The best way to gauge how much improvement Doug Marrone has made on the Syracuse football program is the recent excitement surrounding spring football. Orange Nation had been resigned to a long, bleak offseason following hoops. Now, all eyes are on the Dougie‘s third season.
The SU defense garnered high marks for controlling the first scrimmage in Rochester, however the offense responded by looking in the most recent practice. On the first play from scrimmage Antwon Bailey busted off left tackle for 60 yards. That drive was easily capped off by a short Bailey touchdown. Marrone agreed the offense was much better this time:
‚ÄúThe offense came out and they lost the last scrimmage really, I mean the defense got¬†the best of them. I think it‚Äôs normal that the offense comes out and they‚Äôre ready to go. The defense is a little bit down they hit some plays early.‚Äù
The offensive fireworks continued just three plays after the Baily score when Nassib hit Alec Lemon on a slant across the middle. The wideout shed a tackle before bursting up the sideline and showing an explosion we haven‚Äôt seen from Lemon as he took it to the endzone. The defense had no time to take a breather though, on the very next play Prince-Tyson Gulley broke through the center of the line and sprinted for 55 yards before being chased down by Kevyn Scott. Jerome Smith eventually punched it in and the offensive momentum continued. It looked like the defense would take another punch when Dorian Graham was left open down the field. But Graham, who has had a case of the drops all spring, let an 80-yard touchdown pass slip right between his hands. It didn’t end up mattering however because Nassib later hit Marcus Sales with a beautiful deep ball over the middle reminiscent of the Pinstripe Bowl victory in December.
The defense eventually took control with impressive play from Phil Thomas, who had a few bonecrushing hits. Siriki Diabate also seemed to be around the ball on nearly every play he was in. The second and third units for the offense did struggle to move the ball as ¬†the Orange failed to get in the endzone for the rest of the day. Regardless of the late struggles the early burst showed this offense has hope for the future.¬†The defense has been the more polished unit for most of the spring so the offense hitting on all cylinders early was encouraging.
Other Practice Notes:
- The Fizz recently discussed the Groobers Effect on this team and that theme continued this week on the field. Immediately after practice SU revealed Cody Catalina, one of his recruits, is done in Orange due to a knee injury that kept him out last year.
- Dyshawn Davis left with an ankle issue, but had it taped up and returned.
- Nassib looked sharp, but John Kinder struggled with communication among his receivers and and also fumbled a snap.
- Practice ended with running back Jerome Smith being helped off the field. It appeared to be a head injury after taking a big hit at the line of scrimmage.
- The team live punted for the first time and unfortunately it wasn‚Äôt pretty. The¬†return of Shane Raupers was not sharp,¬†hitting a pair of punts under 30 yards and the unit garnering two false starts as well.
- Van Chew sat the whole scrimmage while still nursing an injury.
Posted: Alex Plavin