Week after week, Syracuse fans and beat writers keep making the mistake of thinking they know the Orange football team. Before the season, we thought we knew Syracuse would be 3-1 going into ACC play. We thought we knew Middle Tennessee State would put up as much of a fight on the football field as it did on the basketball court. We also thought we knew Steve Ishmael would be the Orange’s No. 1 receiver this season after he led the wideouts in SU’s first four games, but Erv Philips put his name back into that conversation with his (now award-winning) performance Saturday.
Monday, the ACC named Philips its Receiver of the Week for the career-high 188 yards he put up against NC State. Philips’ 17 receptions set new SU and ACC records, and it was his first 100-yard receiving game of the season. He still has less 100-yard games in his career than Ishmael does this season, but the way Philips dominated in Syracuse’s offense in that one game was unlike anything Ishmael has done this season. Ishmael may be the one dubbed the new Amba Etta-Tawo, but it was Philips who put up the first real “Etta-Tawo-esque” stat line of the year. It broke records, won awards and wowed Syracuse fans (which may be the most impressive of the three).
Ishmael still has the advantage over Philips in the season standings, and he won’t be moving to the outside anytime soon to truly be the next Amba for Dino Babers’ offense. But defenses will account for the Syracuse passing game now that they’ve seen what the Orange can do, and heavier coverage deep and on Ishmael will give Philips more chances in the shorter field.
Amba Etta-Tawo left plenty of yards behind for Steve Ishmael and Erv Philips to share this season, and through five games the two receivers have shared the wealth well. Ishmael has 512 receiving yards to Philips’ 420. Syracuse has been asking who the Orange’s next No. 1 receiver will be since Etta-Tawo left the field last season, but at the moment it appears SU might have two Etta-Tawos at its disposal this season.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson