There is finally hope around Syracuse football, but yesterday’s Spring Game was a reminder this team still has plenty of question marks and only a few sure things.
There are concerns regarding this team‚Äôs ability to finish in the redzone. The special teams struggled again with three missed field goals and several short punts by Shane Raupers. The defensive line is undersized on the interior and the linebacking corps is very inexperienced. Offensively both teams stalled near the goal line, with only one offensive touchdown scored in the game. The crowd was also smaller than anticipated, with announced attendance at just over 4,000 people.
- Check out The Fizz’s Spring Depth Chart
Thankfully a handful of established players and rookies shined, perhaps none more than Antwon Bailey.¬†The senior running back was sensational all day, posting 20 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown, along with 3 catches for 16 yards in the White Team‚Äôs 13-7 victory. Bailey stood out above the rest by showing great quickness, cutting and a desire for contact. Despite his size, Bailey delivered the blow several times throughout the game, due in part to his strong offseason workouts.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm definitely stronger, haven‚Äôt put on more weight but I‚Äôm stronger now and more flexible, things of that nature.‚Äù
Getting the ball to Bailey and a strong ground game is the clear focus on offense. Despite only three healthy safeties, there were very few deep throws by either quarterback. Instead, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett showed a primary dedication to the run.
‚ÄúWhen you have a guy like Antwon Bailey and Tyson Gulley and Steven Rene you just gotta get it in their hands because they‚Äôre electric players and I‚Äôm excited to get them the ball as many times as possible. We have a saying in our offense, when in doubt give the ball to a back.‚Äù
Other players who impressed on offense included Nick Provo (5 catches for 50 yards) and Dorian Graham (3 catches for 57). Ryan Nassib was efficient, but also threw a pick six that represented all the points for the Blue Team.
On the defensive side Chandler Jones, Dyshawn Davis and Kevyn Scott all stood out above the rest. Jones was constantly around the ball, with a sack and multiple quarterback pressures. The freshman Davis had a pair of tackles for a loss and made several strong plays on the ball. Scott made the biggest defensive play of the game, taking the Nassib screen pass back for a touchdown.
SU football stirred interest all spring, but the Spring Game reminded us depth is still not a quality of this team and success in 2011 will rest on the shoulders of the Orange stars.
Posted: Alex Plavin