Week Two of Syracuse Orange football training camp is underway. Tuesday was the first practice of the spring to feature full pads, which means that we got a longer look at both sides of the ball playing hard and fast. The results were... mixed.
Before I get into the practice, there was one notable absence: RG Chris Bleich. The 6th-year lineman was a “scratch” according to an SU spokesperson, but I couldn’t get any details beyond that. Bleich was wearing a knee brace that looked larger than the ones the rest of the O-line had on last Thursday; it’s only speculation right now but we have to hope his injury history isn’t continuing here.
Observing the Orange:
Media were let into the building right at the end of goal-line drills, so I’m not sure how many chances Justin Lamson and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson each got. From what I did see, Trebor Pena scored twice, first on a pass from Lamson, then later on a jet sweep. Lamson also found LeQuint Allen for a 2-pt conversion.
That’s pretty much where any offensive success ended.
The team next worked on getting out of their own end zone, starting at the 2-yard line. Lamson was on the field first but converted only one first down. It wasn’t all his fault - D’Marcus Adams and Pena both had drops on the second set of downs - but he also struggled to lead his targets throughout the morning.
CDRW ended up with a safety by proximity (the play was blown dead to prevent contact), and Lamson came back out. Instead of the defense taking three downs to break into the end zone, this time it only took two, as Jeremiah Wilson read the play perfectly and made a tackle in the backfield.
After that, Coach Babers was heard ripping into his QBs while more drills were being set up on the other end of the field. He later said that the group was “a little rusty” and were better in the closed portion of practice.
While the offense was far from great, the defense shined bright. Wilson had a pick off Lamson in six-on-six, and redshirt freshman Gregory Delaine also took one out of the air. The defensive line generated considerable pressure on the pair of young QBs all morning.
Training Camp Trends:
- Isaiah Jones is quickly getting more reps, while Damien Alford is seeing the field less. Jones had a decent start last year (four catches, 60 yards and a TD in three games) before a season-ending injury.
- The right side of the O-line didn’t look great last week, and without Bleich, it was even worse. The lack of depth at the position (10 rostered players) could be a major concern, especially with the program’s high injury rate.
- I mentioned it a bit, but Lamson’s inability to lead his targets has cost him big time the last two practices. I don’t know what it is, considering he did a great job leading downfield targets in the 2022 spring game, but that has to be fixed asap.
- The punting unit does not look good either. One instance from this practice had a short kick nail one of his own guys in the back of the head. Lots of work to be done there.
Remarks to Remember:
Dino Babers on the relationship between players and coaches:
“Your team is only as good as your locker room leadership, and last year’s group was absolutely amazing. They did a fantastic job. And what we’re looking for now is, who’s going to fill those leadership voids? The young people that can bridge that communication with the coaches.”
Oronde Gadsden on the offensive strategy:
“Last year, it was our first year running (the Anae/Beck offense). We didn’t know what to expect. This year, I think we have a better feel for how the offense and all the players play.”
Damien Alford on switching to Number 5 and what it means to him:
“There’s been this whole process since I was a freshman. I know I wanted number 5, but Rhino had it. Then I had the season that I had, and Coach Babers gave me the blessing (after coming back).”
Carlos Del Rio-Wilson on promoted Offensive Coordinator Jason Beck:
“It’s been amazing to me. Coach Beck, he’s a great guy, a great coach. He definitely knows how to read defenses and he knows where to put certain players for certain plays on the offense. So I feel like we’re definitely gonna be rolling this year on offense.”