The offensive line for the Syracuse Orange returns two starters from the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Justin Pugh and Zack Chibane, while Macky MacPherson and Sean Hickey will enter into Yankee Stadium as first-time starters in the bowl.
Each were with the team in 2010, but all have grown in their roles, especially Hickey, who has been asked to do so much in such a short amount of time.
After not playing in his first season with the Orange, Pugh not only played in, but also started all of the team's 13 games. Within those 13 games, he aided Syracuse running back Delone Carter to achieve a 1,000-yard rushing season. In the final game of that season, the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, Pugh and his teammates aided Carter to two rushing touchdowns.
The blocking by Pugh and his fellow offensive linemen guided Syracuse to over 250 yards rushing, with Carter gaining just 200 of those yards himself.
Pugh held onto his role for 2011, playing and starting in every one of Syracuse's 12 games. Within those games, he, once again, helped the Orange to achieve a 1,000-yard rusher, this time, in Antwon Bailey.
His streak of consecutive starts ended at 25 when a shoulder injury prevented Pugh from playing in Syracuse's first four games of the 2012 season.
Since his return in the team's fifth match of the season, versus Pittsburgh, the Orange rushing attack has achieved at least 120 yards on the ground in seven of their final eight matches.
Pugh has helped Syracuse's rushers to over 250 yards in three of the last six games, leading into this season's Pinstripe Bowl.
2010 was Chibane's first season as a starter, and he has not relinquished his job since. He remains a cornerstone of the offensive line from then – when he helped lead Delone Carter to a 1,000-yard season – until now as the senior helped paved the way for Jerome Smith's 1,000-yard campaign. Chibane is one of the more balanced lineman on the roster and his development was critical to the early-season success the unit had without its best player in Justin Pugh.
Sean Hickey's story is that of patience and perseverance. He missed the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons due to injury. He kept working off the field while rehabbing, and entered 2012 as a veteran of the program without any on the field experience.
Hickey was finally able to make his collegiate debut in 2012. He filled in valiantly at left tackle for Justin Pugh. Hickey did so well, in fact, there was little drop off at that position despite Pugh being out with an injury. Upon Pugh's return, Hickey slid over to the right tackle spot where he continued his stellar play. While the offensive line was a question mark coming into 2012, Hickey was a big reason why it became one of the most consistent units on the team.
Hickey's talent and versatility will continue to serve him well both in the Pinstripe Bowl and going forward. His technique improved game after game, as he was a force in both the running and passing game.
MacPherson came onto the field initially in special teams for the Orange, as the team's snapper on extra points and field goals in 2010.
With Ryan Bartholomew graduating in 2011, MacPherson took over at center for Syracuse, playing in and starting all 12 games for the team. Within those 12 games, he, along with Pugh and Chibane, helped Bailey to become a 1,000-yard rusher.
MacPherson returned as the team's starting center this season, playing in all of their 12 match-ups prior to the upcoming Pinstripe Bowl. With MacPherson at the center of the line, the Orange have opened up holes for four different running backs, advancing Syracuse to over 2,000 yards rushing this season and yet another 1,000-yard rusher in Smith.