The All-Big East Teams for football have been announced and some are skeptical about the selections. Syracuse was well represented with five 1st team players in Justin Pugh, Andrew Tiller, Chandler Jones, Nick Provo and Antwon Bailey. That’s a lot of accolades for a team that finished near the bottom of the league. Are the Orange players deserving?
Twitter was abuzz over the SU selections, including The Fizz’s Craig Hoffman, who vehemently disagreed with Bailey’s honor.
“That makes zero sense. 2 Offensive linemen on an awful line? No. Provo? Yes. Bailey? hell no. He accumulated numbers. Wasn’t good.”
This was certainly not how much of the staff felt about the running back. While Antwon didn’t take over many games like SU fans had hoped, he is well deserving of All Big East honors. The quarrel would be whether 1st team was too high.
When Bailey got carries Syracuse was at its best. In all six games with 20+ carries, he went over 100 yards rushing. That is production at its best. When given the chance Antwon responded. In the middle of the season he hit the century mark in four straight games, SU won three of those. While A-Train wasn’t the sole reason for those wins, he was key in controlling the tempo and momentum.
Now look at the pitiful five game losing streak to end the season. Bailey had only one game over 20 carries. His workload went down, SU relied on Ryan Nassib more, and the Orange didn’t win a game. This could have easily been added to the Fizz 5 of what went wrong this season. Antwon is one of the best (if not the best) playmaker on the team and SU went away from the ground when it needed him the most. If A-Train had more touches the season could’ve play out differently. Antwon is the home run hitter. As witnessed in the Wake Forest game, all it takes is him getting the edge and breaking loose in the open field to turn a game around.
Nathaniel Hackett poorly used Antwon all season. He could have been far more productive if the Orange got him into space and used his strengths more. Bailey thrives in the open field. He usually makes the first guy miss when he gets some room. But instead of running Bailey outside the tackles or using him on screens, the Orange sent him right up the gut too often where he was gobbled up by big defensive lineman.
Bailey was also not targeted enough as a pass catcher out of the backfield. His receptions somehow went down from last season even though this year he was the full-time feature back. That should not happen. He is SU’s all-time leader is receptions and receiving yards for a running back and SU didn’t give him enough opportunities as a pass catcher.
Bailey still put up great numbers: 1,051 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns to go along with 29 receptions for 200 yards and 1 TD.
Compare that to Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead who was named Big East offensive player of the year: 1,110 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 304 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns.
While A-Train didn’t hit paydirt as often, the rushing and receiving yards are very similar. As noted above, if Bailey was given more looks in the passing game his numbers might’ve exceeded Pead’s. No matter how you cut it, Antwon Bailey is an All-Big East player.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert
Photo credit: Daily Orange