Syracuse Orange football had great success in the early part of last season, including a vastly improved offense under new coordinator Robert Anae. While Dr. Bob took off for Raleigh, his protégé Jason Beck is here to stay - and so is the new system the two pioneered in 2022.
It’s made up of three critical components, each of which the Orange have locked up for the foreseeable future...
#1: The Mobile Quarterback
We’re entering the final year of the Garrett Shrader era in Syracuse. 2022 saw Shrader nearly double his passing yards from the previous year, and he finished with over 3,000 all-purpose yards and 26 total touchdowns to just seven interceptions. It was the first step toward transforming the Orange attack into a pass heavy one.
While the air-raid meant that Garrett wasn’t on the run as much as 2021, his legs still allow him to take off when needed, throw on the move, and execute designed run plays with precision. That’s something that won’t go away under Beck.
After spring camp, SU reinforced their faith that an elusive field general was the ideal long-term choice. Justin Lamson elected to transfer out to Stanford, and in his place came Braden Davis from South Carolina.
Lamson’s arm was impressive to watch, but he lacked the scrambling ability of Shrader and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson. On the other hand, Davis fit that mold well, and he found himself accepting an Orange scholarship shortly after the spot opened.
3-star Class of 2024 prospect Brendan Zurbrugg (Over 2k passing, 800 rushing yards as high school junior) also verbally committed this past weekend, further solidifying the future QB room.
#2: The Dual-Threat Running Back
Sean Tucker provided consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the most impressive display from the Orange backfield since the turn of the century. Alas, he’s gone to pursue his NFL dreams with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Succeeding him as the bell-cow back is LeQuint Allen, who showed solid promise with his performance in the Pinstripe Bowl. It wasn’t just his 15 touches for nearly 100 yards that drew fans’ attention, as he also had a team-high 11 catches for 60 yards.
The lesser-appreciated aspect of Tucker’s game was his pass catching ability. While not his main skill, Sean still totaled over 500 receiving yards between his last two seasons in Orange.
The ceiling may be higher for Allen, who said in training camp that he wants to break the receiving record for a running back (Ed. note: 39 by Duane Kinnon in 1989). While that’s certainly ambitious, his high usage as a redzone target in spring scrimmages indicates he’ll have the chance to show off his hands this fall.
#3: The Hybrid Receiver
The final piece of the puzzle is a receiver who can be counted on in a do-or-die moment, no matter where he’s lined up on the field.
Oronde Gadsden excelled as a combo WR/TE last year, racking up nearly a thousand receiving yards in a remarkable first full season. While listed as a Tight End on the Orange website, he saw more snaps between the slot and outside over the course of the season.
He took reps as an X, Y, and Z receiver throughout spring camp, so count on Gadsden to remain a weapon on offense. And if he replicates his success and decides to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft, there’s someone on the way who could step right in.
Class of 2024 4-star recruit Jamie Tremble has a very similar skillset. He said that Syracuse “felt like home” right after his official visit - when his player guide was none other than O.G.
Put all that together, and there’s genuine optimism for the offense to continue its turnaround.