Syracuse fans might be scrambling right now with Texas offensive line transfer Willie Tyler parting ways with the Orange program before even stepping foot on campus. For a while he seemed like just what SU needed to protect their signal caller, whoever that might be this season. Although one could argue that position is in question mainly because Tommy DeVito took five sacks per game last year behind the struggling pass protection, which limited him to four games due to injury.
While Tyler is a big loss, Syracuse will be fine without him though. SU actually got better in the trenches this offseason without doing anything. The only loss from the line is Qadir White to the transfer portal, but he was injured all of last year and never panned out from his four-star recruitment. Redshirt senior Airon Servais returns with his extra year of eligibility. Dakota Davis, who missed half of the 2020 slate with an injury, is back. Florida transfer Chris Bleich, who surprisingly did not receive an immediate eligibility waiver from the NCAA, will slide into a starting role. All of these inherited pieces will relieve Darius Tisdale of his starting job and utility man Chris Elmore of his efforts playing out of position on the offensive line.
That being said, the starting offensive line will look something like this:
Left tackle: Matthew Bergeron (Third-year So)
Left guard: Dakota Davis (RJr)
Center: Carlos Vettorello (RSo)
Right guard: Chris Bleich (RSo)
Right tackle: Airon Servais (RSr)
So, there’s no way the offensive line will be worse in 2021. Everyone is back, and they’re older, stronger, and potentially wiser with a new voice in their ears. With offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh leaving for a gig with Arizona State, the Orange made a great hire, bringing in Mike Schmidt. Schmidt spent eight seasons with the San Diego State offensive line, which yielded a ground game that ranked 15th nationally in rushing yards per carry (5.0), 15th in rushing yardage per game (216.9) and was tied for 21st in rushing touchdowns (201).
So, of course Willie Tyler’s pulled commitment hurts the Orange, but they should be just fine. The only problem is they’re one or two injuries away from being right back where they were last season, asking a fullback to start in the trenches and their quarterback to throw from his back.