As offensive coordinator George McDonald continues to install his offense, the biggest question surrounding Syracuse still resides with who will be the leader of that offense. While McDonald says there hasn't been separation yet, he is happy with the progress thus far.
"Tim Lester is a great quarterbacks coach," McDonald said with a smirk. "I think the quarterbacks are competing. Coach Lester said it best, the competition really started the first day we put on pads. Now, the first few practices, we're trying to install the offense and get a base feel. Now, guys are really starting to get into real football with pressure coming.
"We're still in the beginning phases, but both of the guys, everybody is really competing hard. Some days aregood, some days are not so good. It's going to be a body of work over whatever number of days Coach Shafe says to make that decision."
Not surprisingly, Coach McDonald thinks highly of his offense. He believes it has the potential to be explosive in the Orange's new conference, and is pleased with how the team is progressing within his system.
"I'm excited," McDonald admitted. "The first thing we said when we started coming back we wanted it to be sixteen. Meaning we had fifteen practices in the spring, now we want sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. The guys have bought into it. They did a really good job in the summer getting used to everything.
"They've really picked up from where they were in the spring. We're doing a lot of good things that we didn't do at the end of the spring. I think we're right on pace. Obviously, we don't want to play tomorrow, but I feel we're right on pace to be ready to go when that time comes."
The biggest conundrum McDonald has is how to get touches for each in his stable of talented running backs. He believes there is room for every one of them to make an impact in 2013.
"There's one ball, but hopefully their eighty plays," McDonald explained. "You just divide it up. The system is built for the players. It's not about plays it's not about scheme. It's about players. What we try to do is develop packages for everybody. Gulley will do certain things, Jerome will do certain things, Devante will do certain things, George Morris will do some things, Ameen-Moore and Clay.
"I think the biggest thing for these guys is they have position flexibility. That makes it easy for me. You can create anything that you want, and they're smart and talented enough to go out and execute it. As a coach, you have to make sure you put them in the right spot. But everybody will get on the field. They might not get fifty plays, but they're plays will mean something and they'll impact the game, hopefully."
Outside of the quarterback, the biggest question mark on offense is surrounding the wide receivers. With the loss of their top two players at the position from a year ago, Coach McDonald thinks there is potential in this year's group.
"The receivers have done a really nice job," McDonald offered. "They're getting off the press, they're running crisp routes, they're blocking hard. It's just like everything else. It's a lot of guys who may not have a ton of game experience, but they're really, really hungry.
"They're really working hard to get better every day. As an offense, we're not where we want to be. But I'm very pleased with the effort and the execution of the fact that they're coming to work every day. When you watch the tape, they're getting better at something."
Tight end figures to be a position that Coach McDonald can utilize to help the Orange take advantage of mismatches and make plays down the field. While the young talent continues to improve, so does the returning starter.
"The same thing with everybody else," McDonald claimed. "We want to be physical and we want to be dependable. When it's a run play, we've got to be able to hold the point of attack. We've got to be able to get the run started. When it's a pass play, we've got to be accountable and dependable to make the catch. Beckett's done a great job.
"He's really improved his blocking a lot. He's really bought in to being a blocking and a pass-catching receiver. Then we have some talented young guys who just have to catch up with the speed of the game. I think it's going to be a solid group that we can count on going into a game plan."
Syracuse opens their 2013 season against Penn State at MetLife Stadium on August 31st at 3:30pm.