Midseason Review: Atwon Bailey

Though the offense has shown several inconsistencies in the first half of the season, one position has provided constant production.

With the exception of one game thus far in 2011, Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey has been the workhorse and pace-setter for the Orange offense.

The exception was against Rhode Island, when the Ram defense committed solely to stopping him and the SU running game, enabling quarterback Ryan Nassib to throw for a career-high 318 yards and three scores, completing nearly 80 percent of his passes on the way to a win.

Carrying the load

Prior to this season, Bailey had never carried the ball 20 times in a college game. Through the first six weeks, he has already done it four times – notching at least 111 yards each time he handled at least 20 handoffs. He has 553 yards and five touchdowns on the ground on 124 attempts, giving him 4.5 yards per carry. Bailey has factored into the passing game as well, especially late in games. The senior has 13 receptions for 90 yards.

In games in which the Landover, Marlyand product has not had 20 touches, SU is 1-1. The team is 3-1 when he does get his rightful amount of the offensive load, with the only loss coming against Rutgers when Bailey took the blame because of his book-end fumbles despite amassing 124 yards and a score on 23 carries.

Going forward

Bailey has proved to be willing and ready to shoulder a load he never has at this level. He has been able to make moves both in between the tackles and in the open field at just 190 pounds and a hair over 5-foot-6. Nassib has been as consistent, but the offensive line and wideouts have not. The question going forward is whether or not Bailey can continue to get 20-plus touches against the thick of the Big East competition when defenses know he is the primary weapon for SU's attack.

The good news is that he has proven healthy thus far, and he has two weeks to rest up before the showdown with No. 13 West Virginia on October 21. ‘Cuse also has a second bye week after the November 11 game vs. South Florida to provide relief for the home stretch.


Bailey is one yard from his career high for yards in a season, and he has already set a career-high in overall carries. With 13 more touches, he will set another career-high in overall chances. The five rushing scores is already a personal best, but he notched five total TDs last season so his next end zone trip will establish a new mark.

After the fumble-plagued game against Rutgers, Bailey has protected the ball over his last 28 touches.

Cuse Nation Top Stories