Last season, Syracuse only had one offensive lineman start every game at the same position. That was Matthew Bergeron, who suited up for all twelve games and anchored the left tackle spot, protecting Garrett Shrader (and Tommy DeVito’s) blind side(s). The Canadian has played in all 35 games, acting as a model of consistency as injuries and poor performances ravage the rest of the O-line. Last year, while fans worried whether Chris Bleich and Dakota Davis were healthy enough to suit up at the guard spots and whether Airon Servais or Carlos Vettorello would start at center (because the former was a turnstile at right tackle), Bergeron provided a sense of reassurance that the Orange QBs were protected.
When Shrader took over for DeVito, the run game became the entire focus of the SU offense, and Bergeron paved the way for both QB1 and the best running back in the ACC. From cuse.com: “Syracuse averaged four yards per carry off his [Bergeron’s] left tackle spot, which was the highest total in the ACC according to ESPN Advanced Stats.” The Orange running game was the best in the conference last year, and that is something that needs to be replicated.
Why Syracuse Needs Him
Check out this stat.
Yes, this is really bad. DeVito was under constant pressure in his time at SU. But Bergeron’s switch to left tackle began a positive change for the Orange O-Line. As a sophomore in 2020, when the unit was at its lowest point, Bergeron only allowed four sacks. Syracuse allowed 34 sacks in 2021, which still isn’t great, but was far from the worst in the ACC (UNC allowed Sam Howell to be sacked 49 times…). There is a slight upward trajectory here, and Bergeron is a main contributor.
Best Case Scenario
Bergeron starts every game at left tackle, becoming a sentinel for Garrett Shrader as the Orange passing offense finds it sea legs under new OC Robert Anae. Bergeron allows under five sacks on the season, even though he’ll face a gamut of lethal EDGE defenders in the ACC Atlantic, including Xavier Thomas and Myles Murphy from Clemson, Rondell Bothroyd from Wake Forest and Habbakuk Baldonado from Pitt. Bergeron shoots up NFL draft boards, and after his fourth season on the Hill, has the chance to go as a Day 3 NFL Draftee.
Worst Case Scenario
The injury bug hits Bergeron, and the offensive line falls apart. Although the center (either Carlos Vettorello or Josh Illoa at this point in time) will make all the protection and blocking calls, Bergeron’s presence alone as a veteran and an enforcer is extremely important. Not having the consistency on the left side ruins SU’s budding passing game, and Sean Tucker struggles without a battering ram in front of him.
Stay locked in for the rest of this list highlighting SU football‚Äôs top 10 most important players prior to the season opener on September 3rd.
Sunday, August 21st ‚Äì #10 Courtney Jackson
Monday, August 22nd ‚Äì #9 Marlowe Wax
Tuesday, August 23rd ‚Äì #8 Chris Elmore
Wednesday, August 24th ‚Äì #7 Duce Chestnut
Thursday, August 25th ‚Äì #6 Matthew Bergeron
Friday, August 26th ‚Äì #5?
Saturday, August 27th ‚Äì #4?
Sunday, August 28th ‚Äì #3?
Monday, August 29th ‚Äì #2?
Tuesday, August 30th ‚Äì #1?