Grinding it Out: McFarlane, Morris II Are Next Wave of Syracuse Running Backs

Syracuse freshmen running backs Devante McFarlane and George Morris II have worked hard this season.

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via Syracuse Media

As the season winds down, the Orange has turned to freshmen Devante McFarlane and George Morris II for more carries. Both have been effective with McFarlane averaging nearly seven yards per carry and Morris averaging over four yards per carry. Each has shown burst of speeds that Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley don’t show as often.

Morris has broken through the logjam in the backfield and has shown just how productive he can be. It started two weeks ago when PTG left the win over Maryland with an injury.  GMII was able to step in and fill the void. On one drive alone Morris had three carries totaling 42 yards and helped the Orange get inside the Maryland 35-yard line before Jerome Smith fumbled. After that drive, Morris was not as effective, and though no running back will typically average nearly 15 yards per carry in a game, he still got the job done in place of Gulley. Last week, Morris was given the most carries of any Syracuse player. Morris had 15 more carries than Smith and Gulley combined. This could have been a matter of circumstance, where Coach Shafer took his starters out of the game, but he still got the carries and put in the work against a very good Florida State defense, even if it was the second-string Florida State team.

McFarlane, on the other hand, really came on strong last weekend against Florida State. He was the leading rusher for the Orange with 81 yards—for comparison, that’s 80 more than Smith and Gulley combined. McFarlane showed that he could run hard through a defense. He also had a few impact runs against Clemson when he totaled nearly 100 yards on the ground, though much of the yardage came on a 56-yard fake punt.

Ofcourse, that’s not to say that, after one half against Florida State, Morris and McFarlane should get carries ahead of Gulley and Smith. However, it should show that if the starters get hurt or are ineffective, GMII and McFarlane are viable options. Another factor for the Orange is how important both freshmen will be next season. Gulley is a senior and Jerome Smith is a redshirt junior. Gulley is guaranteed to leave after the year, and if Smith finishes with strong performances against Pitt and Boston College, and in a possible bowl, he could leave for the NFL. Even if Smith stays, the Orange will need GMII or McFarlane to step into the role as the second running back. By putting together strong performances against Florida State, and other games throughout the year, both freshmen running backs have shown they can be the second option if the situation presents itself.

The backfield is key for the Orange, and Coach McDonald will be able to keep feeding it.

Posted by: Seth Goldberg 

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6 Comments on this Post

  1. ATTENTION FIZZERS Get back to recruiting news.Who is close and who are going further away as primary targets.?This is where you excel. Get backto basics.

  2. I agree… We need to know the future since we know the present

  3. Recruiting: Looks like it is getting better. We need to close with a solid push at the finish…maybe with end up with a big time prospect that we were not expected to get….Like OL- Gardner…or DT- Holley. That would make my day!!!

  4. Freshmen McFarlane and Morris look like two solid RB players of the future so that position looks quite good regardless of whether Smith stays or leaves. Now how about a few BIGGIES for the OL & DL? I would sleep much better if we had a couple of those chaps as Bromley graduates as do a couple of other up front fellows

  5. OL is where I am most concerned. DL will fill. I get a vibe that things are not dead with Holley, even if they are on life support. Wayne Williams may help that, and even if not, Wayne is a big body. This ’14 class seems heavy on WR and DB. I am OK with that, as I agree it seems to be a need for our program. I still want to see Roberts get some OL classmates. JUCO seems to be the best option right now, as I don’t hear who in HS we are in on for the OL.

  6. zetabeta5

    Shafer was a defensive coach his whole career and so our recruiting class seems to sadly lacking in offensive linemen and overly heavy in linebackers and defensive backs….For a team designed to rely heavily on the run and with the “quarterback of the future”…Hunt….being a runner who can’t pass effectively, this seems not only confusing but self destructive..Perhaps Shafer believes he can pick up experienced big bodies out of the Juco ranks at the last minute…but…..?

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