Prince-Tyson Gulley is in fact out for the season, and the Orange may be forced to remove the redshirt of Adonis Ameen-Moore. After the bizarre “mistake” by the athletic department last week, Doug Marrone admitted Monday that Syracuse will indeed be without its number two tailback – just as the original game notes stated. Gulley’s absence leaves SU with little depth and zero experience behind Antwon Bailey at running back.
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This may force Marrone to lift the redshirt of freshman Ameen-Moore to provide a little punch out of the backfield. The Orange have been hesitant to go to the freshman so far this season, but Marrone may be forced to take another look. When asked about his running back situation Monday, The Dougie responded:
“We’re going to play those players because if, God forbid, something happens to Antwon, now everything is increased. As coaches, we always want to be ready in developing the players behind him. You don’t want to change your demeanor all of a sudden with an injury. You want to be the same way all the way through, so for us we have to get those players involved in the system and you’ll see all of those players involved in the game plan. Now, whether we call those plays that they’re involved with, but they’ll get snaps at tailback and go.”
The Orange had its best rushing game of the season two weeks ago against Toledo, when Gulley added 70 yards to Bailey’s 118 in a two-back attack. But SU is now going to have to search for another number two back, especially because the starter stands at a mere 5’7, 201 lbs. Bailey has already been carrying a heavier load than the Orange would like, and now Marrone must find a replacement for the next person to take some of the burden off Bailey’s diminutive shoulders.
Redshirt freshman Jerome Smith got the first shot at stepping into the number two role, but came up small against Rutgers, carrying three times for just six yards. Marrone may have no choice but to put Ameen-Moore on the field. Smith has proven nothing, and it would be unfair to expect Bailey to continue a 25-plus carry per game load for the rest of the year without wearing down.
The 5’10, 244 lbs. freshman could turn out to be the perfect complement to Bailey, taking some of the between-the-tackles carries and thus reducing some of the physical grind on the starter. Ameen-Moore came to Syracuse with a reputation as a tough physical runner. His ESPN scouting report opens, “Ameen-Moore is simply a load of a running back. He is built low to the ground with great bulk and thickness.”
It’s easy to see why Marrone would like to keep Ameen-Moore’s redshirt option open and extend his career in Orange by an extra season. But Syracuse needs a number two tailback for the rest of this season and may have to mortgage a bit of the future to get him on the field.
Posted: Steve Neikam