Syracuse football looks to rebound from a disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2011 with some question marks on offense, so let's try to sort things out based on what we've seen thus far.
Dan Tortora: Nassib, the redshirt-senior, has had the experience, a big reason why I selected him to continue to lead the offense. Though senior Charley Loeb has looked comfortable in the pocket at camp and has made some good decisions, I do not believe that Loeb, junior John Kinder, or sophomore Terrel Hunt have done enough to oust Nassib from his starting role.
Mike McAllister: Nassib is the quarterback most ready to lead the Syracuse offense. He knows the playbook, has an accurate arm, and most importantly has Marrone's trust. If he can become more consistent with his deep ball, Nassib could be one of the best QBs in the Big East.
John Garcia Jr: It's Nassib, and it's never been as close as Doug Marrone publicly says it has. 2012 is Nassib's season to cement his ‘Cuse legacy and to find out if he is one of the better signal-callers in the history of the storied program.
Tortora: In an open competition, I am going with the new guy. Do not misunderstand me. I believe that juniors Smith and Gulley as well as sophomore Ameen-Moore have something to offer to this offense, but the question is who should get the most carries, and that is the freshman back, Broyld. Why? Because Smith and Moore are strong when it comes to pushing the pile. They are, especially Moore, running backs I trust to take it in from five yards or less. Gulley has trusted hands and is more elusive in the open field. But right now, I see Broyld possessing everything I just stated. He can be a bruiser, laying a hit on a defender before that defender can hit him. Then, you factor in his speed and length, along with his ability to catch the ball and you have a mixture of all the aforementioned backs in one.
McAllister: Maybe the biggest battle of training camp, this is the trickiest position to predict. Gulley, Smith, and Ameen-Moore will each likely get carries. But based on what I've seen in camp, Broyld has been the best back. From a playmaking perspective, hands, explosiveness, etc. Don't be surprised if Marrone starts Smith, but Broyld may end up seeing the most time on the field.
Garcia Jr: Despite a strong push from the freshmen and Broyld, it's Smith. The junior rose in the spring and should hold onto the job of "bulk carrier" at least initially. He is the most balanced RB in the group and knows the offense as well, which may be the deciding factor between him and the youngsters.
Tortora: Davis. He is built like a running back, so he's not as stocky as a fullback. I like his opportunity for speed paired with his ability to catch out of the back of the backfield.
McAllister: Davis had a long trip to Syracuse battling through injuries at Junior College. But he's finally here and will look to take over the starting fullback position. He's simply more athletic and Clay Cleveland, and that showed throughout camp.
Garcia Jr: Davis has all the raw talent and strength one could desire at the position, but his unfamiliarity with it costs him as the veteran Cleveland holds onto the job.
Tortora: With the possibility of Flemming not being ready for the start of the season, senior Alec Lemon is the receiver I expect to step up as a leader. He, unlike Sales, did not leave a bad taste in my mouth from failed catches during fall camp. However, Lemon now has another injury that has prevented him from practicing fully toward the latter part of fall camp. Healthy, he gives Syracuse the most experience on the field in their receiving core and looks to have become more comfortable with Nassib the more time they have been on the field together
McAllister: Sales. While other receivers have outperformed Sales at times, he almost wins by default. Lemon and Flemming (arguably the best receiver in camp) are nursing injuries. Sales has been consistent but still has more to give. He has the size and skills to be a big time playmaker for the Syracuse offense. Combine that with his experience and he's the natural choice to be the top wideout for the Orange. Sales also tends to perform better in game situations than in practice. He could be the deep threat Nassib so desperately needed last year.
Garcia Jr: Lemon is going to be Nassib's go-to guy both in his progression and in tight spots. The seniors have a great rapport already and big numbers should be put up by the two in 2012.
Wide Receiver 2 - Candidates include Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales, Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming, Chris Clark, Jeremiah Kobena and others
Tortora: West has length. He is that receiver that you can send the ball up top to in coverage, which is an advantage, especially in endzone situations. But, West has to be more tenacious on those opportunities and not expect to catch it. West did make a lot of plays at camp, enough to at least start with him at the beginning of the season.
McAllister: Despite the recent injury, I expect Lemon to suit up against Northwestern as the No. 2 receiver. He set a single season receptions record for Syracuse last season. Lemon is a senior who runs crisp routes, has good hands, and is very reliable. Despite missing portions of camp, Marrone favors upperclassmen he can trust. Lemon fits that mold. During the portions of camp he participated in, he showed very good hands and the ability to gain separation from defenders. His ability to help in the run game by blocking down field shouldn't be undervalued either.
Garcia Jr: Sales should hold onto the gig for now, despite great camp showings from West and Flemming. The senior has a chip on his shoulder after sitting out 2011, but will the talent reflect his attitude or was the Pin Stripe Bowl a flash in the pan?
Wide Receiver 3 - Candidates include Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales, Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming, Chris Clark, Jeremiah Kobena and others
Tortora: Sales has that lasting memory of how he played at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl back in 2010. But once he steps onto the field, that memory will take a backseat to what he does or fails to do now. The reason why Sales is at the bottom of my starters at wideout is because he dropped more balls than any starter should during fall camp. Trusted hands are a must, a basis for any good receiver, and Sales has struggled reeling in the ball. But, he remains a starter to me because some of the catches he made make him too valuable to leave on the bench.
McAllister: West came out on fire at the beginning of camp, but trailed off late. He appears to have worked hard on improving his strength, hands, and route running. His big frame makes him an ideal candidate to man the slot position. West's ability to find openings in the middle of the field combined with another year in the offense could mean a breakout year for the redshirt sophomore. Flemming was threatening to take this spot from West, but the injury to Flemming derailed those chances.
