Last season, just about everything that could go wrong for Syracuse, did go wrong as the Orange finished with a terrible 1-10 record. One of the main issues was the offensive line, which allowed an Atlantic Coast Conference high 38 sacks. Part of the issue was Tommy DeVito staying in the pocket too long, until he suffered an injury and Rex Culpepper stepped into the starting lineup.
But the poor O-line play forced head coach Dino Babers to adapt his offense, altering to quick passes to the sidelines, rather than the vertical offense that was a constant so far into his tenure. But with transfer Chris Bleich eligible to play next season, Syracuse should have depth that it lacked last season.
Besides the addition of Bleich, tackle Airon Servais will return for a redshirt senior season. With another year to gel, SU’s offensive line should take major steps next season. Besides Servais and Bleich, starters returning include center Carlos Vettorello, redshirt junior Dakota Davis, sophomore tackle Matthew Bergeron and right guard Darius Tisdale. The Orange will also add Texas transfer Willie Tyler, a six-foot-7, 330 pound guard.
Unlike other positions, the offensive line requires time working together in order to excel. Last season, Syracuse was riddled with injuries and forced to start fullback Chris Elmore at guard. If Davis can stay healthy, Syracuse could have an experienced, deep offensive line to compete within the ACC.
Unlike last season, the Orange should also have a solid two-deep rotation, which is paramount to establish a strong run game, and protect the quarterback.
While Bergeron struggled at times last season, he and Servais make up experienced, high-end tackles that should generally prevent edge rushers from reaching the quarterback. While the interior was a major weakness last season, it should take a step in the right direction.
Even with another year to improve, the offensive line could still be a weakness for SU next season. But it cannot be a dooming factor in games, as it was last season.