Who will step up with the loss of WR Jeremiah Kobena? The speedster will be out for “the next couple of weeks,” SU Athletics announced this week. The blazing sophomore had surgery to repair what the athletic department is calling an “upper body injury.”
Kobena has blossomed into a reliable vertical threat in the absence of star Alec Lemon, starting out last year as a shifty kick returner. Through the first two games this year, JK has 101 yards on five catches and averages almost 20 yards per kick return. He had two touchdown receptions against Northwestern.
Given the ridiculously difficult schedule Syracuse has to handle, the timing for JK’s surgery may have been a case of choosing the least of many evils. Since Kobena was never removed from a game with a serious injury, it was probably a smaller one where he would eventually undergo this surgery. Granted, this could be an issue that was nagging before the season started.
It’s possible Kobena had a nagging pain or weakness and the coaches chose to have it operated on over the two easiest games of a grueling schedule. Kobena could end up missing the season for all we know, but for now, SU says its only short term. Here’s also hoping that it isn’t longer, because three weeks from now has Pitt coming to the Dome with the start of league play.
Now that Kobena is out, who steps up? Offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett is favoring experience saying he’s expecting Chris Clark to get the majority of Kobena’s reps. Alec Lemon also has a chance to step in. If both can step up, the Orange passing attack should be okay. Add Marcus Sales into the mix and how well Ryan Nassib has looked, and the passing game should keep rolling. But the loss of any weapons, and Kobena’s big threat ability, is a worrying sight if it’s long term.
We could also see Alvin Cornelius and Ben Lewis in bigger roles, especially when Hackett draws up 3 and 4 receiver sets. Both are freshmen and both are unproven, but little is proven about Marrone’s new west coast offense, now just two games old. Cornelius is a stoke in Marrone’s NYC recruiting fire, and he told The Fizz that the best in town were coming together at SU when he signed his NLI.
“You know in high school you get to use your talent and compete against other kids, but now we are going to work together and maybe make something happen for the city.”
With Kobena out, Cornelius might have his first shot at making something happen as a legit target for Nassib in the flats.