Even with all the positives from Syracuse’s 31-7 triumph over Louisville Saturday, it was very alarming how many Orange players were going down with injuries. Sean Tucker, Stefon Thompson, and Chris Elmore all had to leave the game. While Tucker was able to return, Thompson and Elmore both returned to the sidelines on crutches in street clothes. The devil put on his torture outfit this morning, as Dino Babers confirmed the worst for both players.
As Mr. Mister sang in 1985, Kyrie Eleison (lord have mercy).
It goes without saying that these are two huge blows to SU. Elmore even found his way onto The Fizz’s countdown of Syracuse’s most important players before the season started. But when you take a deep dive into the Orange’s roster as well as how they played against the Cardinals, just how concerning are they?
Let’s start with Thompson. Even without the Charlotte, NC native, SU’s linebacking corps is deep. Many consider Mikel Jones to be among the best linebackers in the ACC and Marlowe Wax had a heck of a game against Louisville with 10 total tackles. The depth at the linebacker position is strong enough to the point where Jones and Wax should be able to carry the load just fine, even without the services of Thompson.
Now let’s look at Elmore. When the utility man went down, the Orange were ahead 3-0. What happened the rest of the game? Syracuse outscored Louisville 28-7. Robert Anae has proven in the past, and he proved it Saturday, that he can effectively gameplan offensively. The loss of Elmore, though big, shouldn’t completely detriment how the offense runs, especially under someone like Anae.
While the losses hurt, there is no need whatsoever to push the panic button, especially when you consider the next stretch of the schedule. Uconn is Uconn, Purdue’s defense was bleh against Penn State, Virginia didn’t look great against FCS Richmond, Wagner is Wagner, and NC State nearly lost to East Carolina. You certainly can’t mark them down as wins right here and now, but it’s at least encouraging that the immediate road ahead isn’t too difficult.
Frankly, injuries suck. Whether it be someone on your team or the opposition going down, everyone hates to see it happen, and the injuries to Thompson and Elmore are no exception at all. And to be honest, Syracuse really can’t afford many more injuries. But considering how this roster is built, the schemes in play, and the road ahead, the Orange might just be OK.