Without a consistent ground game from Jerome Smith and co. SU will not be nearly the team it wants to be.
When the Orange started 0-2 this season, Scott Shafer realized how important it was to get back to basics. The strength of the offense does not start with the new quarterbacks, but rather a slew of tough and tenacious running backs that showed up to play this weekend.
Many fans have wondered where the rushing threat has been thus far. It was almost non-existent against Penn State and Northwestern, mustering up a combined 204 yards in the first two games. While that would be a huge success for the Giants or Steelers, it was not nearly enough for the Orange. Shafer was not too concerned with the slow start, acknowledging the solid run defenses of both B1G teams. The story was different this weekend as SU ran all over the Seahawks for a whopping 236 yards and three touchdowns.
More impressive than just the total yardage was how many running backs were involved. Devante McFarlane scored his first career touchdown and George Morris was the 2nd leading rusher on the team. With an average of 6.2 yards in his nine carries, Morris continues to show his potential. GMII gives Shafer and Syracuse fans confidence in the running attack once Jerome Smith and PTG leave. Rome talked after the game about how important it was to let the younger guys get opportunities.
“I think we did a really good job in the beginning of the year giving them carries in games so when we got home they were used to being in front of a crowd, they were used to taking carries.”
Smith only had 61 rushing yards but two scores on the day. Even Adonis Ameen Moore got action when he is usually only used in the “Tank Package.”
Terrel Hunt and the aerial attack was the big story after the 54-0 massacre, but it was the running game that set up open receivers. Granted it was against Wagner, but a balanced offensive attack will prove vital in a few weeks. The Orange will need to create offensive flow similar to this game when it starts playing ACC schools. In fact, some think one reason why Allen has struggled has been because of a lack of a running game when he is under center. Unfortunately for Allen, Hunt seems to be responding more with his backs and receivers in the huddle than he is. That is why Shafer announced Monday than Terrel Hunt will start against Tulane, with Allen getting snaps later in game. When asked about if he thought he took the lead in the QB race after the Wagner game Hunt responded, “I’m not really worried about that. I just maximize on my opportunities and whatever the coach’s decision is that’s the coach’s. I’m more worried about the team than myself”.
With Tulane coming into the Dome, the running attack will have another opportunity to show what they are capable of. Smith still has not rushed for more than 73 yards in a game thus far and is due for a big offensive day, especially against a Conference USA school. Hunt will be relying on it to set the tone in his first career start this Saturday, because the best Syracuse offense is one that starts on the ground.
Posted: Zephan Mayell