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Orange Optimism: Syracuse Hopes Backfield Jumpstarts Offense vs. CMU

media.philly.com

Syracuse had plenty of bad problems Friday night against Nova, but it also actually has a good problem as well.

Syracuse has depth at the running back position. We mentioned in the offseason how even with the departure of Jerome Smith, the Orange has a veteran in Prince-Tyson Gulley to step in. Add in Hunt’s legs, Devante McFarlane, George Morris III and Adonis Ameen-Moore, and George McDonald has to figure out how he is going to distribute carries and quarterback keepers to keep every running option productive and active.

A look back to Friday’s game shows Gulley will continue to be the go-to option. He clearly has breakaway speed, showing it off with a 65-yard touchdown. On the other hand, McFarlane and Morris did not produce at all with very limited carries. However, we shouldn’t look into their statistics too much (1 carry-4 yards and 5-for-0 yards, respectively) because of a limited sample size and what we have seen they are capable of in the past.

Hunt made a major mistake in Friday’s incident, but there is no denying he is also a major threat on the ground. Hunt rushed for 500 yards last season with 7 touchdowns. Unfortunately he was kicked out of a game in which is counterpart had a field day running the ball.

But perhaps the best surprise was the return of the “tank package” with Ameen-Moore. A throwback to the Marrone Era, Ameen-Moore showed he could still help the Orange in the red zone and near the goal line. He finished with a 2-yard touchdown and a big burst up the middle in overtime to set up a field goal. Ameen-Moore could be the difference this season between a touchdown and settling for a field goal.

The issue for McDonald will be to gauge which running option to use at a given time. It will be tempting to play the hot hand during the game, but not every running back’s skill set is designed for every situation.

It will be up to him to decide who is the running back that gives the Orange the best chance to pick up yards or touchdowns given the circumstance.

Posted: Zephan Mayell

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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