Orange Fizz


Who Should Replace Oronde Gadsden?

Oronde Gadsden

With Oronde Gadsden out for the season, Syracuse’s offense is in a pickle. The tight end picked up just shy of 1,000 receiving yards last year, but no other Orange pass catcher even broke the 500-yard plane. That means SU has to develop a new top option for Garrett Shrader. There are plenty of options, but eventually, it circles back to another non-WR.

Donovan Brown

Donovan Brown is one of the first receivers that ‘Cuse fans will point to. He leads the team with 206 yards on the season, so it’s logical to think that he can keep it up. 

While I expect Brown to have a very successful first year as a starter, his stats are relying a lot on one 86-yard touchdown against Western Michigan. Other than that, Brown hasn’t scored, and he’s struggled to get open in the red zone. The redshirt freshman has also had a tough time late in games. Brown didn’t make a single catch in the fourth quarter of the Purdue game.

Will Brown have a solid season? Yes. But will he be SU’s new lead receiver? No, because he hasn’t been there when it matters most: in the red zone and at the end of games.

Damien Alford

Damien Alford has similar strengths and weaknesses to Donovan Brown. Alford is the best deep threat on the Orange, with multiple touchdowns well over 50 yards in his career. Consistency has been an issue, though.

It seemed like this year would be different. In Syracuse’s win over Colgate, Alford caught a 13-yard touchdown, which was his first score under 45 yards in his career. However, the junior hasn’t scored since then. More importantly, Alford has struggled in the red zone and late in games, just like Brown. He didn’t make any catches within Purdue’s 20-yard line, and his last reception came in the second quarter.

SU’s true go-to option has to be able to provide when it matters most. Up until now, Alford hasn’t proven he can be that guy.

Isaiah Jones

Isaiah Jones wasn’t involved at all in the Purdue game. He did take an awkward fall and later played with a wrap on his leg, but Jones didn’t produce even before he was banged up. Maybe it was a fluke performance, but the redshirt junior still has a lot to prove before he becomes Shrader’s top pass-catcher.

Umari Hatcher

Umari Hatcher was targeted once in Syracuse’s win over Purdue. He let a pass go right through his fingers when he was wide-open with just the end zone ahead of him. That completely took Hatcher out of the game. He has some speed, but performances like that come from depth pieces, not reliable starters.

Tight Ends: Max Mang and Dan Villari

There was some great blocking done by SU tight ends Max Mang and Dan Villari, but that’s all tight ends not named Oronde Gadsden do in Syracuse’s system: block.

LeQuint Allen

All of that brings us back to the guy that should be the centerpiece of the Orange’s receiving core going forward: LeQuint Allen. Yes, he’s a running back, but that doesn’t matter. What made Oronde Gadsden so special was his ability to be Shrader’s safety blanket. He got open quick and got into position for an easy throw, but added yards after with his legs. Allen can do the same thing.

Allen first gave SU fans a glimpse of this in the Pinstripe Bowl last year, when he set a Syracuse bowl record of 11 receptions in one game. He’s kept it up, and led the Orange with six catches against the Boilermakers on Saturday. 

SU’s offensive line is in a tough spot. Starting right tackle David Wohlabaugh Jr. is out for the season, while rotational piece Joe More hasn’t played a snap yet. Garrett Shrader needs to get the ball out quick, and Allen is the best at helping him do that.

If Syracuse’s actual wide receivers step up their game, that’s great. If not, LeQuint Allen can still make sure Shrader and SU’s passing offense has a reliable safety valve.

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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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