Garcia Jr: Kobena had the edge after the spring, but West made up the ground once he got healthy. He electrified with big-time plays and showed improved hands, an area he was inconsistent in prior to this season. His big 6-foot-3 frame doesn't hurt, either.
Tortora: The best newcomer to the offensive line in fall camp without a doubt in my mind. I agree with Coach Doug Marrone that Hickey has been a surprise in how quickly he has assimilated himself into the line. He seems like he was always there.
McAllister: Assuming Justin Pugh isn't ready for the opener, Hickey will start in his place. Hickey has had a fantastic camp and Syracuse fans likely won't see any drop off.
Garcia Jr: Hickey will bridge the gap between 2011 Justin Pugh and the 2012 version, whenever he is ready. Now healthy, Hickey has impressed the coaching staff progressively, especially Marrone – the former offensive lineman himself.
Right Tackle - Candidates include Sean Hickey, Lou Alexander, Ivan Foy, Kyle Knapp and others
Tortora: Knapp, despite being a freshman, has consistently caught my attention at fall camp. A nice block happens in 11-on-11 drills and who provided it? Number 76. Knapp has come along quickly, showing power to his hits. He gives more effort in drills and in game situations than I have seen from Alexander.
McAllister: Alexander wins this battle almost by default. When Pugh comes back, Hickey will move to this slot. But for now, Alexander will start despite a lackluster camp.
Garcia Jr: Alexander should hold down the fort until Pugh is healthy, and Hickey can shift over to try and replace the memories of inconsistent and steadily beaten 2011 senior Michael Hay.
Tortora: The leader. I could end my reasoning for deciding to keep Chibane a starter with those two words. He is loud, confident, and focused. The ball is hiked and if you are on the other side of Chibane, you could have any name on the back of your jersey.
McAllister: Chibane is a returning starter with a lot of experience. He's a leader on the line who knows the playbook. He has had a very solid camp and should man this position well for the Orange in 2012.
Garcia Jr: Chibane has reached new level seemingly with Pugh on the mend, both on and off the field. He is taking the reigns on the line in place of his classmate and teammate, and the two should prove to be key cogs once Pugh is 100 percent. Expect plenty of runs to the "B" gap in 2012, the hole in between the two seniors.
Right Guard - Candidates include Zack Chibane, Ivan Foy, Kyle Knapp, Rob Trudo, Omari Palmer and others
Tortora: Foy. This was the toughest decision I made of any of the offensive linemen I chose because both players, sophomores Foy and Rob Trudo, had good moments, but those moments were not as pronounced as the play of Hickey and Chibane. Foy edges Trudo because he stood out to me more, including his aid on a run by Gulley.
McAllister: It's s toss up between Trudo and Ivan Foy. Both are redshirt freshmen, but Trudo has more upside. He also has the ability to play center. Trudo's versatility and solid camp land him this starting spot.
Garcia Jr: Trudo may have begun his SU career at center, but a healthy sophomore with his talent needs to be on the field in some capacity. With the expected work at both center and guard in camp, it is enough to earn the nod over fellow inexperienced players on the roster.
Tortora: MacPherson, though not as sound of a lineman as Chibane, was like Chibane in having little issue locking up a defender. With Hickey and Chibane, MacPherson has formed a one-two-three punch. Even with some work needed still on the right side of the line, MacPherson will give runners opportunities to get upfield.
McAllister: Despite drawing criticism from fans, MacPherson had another solid camp. He knows the protections better than anyone, and has the knowledge to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. He looks to be a little bigger than last season, but is still undersized. Marrone really likes what Macky brings to the table.
Garcia Jr: With Trudo winning the right guard spot, expect MacPherson to enter 2012 with minimal pressure, though he knows defenses will continue to attack him on blitzes in addition to lining up a 300-plus pounder against him on every down.
Tortora: The decision of placing the junior Wales over redshirt-senior Stevens was a difficult one because their positives and negatives were parallel to one another. Bad news first: they both failed to catch pass attempts that hit them in the hands. When they failed to gather the ball, Nassib would go right back to them on the following play, showing his faith in them, and they did not disappoint.
McAllister: Thompson was threatening to push Wales, but the recent injury may have delayed that option. Wales has displayed excellent hands, a strong upper body, physicality in blocking drills, and a great rapport with Nassib. There is clearly a level of trust and comfort that is not there with other tight-ends. Expect Wales to be the most productive tight-end in 2012.
Garcia Jr: Stevens jumped out to a lead early in camp, but Wales chased him down as time progressed. Nick Provo's replacement will turn out to be his former roommate, in what will surely be a rotation anyway.
Tortora: QB – Nassib, RB – Broyld, FB – Davis, WR1 – Lemon, WR2 – West, WR3 – Sales, LT – Hickey, LG – Chibane, C – MacPherson, RG – Foy, RT – Knapp , TE - Wales
McAllister: QB – Nassib, RB – Broyld, FB – Davis, WR1 – Sales, WR2 – Lemon, WR3 – West , LT – Hickey, LG – Chibane, C – MacPherson, RG – Trudo, RT – Alexander , TE - Wales
Garcia Jr: QB – Nassib, RB – Smith, FB – Cleveland, WR1 – Lemon, WR2 – Sales, WR3 – West, LT – Hickey, LG – Chibane, C – MacPherson, RG – Trudo, RT – Alexander , TE - Wales