After a double-digit win season in 2018, the hype train for the upcoming season in Syracuse is packed to the brim. The Orange are less than a month away from beginning their most-anticipated season in recent memory. If SU wants to continue its rise to national prominence, a few players are going to need to thrive.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll detail the five players that need to have healthy, productive seasons if the Orange are going to meet the rising outside expectations.
#2 C Airon Servais
Dino Babers has continuously compared this year’s training camp to baking a cake. When asked how quickly the the offensive line is baking, Babers gave a one-word answer. “Slowly,” he emphasized. Protecting first year starting quarterback Tommy DeVito is #1 on the list of concerns for the upcoming season. Babers called the O-line “the key to the season,” at the ACC media kickoff. The Orange lost both their tackles on the outside, Koda Martin and Cody Conway, plus left guard Evan Adams.
With all the shakeups in the trenches, it’s imperative that the few remaining veterans lead and perform. One of those veterans is Sam Heckel, who has patiently waited for his chance to be featured as a starting lineman at Syracuse. Unfortunately, Heckel was injured in training camp with no known timetable for a return. That leaves redshirt junior Airon Servais.
Why Servais’ production is crucial
With Heckel’s injury, Servais has moved to center, where he has started the last two seasons. Before the switch, Servais was set to fill the void at right tackle. It’s likely the Green Bay product will need to be a do-it-all lineman for the Orange this season. Wherever he’s most needed, he’ll play. The expectations are high for Servais, who has been named to the 2019 Athlon Preseason All-ACC Second Team.
Syracuse was much improved between the tackles last season with Servais’ leading the charge. The running game averaged nearly a half-yard more per rush, improving from 4.0 to 4.4 yards per carry in 2018. A strong inside run game can hide the blemishes on the outside of the O-line and open up defenses for DeVito’s perimeter targets. In the pass game, Servais will need to lead an effort to give DeVito the time he needs. If last season was any indication, he needs a lot of it. DeVito showed a penchant for holding the ball in the pocket in order to allow his deep threats to stretch the defense. It’s a high risk high reward tendency and the outcome will depend largely on Servais and the offensive line.
We’ll continue to unveil our top five throughout the month of August. Check back here on these days as we continue to get you ready for the much-anticipated 2019 football season. Also, make sure to check out our audio content on SoundCloud at Orange Fizz. We post a weekly show, podcasts and more.
August 1st: #5 Andre Cisco
August 12th: #2 Airon Servais
August 15th: #1