Syracuse Orange running backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley have been very productive for the offense this season, but they have had to wait for their opportunity to help command the team's rushing attack.
Last season, Bailey got the nod to be the main back, with Smith and Gulley sharing the carries that Bailey was given a breather from.
Like many of the younger players on the 2010 Syracuse team, Jerome Smith's season was cut short due to injury. After playing a limited role in 2011, Smith entered the 2012 season as the starting tailback for the Orange.
Early in the 2012 season, Smith struggled. Many were calling for Prince-Tyson Gulley to see more time. But Smith kept working and broke out against Connecticut with a 133 yard performance. That game started a streak of four straight 100-yard efforts for Smith, who finished the season with over 1,000 yards. He ran for a career high 144 yards against previously unbeaten Louisville. Smith has emerged as the lead back for a potent Syracuse offense. He goes into the Pinstripe Bowl having rushed for 111 yards per game over his last six.
Gulley did play in his freshman season, but was used sparingly in the running game. Through 10 games, Gulley ran the ball 13 times for a total of 74 yards.
He did get on the field for the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, but on special teams, rather than in the backfield. Gulley served as Syracuse's kick returner, taking four kickoffs a total of 68 yards,
In 2011, his sophomore season, Gulley carried the ball 18 times for a total of 89 yards, playing in all of Syracuse's first four games. He was also involved on special teams once again, returning both kickoffs and punts.
But Gulley's season ended after that fourth game as a result of a broken collar bone.
Coming into the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Gulley has been a part of the Orange ground attack more than in any other season. He has carried at least seven times in all of Syracuse's 12 contests. In eight of the team's 12 games, Gulley was handed the ball at least 10 times.
Gulley has shined as he has been given more opportunities, averaging more than four yards per carry in eight of 12 matches, including in five of the last six games.
He has reached the end zone six times on the ground.
Along with gaining more carries, Gulley has also become more of a factor in the passing attack. He has caught at least one pass in all but one of Syracuse's 12 contests, taking one of his receptions downfield for a 61-yard score, giving him seven total touchdowns coming into this postseason.
Used together, Smith and Gulley have helped the Orange to move the ball on the ground, taking some of the pressure off of quarterback Ryan Nassib in creating a more balanced offense.
Cumulatively, they have accounted for over 1,600 yards of Syracuse's offense as well as 10 of the team's scores.