown. I think it’s far too early to say that anyone has a “lock” on a slot, so it will be intriguing to see who’s leading the position battles as of now, and what attributes and skills the coaching staff is prioritizing in their decision making process.

Steve: Do I really have to answer this? I’ll let everyone else look into those “skilled” positions, but we really do need a gauge as to what the hogs on the offensive line are doing this spring. While they should be improved, the way they’ve been snakebit these past few seasons it’s very worthwhile to know what the two deep looks like. We’ll get a look at the 2’s tonight, with Chris Bleich recovering from surgery and Kalan Ellis out with a sprained ankle.

Christian: The quarterbacks to me are still the most intriguing. All the improvement in the wide receivers room won’t mean anything if the guys tossing the ball can get the pigskin to them. I’ll also take a quick peek at the secondary just to see how creative ‘Cuse gets with the insane amount of depth and talent that Tony White, Nick Monroe and Chip West have at their disposal.

What offensive player(s) are you most excited to see tonight?

Kevin: I’ll take Oronde Gadsden II and Juwaun Price. Gadsden has the size and pedigree to be a player who emerges at WR so I’ll be watching him closely to see how he finishes blocks and reacts off the line. It would be great if Sean Tucker can have a productive 2022 season while also avoiding the type of workload that would hamper his pro career. If Price can give the Orange an effective 2nd running back it can allow Syracuse to keep Tucker fresh throughout the season.

Michael: The biggest question for me right now is “Who’s going to step up and be that top receiving option for the Orange?” I’d love to see Damien Alford, the supposed deep threat of the group, present his case by going one-on-one against either of the great corners and using his size to his advantage. Josh Hough came in with some potential before missing all of last season, so we’ll see if the RB shows whether or not he’s recovering well from the injury.

Andy: Devaughn Cooper is entering his 7th year of collegiate football, and showed flashes of utility last season. Will the old man of the receiving room be the de facto number one option out of the slot this season? What kind of presence and leadership is he bringing to a young positional unit?

Steve: It’s not a cop out to say Garrett Shrader right? Not for any reason but to see what his throwing mechanics look like and if the minimal amount of time he’s had with Anae and Jason Beck have done for how his downfield looks and consistent passing game.

Christian: Justin Lamson. I still like his game and he has a lot of potential to move past Villari in the depth chart. We really haven’t seen him in game action yet and even if it’s against the twos it’ll be a good barometer on his progress so far in the Orange system.

What defensive player(s) are you most excited to see tonight? (Note: since we don’t know the way this scrimmage will unfold we are leaving out special teams right now)

Kevin: Steve Linton’s move to the defensive line is one that intrigues me. Can he give Syracuse an effective edge rusher while still holding up against the run? Right now the defensive line is the biggest question mark so if he can make the transition it will be a huge help to the defense.

Michael: Duce Chestnut was electric in a lot of ways last season, and I’m eager to see how he developed in the offseason. He and Garrett Williams were already a dynamic DB duo last year, but they’ll need to be just as effective to square up against many of SU’s top opponents in the fall.

Andy: Leon Lowry got a few games of action last year, and has the size (6’4”, 225 lbs) to be a problem for opposing offenses in the middle of the field. We know Marlowe Max and Mikel Jones have linebacker positions locked in, but in the 3-3-5, there’s at least one more dude needed in there, and Lowry is one of the more intriguing options.

Steve: Terry Lockett has some big shoes to fill with McKinley Williams graduating and Curtis Harper entering the transfer portal. We’ll need someone to anchor that center of the line and this will be the first chance to see if Lockett is going to be that guy.

Christian: Alijah Clark is too good to keep off the field. I’m interested to see where Tony White decides to utilize his skillset. He’s set up to be a frighteningly good pairing with Duce in two years at cornerback, but he has the build to play somewhere in the secondary right now. Which safety position he plays should be interesting to monitor and dissect.

Those are our thoughts so share yours below and yes we’ll have a game thread later up so you can share observations during the scrimmage.