Scott Shafer‚Äôs two-deep depth chart was released at ACC Media Day¬†on Sunday, and it had a few surprises. It also presented a blueprint of how the Orange can go .500 or better in its new conference and make a bowl game. The Fizz breaks down how that can happen based on the position battles.
Shafer has Terrell Hunt listed as his number one quarterback, with John Kinder and Charley Loeb behind him . This is Hunt‚Äôs job to lose, and with¬†former Oklahoma signal caller Drew Allen also lurking behind¬†him, Shafer may play Terrell until he performs poorly then go with Allen. Shafer said at ACC Media Days that Hunt “is in the driver’s seat” right now under center.¬†
The backfield is set¬†with Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley, and George Morris II. The H-Back combo of Ashton Broyld and freshman Brisley Estime is an interesting one. It‚Äôs not likely Shafer would give Estime a major role in his first season considering how sparingly they have used Broyld early in his career. Then again, Shafer may not be built in the Doug Marrone mold. The WR crew is better than you‚Äôd expect. Jarrod West and Jeremiah Kobena return for key roles, and expect a breakout season for 6‚Äô3‚Äù 210 lb. Adrian Fleming. Keep in mind former Arkansas Razorback Quinta Funderburk, and redshirt freshman Alvin Cornelius will be competing for time as well when Syracuse¬†spreads it out on that Carrier Dome turf. Of the backs and receivers group, the ground attack is the strongest, but the wideouts have a good amount of depth that could surprise some folks. Under center is the biggest question.¬†
The offensive line loses¬†first round NFL draft pick Justin Pugh.¬†Center Macky McPherson says the team‚Äôs midseason turnaround last year was thanks in large part to #67 paving the way. RG Nick Robinson and LT Sean Hickey will be the biggest question marks. SU will need a handful of new, and young, faces to step up quickly in Omari Palmer and Kyle Knapp. Expect a solid presence on the interior of the line from Junior College transfer John Miller. Overall, this line is bigger and stronger than where they were a season ago, even without Pugh and Buffalo Bills bound Zach Chibane.
The front seven was going to be Syracuse‚Äôs biggest strength heading into this season before starting DE¬†Markus-Pierce Brewster and big reserve Davon Walls were kicked off the squad¬†due to burglary charges. This vaulted guys like Robert Welsh and Eric Crume into more significant roles, and even warranted the position switch of Ron Thompson to defensive end. Crume though has progressed each of his three years on the Hill and will be a powerful combo up the middle with Jay Bromley. John Raymon is finally back on the map, and this line can certainly compete with some of the best ground attacks in the conference.
The linebacking group has the all-stars of the defense. It will feature seniors Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis and ball hawk Cam Lynch. Add in JuCo transfers Luke Arciniega and Josh Kirkland, and the LB‚Äôs are the toughest group on the defense. It features size and experience, and Lynch has the ability to break out this season like senior Sriki Diabate did last year.
The secondary is also loaded with experience. Shafer has a comfortable three man rotation at the corner and safety positions, and won‚Äôt miss a beat in nickel or dime packages (Ritchy Desir or Wayne Morgan). Durell Eskridge and Julian Whigham try to replace Shamarko Thomas.
- Special Teams
Shafer has¬†Kobena¬†and Desir as his primary returners. These are his two most explosive special teamers, right behind is Morgan. The NYC native could become a viable option in the return game if Kobena goes down with an injury.
Because of some depth at important positions (RB and LB), and potential breakout stars at other positions SU has the potential for a 6+ win season despite playing in a much tougher conference. The road back to a bowl game starts in just under six weeks.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald