A unit that was so effective last year loses lots of experience, so Jarrod West and company must step up.
The foundation of the Syracuse passing attack that was so potent last year has all moved on. With Ryan Nassib with the Giants, Alec Lemon hanging on with the Texans, and Marcus Sales recently cut by the Atlanta Falcons, the Orange is looking at options for Drew Allen, Terrell Hunt or maybe even both to throw to. Last season the trio of Nassib, Lemon and Sales combined for over 130 catches, nearly 2,000 yards and 15 TDs. Who will fill the void? In his first season calling the plays, George McDonald is searching for new faces for his quarterback(s) to throw to.
On the most recent depth chart released by Shafer there are four receivers listed; Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming, Christopher Clark and Jeremiah Kobena. We also know that John Kinder is moving to WR and there’s Arkansas transfer Quinta Funderburk. Ashton Broyld and Brisly Estime are targets as well, but they are at the H-Back position. The Orange learned this week that it will also be without Macauley Hill for the season after he suffered an undisclosed lower body injury. He also missed all of last year recovering from a torn ACL.
West is the one receiver who is truly a known entity. He caught 43 passes for 588 yards and a pair of scores. Kobena used his speed to beat corners off the line in the Spring Game, but has limited game experience at the receiver position – he caught just six passes last season. Funderburk is a former four-star recruit, but he has yet to play a game at the college level. Then there is Adrian Flemming who McDonald has praised about having a great training camp and a spring. But Flemming played in just five games last year and never touched the football. Christopher Clark played in 11 of the 13 games last season for the Orange, but only had 11 catches. Kinder showed athletic ability as a quarterback and has the size at 6-3 to play wide receiver, but nobody can really be sure how that transition will actually work out until Kinder faces game action.
The past two years, Kobena has been a kick returner for the Orange and was also there on the spring depth chart. However, in the latest depth chart, George Morris II is listed at that spot. Maybe this signals an increased role for Kobena in the offense? The scouting report on Funderburk is that he’s a big, strong receiver who can adjust to the ball in the air. Flemming is listed as the starter across from West. Clark is listed as a “key reserve” on the depth chart, but again he didn’t touch the ball much last year.
Overall, this group is very inexperienced outside of West. That may mean relying heavily on Beckett Wales, who returns at TE and grabbed 35 balls for nearly 400 yards last season. Whether the quarterback is Allen or Hunt, the offense will need to focus on the running game, a unit that really has a lot of depth. If the ground attack is good defenses will be forced to bring an extra safety into the box, allowing the receivers in one-on-one matchups on the outside to utilize their size. McDonald will need to be creative with the formations and packages to best utilize a green group of receivers and make the offense effective through the air as well.
Posted: Seth Goldberg