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Syracuse football: what LeQuint Allen’s return means to the offense

What the presumptive starting running back’s return means for the Orange.

Wagner v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Optimism is in the air for Syracuse Orange football fans after projected starting running back LeQuint Allen dropped his lawsuit against Syracuse University on Wednesday, allowing the promising sophomore to return to the team in mid-August and suit up for the 2023 season.

Syracuse fans held their breath for nearly three weeks since we learned of the suspension.

Now that a settlement has been reached and there is a specific time for Allen’s return to the team, it’s back to business for the Orange with the start of practice approaching.

Here are the most notable implications for Allen’s official return to the team:

(Finally) putting this to bed

To get the messy part out of the way early, it’s good to see this resolved. Can’t say that any clearer.

As Steve, Christian and I discussed during the last episode of the Disloyal Idiots Podcast, the out of nowhere nature of this whole situation threw Syracuse fans, the media and practically everyone completely off. We don’t need to rehash everything from the start, but this was consequential to say the least.

Details aside, the Allen situation had the potential to loom closer and closer to the start of the season. With the offseason basically over, this was the story hanging over Allen’s playing career and how Syracuse would perform in the upcoming season. It would have been the main topic of discussion at ACC Media Days and into the start of camp.

Florida State v Syracuse Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Now we have a clear resolution. Allen is back and (knocking on wood as much as humanly possible), it means we can get back to talking about the product on the field.

Avoiding the “running back by committee” plan

The biggest question mark with Allen’s status in flux was not just what his future would hold, but who would replace him?

There were certainly plenty of intriguing options on the current roster to at least fill in part of what Allen was expected to do. However, all of them were either unproven or succeeded in some areas but lacked in others.

Allen’s return brings a sense of stability and hierarchy back to the team. Coach Dino Babers avoided the possibility of needing to play musical chairs at the running back spot.

It also allows players like Juwaun Price and some of the younger players to be in position to contribute in areas based on their strengths. This could impact not only the offense, but special teams as well.

To make an odd non-football comparison, having Allen back in the fold is similar to Judah Mintz being back with the men’s basketball team. Yes, you get a legit contributor back and ready to produce at an elite level. But, as in Allen’s case, you also avoid the rest of the rotation from having to carry above their weight or expected role. There isn’t a need to forcibly make that gamble anymore.

Floor and ceiling raiser

Syracuse built much of its offensive success the past two seasons around an established running game led by Sean Tucker, which eventually paved the way for growth from Shrader, Gadsden and the rest of the offense.

Tucker’s impact opened up the Orange’s offense in 2022. In the ACC, Syracuse finished fifth in total passing yards and seventh in points per game mainly because the threat on the ground helped the passing game.

Syracuse’s team offense by the numbers

Season Total yards per game Passing yards per game Rushing yards per game Points per game
Season Total yards per game Passing yards per game Rushing yards per game Points per game
2021 366.5 153 213.5 24.9
2022 375.1 231.9 143.2 27.7

Allen showed flashes of what he could do on the ground, but his greatest appeal might be as a pass catcher. A one-game sample size doesn’t sound the strongest, but look back to the Pinstripe Bowl versus Minnesota. Allen finished with 94 yards on 15 carries and caught 11 passes for 60 yards, the only time this past season that a player finished with at least 10 catches. He possesses the versatility to create space either as a runner or receiver.

Allen’s production will very much be part of the plan to hopefully improve Syracuse’s offense next season, and for good season. The Orange will need all the help possible if the program looks to return back to another bowl game.