Orange Fizz


Philips Growing Comfortable in New-Look SU Offense

As playing time increases, freshman continues to impress.

Antwon Bailey, Prince-Tyson Gulley, and Jerome Smith have been the strong offensive backs for Doug Marrone and Scott Shafer in the last three season, two of which Syracuse made and won a bowl game.

This year, the story has not quite been the same, even with Gulley set up as the top back. Shafer has given opportunities to freshmen to see what impact they could have on the team, since they are the future of the program. This includes freshmen like Ervin Philips.

Philips has not gotten many touches as a running back this season, but has shown early potential and success. Philips, who hails from West Haven, Conn., is the man returning kicks for the offense and has quickness and speed. If he has one thing to work on right now, it is his build. He is listed at 5’11” and not even 200 pounds, but more build and strength will help him develop into a tough, physical back who can pick up extra yardage next year or in the future. Right now, he’s trying to get a feel for things.

“Each week the coaches just give me an opportunity to have a bigger role,” Philips said. “Whether it’s catching the ball out of the backfield or just getting us the first down that we need, I just try to do the best I can.”

The red zone offense has been nearly abysmal thus far, especially passing the ball. Terrel Hunt brought his speed to the table in the red zone, showing his ability to score himself without using his receivers. Since his injury against Louisville, freshman AJ Long has been the man to step up and excel. He has a connection with freshman Steve Ishmael, and it is a sign that the passing game has improved. 

The Orange has set up the offense on some plays to have PTG as the receiver and another running back, such as Philips, line up as the running back.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable as the year goes on,” Philips said.

When on the field in different formations, Philips learns by trial and error, much like the rest of the underclassmen receiving playing time for the Orange. But, Philips learns the most from those he gets to spend a lot of time with, namely Gulley.

“I’ve taken a lot from them,” Philips said. “I try to implement it in my game. Being behind Gulley, I learn a lot from him because when we travel and stay in hotels, we stay in the same room every week. He gives me tips, he helps me out a lot.”

The running back corp this year is not getting the job done. Shafer is a guy known to try different things with different players to see if anything gets better, and more positive results come. Maybe he does not get a ton of playing time, but Philips is showing positive signs early on in his collegiate career and the coaching staff is starting to see it.
 Posted:  Austin Pollack
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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