The Syracuse offensive line didn’t do the depleted running back room any favors in Saturday’s loss to North Carolina. SU ran for just 68 yards against UNC, and when Tommy DeVito is the team’s leading rusher Syracuse fans should sense something is wrong.
With starting left guard Dakota Davis on the shelf until October, and Florida transfer Chris Bleich ineligible, fullback Chris Elmore is tasked with guarding the interior on an offensive line that, when healthy, ranks among the worst in college football. But the Orange have to recognize their limited strengths.
Left tackle Airon Servais and right tackle Matthew Bergeron are easily the best the Orange have to offer up front. Their starting running back Jawhar Jordan is just 5’9”, 172 lbs. The redshirt freshman is not built to run up the middle. Then again, nobody is with this offensive line. It’s time the Orange start focussing the run game on what has a chance of working.
Jordan and the rest of the Orange tailbacks can also use every bit of deception they can get. Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert tried to integrate Jordan into the passing game, and was successful at times. The Farmingdale, NY native tallied 17 yards on three receptions. Gilbert has to convince opposing defenses to respect the SU backs as receivers if Syracuse wants to make the ground game as accessible as possible for the shorthanded running back room.
These are only adjustments that can be made. At the end of the day, the running game is broken beyond repair. With very limited protection and a lack of talent in the backfield, there is no formula for the Orange to run over ACC defenses.