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When Will Sean Tucker Break Out?

Syracuse goes for its first 3-0 start since 2018 on Saturday in the Dome against Purdue, another good test for a team that has passed its first two with ease. Sportsbooks have been adjusting lines all week, and the game truly is a “pick ‘em” in some places with varying spreads from Purdue being favored by a point to favoring SU the other way around.

The Boilermakers are a well-coached, fundamental football team that is personified by their head coach, Jeff Brohm. He just led Purdue to its first 9-win season in 2021 since the early 2000s. It’s the start of a two-year home-and-home series between the two teams, as the Orange travel to West Lafayette next season. 

But, focusing on Saturday, and that focus should be Sean Tucker. The third-year running back has had a good start to the season, but as he’s put it himself, it hasn’t been exactly what he’s looking for in terms of individual production. The Orange have gotten two wins, but the numbers we saw from the Maryland native last season haven’t shown up in 2022 so far.

A lot of that has to do with Garrett Shrader. With the Orange’s new and improved passing game under offensive coordinator Robert Anae, Shrader has been magnificent. This, in turn, has limited Tucker’s touches because of how well the passing game is going.

Another factor in this is that because of Shrader’s struggles last year, teams are able to stack the box against the Orange and force them to throw because they know what kind of ability Tucker has on the ground. So, if Shrader keeps burning teams through the air, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more lanes open up for Tucker.

But, that doesn’t mean Tucker’s numbers are bad or he isn’t involved in the offense. He’s carried the ball 48 times through two games for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He only carried the ball 38 times over the first two games in 2021. But, Tucker is worried about efficiency and expects more out of himself than almost four and a half yards per carry. His standards are very high.

But, Tucker is becoming much more of a part of the passing game, as he’s caught a team-leading ten passes for a team-leading 101 yards and a touchdown so far. That’s pretty good for a running back. Albeit, a lot of those yards came on his screen-pass against Louisville which was a glorified running play, he still had to catch and run for 50+ yards.

Overall, Tucker is not missing, but the big-time games we became so accustomed to seeing over the past couple of years haven’t been there yet in 2022. There have been flashes, like that long touchdown, but not a game where he is unstoppable. If that happens against Purdue this weekend, the Orange have a very good chance of winning, and you can be sure Tucker will be pleased with his performance on Twitter after the game if he plays well and the Orange win.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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