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Syracuse football: Game one grades vs Colgate

Class is back in session

NCAA Football: Colgate at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange football season is back in full swing. And that means our grades are back in full swing.

For those new here, I go through every position group and give a grade from A+ to F. Let us know what grades you’d assign in the comments below.

As you’d probably expect, the grades for the Colgate game are going to be good. That’s because this game was the equivalent of giving a multiplication table test on the first day of advanced calculus. That being said, some position groups didn’t fare as well as we hoped. Let’s go through them:

Quarterbacks: A-

The only gripe I have with the quarterbacks as a whole is that deep ball accuracy still seems to be an issue. That could come back to bite the Orange later in the season if opponents dare Syracuse QBs to air it out. Fortunately, these long throws weren’t as bad as last season and each QB looks like a better version of himself, which is what you want to see early on.

Garrett Sharder seems to have his legs underneath him, which helps his natural scrambling game. He also noticeably kept his eyes downfield when forced out of the pocket instead of tucking and running. That alone will keep defenses honest on broken plays. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson looked fine enough, and it was a shame that we didn’t get to see Braden Davis throw. Still a good day for this unit.

NCAA Football: Colgate at Syracuse

Running Backs: A

LeQuint Allen doesn’t look rusty at all after the events of this summer. He hit the holes in the line hard and didn’t have to show his horizontal running or receiving skills that he flashed at the Pinstripe Bowl. Ike Daniels also impressed against the Colgate backups with a good second wind and speed outside the tackles. The only issue is that Juwaun Price didn’t really impress in his few drives. He seemed to run into the offensive line more than finding holes. However, early indications seem to say that the Orange will be just fine without Sean Tucker.

Wide Receivers: A+

Going into this season, wide receiver was one of many groups that I was slightly worried about when it came to depth. After the first game of the season, it’s clear that those fears were greatly exaggerated. Each quarterback seemed to have a plethora of options on each passing play. Oronde Gadsden, Damien Alford and Isaiah Jones are the knowns. However, the young guns in Donovan Brown and Umari Hatcher impressed with settling against zone coverage and gaining yards after the catch. Hopefully this means Syracuse won’t have to rely on just Gadsden to carry the load in the receiving game.

Offensive Line: C

I’m worried.

First of all, nothing drives coaches crazier than penalties. I can only imagine what Dino Babers was thinking after his most experienced lineman, Chris Bleich, had two false starts against an FCS opponent at home. To add onto the worries, the pocket seemed to collapse fairly quickly on almost every play. Because of Shrader’s natural mobility, the Orange were lucky to only allow one sack. To be fair, this was with a couple of presumed starters injured in Kalan Ellis and Joe More. However, this was not a performance that inspired much hope for the rest of the year.

NCAA Football: Colgate at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line: A

The real test of this defensive line comes next week against a Western Michigan team who’s primary offense is running the ball. However, the first test this week passed with flying colors. One of the biggest reasons for Orange losses last season was a lack of rushing defense. Syracuse only allowed Colgate to gain 108 yards. TFLs for four defensive linemen help as well.

Linebackers: A+

The focal point of the 3-3-5 is back at it again. Rocky Long is allowing the linebackers to get into the backfield and the unit is taking that instruction and running with it. The pure athleticism of the linebackers seemed to overwhelm the Colgate offensive line at any moment. There’s a speed to each linebacker that makes them appear in the backfield quicker than the opponent can register that they’re there. As usual, the 3-3-5 is allowing the linebackers to flourish.

Defensive Backs: A


For those unaware of my excitement, allow me share my thoughts during Jeremiah Wilson’s pick six.

I hated Syracuse’s zone coverage defense. It was always wildly ineffective. Add on the fact that Syracuse DBs never seemed to press at the line of scrimmage and wide receivers seemed to always feel comfortable right at the snap. Thankfully, it seems that trend has been kicked to the curb with Rocky Long coming into the fold.

Truth be told, the DBs didn’t have that much to do, so it’s hard to get an accurate judge on the quality of the unit. A special shoutout goes to Alijah Clark, who seems ready to take every single ball carrier’s head off on every single play. He’ll be one to watch throughout the season.

Special Teams: C

D’Marcus Adams looked exceptional in his first couple of returns in place of the injured Trebor Pena, but it seemed like he got overconfident and didn’t do much during his last few returns. The biggest worry, once again, comes to penalties. Back-to-back penalties at one point gave Colgate a fresh set of downs, and Syracuse can’t get away with that against tougher competition.


Now it’s your turn. What are your grades for Syracuse’s first game of the season? Sound off in the comments below.