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Will Syracuse’s Offensive Line Improve this Season?

Last season Syracuse football was underwhelming. Just 5 wins after a 10-win, bowl winning season was a bad look for the Orange. The main problem with the team? The offensive line. In 2019, SU ranked 127th out of 130 teams in sacks allowed with 50, only edging out Miami, Akron, and Old Dominion. Tommy DeVito Was the most sacked quarterback in college football at 44. The starting right tackle quit in the middle of the season. It’s safe to say last year was a horror movie for the SU offensive line. Let’s take a look at what it will look like come the Fall.

Who’s Gone:

Sam Heckel: Heckel was only healthy for the opener against Liberty, he sat out the rest of the season with an injury to the upper body. He announced earlier this year that he was retiring from football. The Wisconsin native was a crucial part of the Camping World Bowl victory, as he started 14 games for the Orange in two years. His absence was a huge reason the offensive line struggled last year.

Evan Adams: Adams was incredibly reliable for the Orange. After redshirting his freshman season, the Scott Schafer recruit started 45 out of 49 games in his time with SU. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent.

Anderjas Duerig: It’s not surprising if this name doesn’t ring a bell, a backup for most of his career with SU, Duerig slotted in every now and again at guard and center. He missed a few games in 2019 due to injury and played most often on special teams.

Projected Starters:

Left Tackle: Airon Servais played the majority of the season filling in for the injured Heckel at center. Servais was quite easily the most talented player on the line, and it only makes sense to put the most talented player in the most valuable position. When Syracuse finally did that in the final games of the season, wins started to come. Tommy DeVito learned what it felt like to have time to throw the ball, this offense started to gel nicely. Too bad it too Ryan Alexander leaving and a Matthew Bergeron promotion for them to finally figure it out. Going into his senior year, Servais has the potential to be named All-ACC.

Left Guard: Patrick Davis has been a backup for the Orange his entire career. He’s logged 24 games at SU with 9 pancakes for his highlight reel. This season his name found the top of the spring depth chart.

Center: Carlos Vettorello has been the wild card of the SU offensive line. He superseded Ryan Alexander early in the year at left tackle where he started eight times. Then after Alexander left the team he shifted into the center role, allowing Servais to slide back out to the left edge. Vetterello has a ton of upside and should prove useful for SU.

Right Guard: Dakota Davis started all 12 games at right guard last season, and it won’t likely change unless Florida transfer Chris Bleich beats him out for the spot. 

Right Tackle: Matthew Bergeron was the poor freshman shoved into the limelight after Alexander relieved himself of his duties. Bergeron proved to be solid and showed potential of some serious talent. In the five games he started he flipped 20 pancakes. 

New Faces:

Chris Bleich: A transfer from Florida, Bleich lost his starting role after an injury. He then entered the transfer portal and is now headed to the salt city. Bleich applied for a waiver to play immediately if granted, he should be in the mix to start at guard, most likely shifting to the left side or slotting in on the right, which would slide Dakota Davis to the left.

In the 2020 recruiting cycle Syracuse added 3 offensive linemen. Josh Ilaoa, Garth Barclay, and a Mark Petry, a JUCO transfer. Petry has already enrolled in the school and was listed as the backup right tackle in the spring depth chart. Ilaoa and Barclay, both three stars will likely serve as backups for their freshman seasons if not redshirted. 

Overall: With Servais at the most important spot on the line and a little bit more experience in each one of these guys, this o-line will prove better than last season’s, even if that bar is pretty low. The offensive line is the key to a functioning offense, if this group of guys can be at least mediocre, the true potential of Tommy DeVito, Taj Harris, and Abdul Adams will be seen.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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