The offense, quarterback and new LBs are all major questions heading into the offseason.
Although there won’t be another SU football game inside the Carrier Dome for another five months, the Spring Game provided Orange Nation a final glimpse into what to expect this fall. Terrel Hunt shined in his debut, Prince-Tyson Gulley erased his signature dreadlocks, and Scott Shafer enjoyed every moment with the Syracuse fans.
We take the Fizz Fam under the Fizz Microscope from Saturday. Here are the team’s biggest storylines in the words of the players that shined on Saturday.
- WR Jarrod West
“Being behind [Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales] last year, I wanted to be the best and I was mad that they had a lot of shine. I was always in the shadow of them, so I’m ready for the competition. It was fun to make a play and then come over to the sideline and [see Lemon saying] ‘I see you out there West.’ It’s been exciting.”
This is Jarrod’s offense. He has now become one of the senior leaders that will lead the unit on the gridiron. He spent an entire season watching Lemon and Ryan Nassib from a year ago, and knows what the offense is capable of. The confidence has rubbed off on the WR, and he believes he can match what Lemon did a season ago. West caught two TD’s on Saturday (granted against walk-on DB’s) and looked much quicker off the line. If his mind is in the right place, and with the right QB (Drew Allen, anyone?) there is no reason why West can’t hit 1,000 yards this fall.
- LB Josh Kirkland
“It’s definitely different from Kansas. The facilities are great, just eating is completely different. I get fed 3 or 4 meals per day and I get taken care of, so it’s been a great time, a lot of catering to me which is really nice.”
Man, does this kid have a motor. The brand new JuCo LB had a few blistering hits on Saturday. Even though SU Athletics only has him listed at 198 lbs (Butler Community College had him listed at 211, maybe that’s why SU is feeding him so much), his hits registered big collisions. His pursuit to the football looked terrific, and it really seems like he has already meshed with this team. He and Luke Arciniega will most likely be the first LB’s to get serious time behind Marquis Spruill, Dyshawn Davis and Cam Lynch. He told The Fizz his transition from Butler, one of the best JuCo programs in the nation with 5 national championships in the last 15 years, couldn’t have gone any smoother. His lone complaint: the Carrier Dome is kind of hot. We’ll see you in August, Josh.
- RB George Morris II
“I love working with [Prince] Tyson and Jerome [Smith]. They’re my brothers and like role models for me, they help me break things down and they teach me a lot. I love hanging with them on and off the field because we’re a tight nit group and we stick together no matter what even though it’s a competition at the end of the day, we’re there for each other.”
Let the record show it’s George Morris the second, not the third. Better to hash this out now because it’s a name you don’t want to botch this fall. Morris showed flashes of quickness to the outside, and told The Fizz he’s been working closely with the two seniors in front of him on the depth chart, Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley. He adds an extra flare to an already stacked backfield. With a first-year starting quarterback SU will lean on this trio in ’13.
- QB Charley Loeb
“I haven’t earned anything because I haven’t done a complete off-season with this new coaching staff. I don’t think I’ve earned 100% trust.”
What Loeb is basically saying is that if Nate Hackett was still around, he’d most likely have the reigns to the offense. Instead, he was stuck with the second team on Saturday, and Hunt was throwing 50 yard TD’s to Jarrod West. Granted, neither Loeb nor Jon Kinder have played particularly well this spring. But Hunt didn’t totally shine on Saturday. Two DB’s fell covering West on both of Hunt’s TD’s, and his tight delivery nearly led to a Julian Whigham interception. The QB battle is still very much open. That is, until Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen gets here. Any thoughts on the incoming former Sooner, Charley?
“I’m always trying to foster the atmosphere of competition, I’m always trying to get guys better, and that’s what [bringing in a fifth year senior QB] does. It doesn’t matter if some freshman is coming in from wherever or a fifth year senior or whoever, they’re going to want to put the best guy out there on the field so we can have the best product. That’s something that I understand happens in this business, that’s the way it goes.”
It will be a whole new ballgame this summer when the Texas native shows up. Loeb, Kinder and Hunt will push themselves to keep pace with Allen, and vice versa. All four will elevate each other’s games heading into this season. The jury’s still out, until the summer workouts begin.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald