The key to an Orange victory against the Bulls lies with their powerful back.
Syracuse RB Jerome Smith defines “Romeing” differently than most of us. He’s not drifting aimlessly on the football field, as in “roaming.” Nope, Jerome aka ‘Rome, describes it to The Fizz as straight up bowling over defenders on that Carrier Dome turf.
“It’s an angry game, you got to be mad to play this game. My goal right now is to make people pay. If you’re going to stop me from getting touchdowns, I’m going to make you pay.”
There is not a single player on the SU roster right now running harder than him. It’s not even close. The junior carried the ball 19 times for a career-high 133 yards on Friday against UConn. He ran possessed. Forget “Ahmad-ing.” If he continues to punish DB’s the rest of the season, get ready for a new hash tag, #OrangeNation.
“We might have to call it ‘Romeing,’ I like it. But, I just want to make people pay. As you heard I’m last on the team in touchdowns. It’s tough out there. Every yard is tough to get, those touchdowns are hard to come by.”
He has yet to score (four of his teammates have a rushing TD), but is tops in total rushing yards. Smith has piled up 488 yards and is averaging five yards per carry. It’s a testament to his field vision and sheer will considering he’s barely getting 14 carries a game. He has earned tough yardage, run through arm tackles, and not shied away from contact.
Smith has been running the last few weeks with total disregard for who’s in his path. You don’t usually see a tailback slamming his fist on the turf repeatedly in frustration after ripping off a 20-yard gain. But that’s been Jerome in a nutshell, waiting to break a big touchdown run all season.
His intensity is infectious. He’s shown a much quicker first step at the line of scrimmage, and is finding the holes. Smith has also been getting some great blocking up front and benefitting from the return of Justin Pugh. He is playing like the most determined and motivated back on the roster. Get him more carries.
Doug Marrone likes to split touches equally between Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley. But you have to go with what’s working right now. Smith should get at least 20-25 rushes today against USF. South Florida is 70th in the country against the run, giving up nearly 170 yards per game on the ground. You beat the Bulls by wearing down that defense, and slowing the game. Make turnover prone BJ Daniels play catch up and allow him to make mistakes.
Earlier in September, I felt PTG was the best runner on this team. But there’s just something about Smith’s game right now that he’s taking to the next level. It’s that extra adrenaline factor. The physicality of his game is second to none. And he looks as motivated as ever heading into this Saturday.
So put down your cell phone and quite roaming. Because you’ll see plenty of Romeing this weekend down in Tampa.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald