Preseason football camp for the Syracuse Orange has less than two weeks remaining, and entering its second-to-last week there's one big concern hovering around the program entering its season opener, Sept. 1, against visiting Northwestern-- the offense.
Despite entering the season with a offensive-minded head coach in Doug Marrone, a third-year starting quarterback in senior Ryan Nassib and an offensive line that returns three starters -- one being a Big East First-Team selection, Justin Pugh, who notably has missed preseason camp with a lower body injury -- the Orange's offense is struggling to find a rhythm.
"We’re not ready to play right now in game-like conditions," Syracuse University head coach Doug Marrone said Saturday following his team’s first formal scrimmage of the preseason. "Obviously, we need to make some vast improvement."
For the Orange, which managed five touchdowns but five interceptions during its scrimmage at Fort Drum, preseason has been a grind. So far, coach Marrone has pushed his squad maybe further than he ever has, and its obvious he's still not pleased with the results.
Because of that, Syracuse returned to practice Monday with its final double session of the year. The Orange will have one full practice Tuesday before another scrimmage Wednesday, which hopefully will showcase more fluidity.
With the preseason winding down, here's were the struggling offense stands now:
Quarterback, Ryan Nassib: Has relied on short to intermediate passes during preseason camp, a trend my Syracuse fans were hoping would end after last season's dink-and-dump showing. However, Nassib has all the tools and is expected to lead the Orange to the postseason in his final year.
- Running backs: Not one of the five tailbacks -- juniors Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, sophomore Adonis Ameen-Moore and freshmen George Morris and Ashton Broyld -- have separated themselves enough for SU to have a clear-cut No. 1 running back. Smith is listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, but if anyone of the handful of backs show progression in the next few weeks, the junior could be passed.
- Wide receivers: Senior Marcus Sales is expected to be Nassib's deep-play wide out, but there's been little of that during camp. Meanwhile, senior Alec Lemon, who last year set a SU record for receptions in a season, has been out with an injury, while sophomores Jarrod West and Jeremiah Kobena have been inconsistent. The biggest bright spot has been junior Adrian Flemming, but he suffered an leg/ankle injury during Saturday's scrimmage at Fort Drum.
Tight ends: It seems the "F" starting spot (a hybrid position) has been claimed by redshirt senior David Stevens; while the "Y" position (a traditional tight end spot) features a a battled between Beckett Wales and freshman Rob Thompson.
Offensive line: It has been a grind for this crew, which is trying to fill the shoes of its left tackle, Pugh, who will miss preseason camp and maybe the first week of the season with a shoulder injury. Pugh's replacement is expected to be junior Sean Hickey. Senior Lou Alexander is trying to hang onto the right tackle spot, while at right guard two redshirt freshmen Ivan Foy and Rob Trudo are battling it out. Meanwhile, returners Macky MacPherson (center) and Zach Chibane (left guard) are expected to both progress and carry the load while Pugh recovers.
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