Syracuse football continues to surprise after stealing a win from Purdue in the waning stages of a 32-29 contest on Saturday. SU already owns two wins over power five teams heading into week four and has a chance at one more against Virginia. The Orange are in pole position to begin their season 5-0, which not many thought they had the capability to do. However, if Syracuse wants to keep this hot start rolling, it needs to identify its go-to guy in the passing game. Dino Babers and Company may have found who that is this past weekend.
Unless you’ve been slumbering under a rock for the past couple days, the name Oronde Gadsden should be floating around your house. The sophomore receiver had a breakout game against Purdue. The NFL legacy shattered his career numbers with a team high six catches for 112 yards, and a pair of touchdowns including the game-winner. For perspective, the Florida native had recorded a combined six receptions totaling 81 yards and a score between SU’s opening two games of the year. Last season, the American Heritage product tallied just a pair of snags for two dozen yards.
Gadsden has proven that he can be a consistent contributor for this offense. The 6’5, 216 pound pass catcher is a precise route runner, can find open space anywhere on the field, and will make plays when given the chance. The Fort Lauderdale native has caught at least three passes in each game this season and really showcased his abilities against a very talented and experienced Purdue secondary.
Gadsden has to be the number one option going forward because Syracuse’s other targets have failed to show up on a week-to-week basis. DeVaughn Cooper was leading all wideouts and receptions and yards heading into Saturday. The seventh year senior reeled in one pass for eleven yards. Last season’s top receiver, Courtney Jackson, had a nice kick return to setup SU’s game-winning drive. However, the Pennsylvania native really hasn’t show much growth after a strong 2021 season. Isaiah Jones played well and scored his first career touchdown but he’s done for the year. Then there’s Damien Alford but he’s caught one pass this season.
Gadsden swapped positions from wide receiver to tight end in conjunction with Robert Anae’s new offense. This change has been a mutual benefit to the pass catchers game and this offense as a whole. The sophomore needs to become the focal point of the Syracuse passing game and be Garrett Shrader’s first look on any dropbacks. The Florida product is speedy and has that “it” factor with the ball in open space.
Before Saturday, we’d seen a very balanced receiving effort from Syracuse. In the Uconn game, more than ten players reeled in a pass from an SU quarterback. Babers said he would love it if one guy stepped up, and then another and have somebody emerge as the leader of the pack. Gadsden might be the king of the hill and he just showed he can handle that. Now does someone else step up and seize that WR2 spot?