Scouting Syracuse

Cuse Nation's Michael McAllister offers a full breakdown of Syracuse's roster heading into Saturday's matchup.

The Syracuse Orange and South Florida Bulls square off on Saturday. USF is looking to bounce back from a 1-3 start while ‘Cuse faces their first road test of the season. Here is a detailed scouting report of the Orange.

Scouting the Offense

The Syracuse offense is extremely multiple. They run some traditional power-I, some pro-style looks, triple option and west coast offense as well. The Orange like to set up their opponent by running a lot of counters later in the game based on plays they have set up early on. The rushing attack and play action of that is critical to their offensive success. Look for a variety of formations with personnel constantly lining up in different spots.

Projected Starters

QB Eric Dungey

RB DeVante McFarlane

HB Ervin Philips

WR Steve Ishmael

WR Brisly Estime

TE Josh Parris

LT Ivan Foy

LG Nick Robinson

C Jason Emerich

RG Rob Trudo

RT Omari Palmer

Key Players

QB Eric Dungey: Dungey is a playmaking, dual threat quarterback who makes smart decisions with the football, runs the triple option well and can make all of the throws. The Orange offense has been very good with him under center.

HB Ervin Philips: Maybe Syracuse’s most dynamic offensive weapon, Philips plays h-back in their system. He will line up in the slot, carry the ball as a traditional running back, take it on jet sweeps and be heavily involved in the passing attack. Philips is quick, elusive and a home run threat every time he touches the ball.

WR Steve Ishmael: Ishmael has made some big plays this season and is Syracuse’s top receiver. He has size, enough speed, runs crisp routes and catches everything thrown his way. Syracuse often targets him in intermediate and deep routes.


Syracuse’s offense has become pretty solid all around without any glaring weaknesses, especially with Dungey playing at a high level. The one issue they have had is the lack of a consistent receiving threat from the tight end position. While Josh Parris and Kendall Moore have been solid, neither have been game breaking players. Syracuse is also solid but not spectacular at both offensive tackle positions. Speed edge rushers can exploit some of their vulnerabilities.


This Syracuse offense has improved dramatically from just a year ago. Dungey looks to be the real deal and the quarterback of the future. Playmakers such as Ervin Philips, Steve Ishmael, Brisly Estime, Jordan Fredericks and others give them a young and talented nucleus.

Scouting the Defense

Syracuse uses a base 4-3 defense, but mixes up their looks frequently. They are masterful at disguising blitzes and bringing players from anywhere on the formation. Linebackers, corners and safeties all blitz at different times. Syracuse also utilizes an okie package, where a safety comes in for one of the linebackers. This is an aggressive, fast and physical defense.

Projected Starters

DE Ron Thompson

DT Kayton Samuels

DT Chris Slayton

DE Donnie Simmons

LB Marqez Hodge

MLB Zaire Franklin

LB Parris Bennett

CB Julian Whigham

S Rodney Williams

S Antwan Cordy

CB Corey Winfield

Key Players

DE Ron Thompson: Thompson is Syracuse’s best pure pass rusher. He is a force off the edge and can be very disruptive to opposing quarterbacks. He has been arguably Syracuse’s best defensive player in nearly every game this season and opposing teams have really struggled to block him. The strip sack is his specialty.

MLB Zaire Franklin: Franklin is the leader of the Orange defense. He calls the plays, calls out audibles and is a coach on the field. Not only that, but he has great instincts and is a solid run stuffer.

LB Parris Bennett: Bennett might be Syracuse’s best blitzer. He is at his best in the opponent’s backfield. Bennett is skilled at using his body to get by and around blockers. Syracuse should utilize him frequently in run blitzes against USF.


The Syracuse secondary has struggled in pass coverage all season. They have given up the big play somewhat frequently and are vulnerable against opposing aerial attacks. The front seven is very good, but the secondary needs to step up their play.


This is a very good Syracuse defense that prides itself on stopping the run, forcing teams into negative plays and creating turnover opportunities. They are aggressive, flock to the ball and have several players who can really hit.

Scouting the Special Teams

Projected Starters

K Cole Murphy

P Riley Dixon

H Riley Dixon

LS Matt Keller

PR Brisly Estime

KR Brisly Estime

Key Players

KR/PR Brisly Estime: Estime is a dangerous returner who is a threat for the big play any time he touches the ball. He is elusive in the open field, has big time speed and has a knack for finding return lanes.

P Riley Dixon: Arguably the best punter in the ACC, Dixon is skilled at pinning opponents inside their 20-yard line. Combine that with above average kicking power and the ability to make plays on fakes, Dixon has been very good through four games.

K Cole Murphy: Murphy is inconsistent to say the least. One minute he will drill a 40-plus yard field goal and the next he will miss a chip shot. He has shown the ability to be a reliable kicker, but has struggled thus far in 2015.

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