The Syracuse Orange football team is still conducting strength and conditioning in preparation for the upcoming spring practices. This is a good time to look at some position battles we’ll be watching when those practices begin next month.
Today we start on the offense.
Maybe it’s still Garrett Shrader’s job to lose, but for the first time in years the Orange have two quarterbacks seriously pushing the incumbent. How will Shrader’s absence impact the battle? Carlos Del Rio-Wilson made one start last year and while it didn’t go well, he flashed some arm strength against Notre Dame. Justin Lamson impressed in last year’s spring game when he ran with the starters and he should be recovered from injury when practice starts later this month.
Will either of them offer something that new OC Jason Beck feels unlocks more of his offense? They are going to get a lot of reps to impress as Shrader rehabs so this could be more interesting when camp begins in August. The spring game will be worth watching just to see how these guys perform with their chances to take reps with the starters.
Syracuse is replacing three starters from last year’s unit. I’ll leave the real detailed look to Steve, but with Joe More joining in time for spring I’m interested to see if he stays at right tackle or gets a shot at replacing Matthew Bergeron at left tackle.
Lysander Moeolo and J’Onre Reed arrive this summer so spring affords Josh Ilaoa and the Cruz Cousins more time to shine with the first unit. Can these or other young players stake their claim to a spot on the depth chart before more competition gets to the Cuse?
LeQuint Allen was impressive in the Pinstripe Bowl and he really showed his receiving ability. Juwaun Price was expected to spell Sean Tucker last year so we’ll see how he fits into the plans this year after Allen surpassed him. Behind them we can keep an eye out for Ike Daniels, a freshman with some impressive offers.
It’s unclear if Dino Babers will revert back to more of a time-share in the backfield this fall so we probably won’t know much until September.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Syracuse returns a lot at these positions so while starting jobs might not change, there are opportunities for snaps as practice begins. Isaiah Jones was a starter at the beginning of the season and his size could provide another big target on the outside. Jones, Damien Alford and Oronde Gadsen II as a group would give Syracuse’s passing game a Triple Towers look.
Trebor Pena could see more plays run for him like were hinted at in the bowl game- jet sweeps and swing passes to get him into space. Those plays were hampered by the poor field conditions, but inside the Dome especially he could be a playmaker the offense needs. Umari Hatcher and D’Marcus Adams had moments last year as deep threats and we have heard about the speed of Kendall Long and Donovan Brown so Beck and Babers will have options to explore.
The Orange mostly failed in trying to replicate Chris Elmore’s skill set last year. Do they continue to feature Max Mang and Wes Hoeh in the H-Back role? Will Steven Mahar and/or Dan Villari get more snaps due to their athleticism?
We won’t get a ton of practice access but once again the spring game will be of interest, not for any hints as to scheme, but to get a sense of which players are likely to enter the summer at the top of the depth chart.
What position battles are you interested in this spring?