Freshmen make big impact for the Orange

Syracuse has played some true freshmen in 2013 with mixed results. On Saturday, two of those players stepped up on Saturday and were major factors in the Orange win.

Some of Syracuse's true freshmen have had contributions this season. They have not been a major factor in a win, however. In Saturday's win over Wake Forest, that changed.

Brisly Estime was the leading receiver for an offense in desperate need of a playmaker. Most of his nine catches (the most by a Syracuse receiver this year) were on quick passes in the flat, but he did have a couple down the field as well. Both of those plays down the field were key in the Orange's only two scoring drives.

"Brisly Estime is doing a good job," head coach Scott Shafer said. "He's a young guy and we've put a lot on his table. We want to continue to do that but I thought he handled it well today."

On the first drive of the second half, Estime ran a curl route and sat in an opening in the Wake Forest zone. He caught a strike from Terrel Hunt for a first down at the Wake Forest 18-yard line. Three players later, Hunt found the endzone on a quarterback keeper.

Two Syracuse drives later, Estime was the one who scored the touchdown. Fellow receiver Jarrod West took the pitch on a reverse. Estime, at the snap, faked like he was going to take the pass out in the flat. As the ball was pitched to West, he turned up field on a wheel route and was able to get behind the Wake secondary. West delivered a pass to Estime who was wide open in the endzone.

Two scores, both set up by Estime who had a career day for the Orange.

"It's (Estime's involvement in the offense) because it takes a lot off of me," quarterback Terrel Hunt said of his freshman h-back. "I could throw a bubble out there and he'll run an extra 20-yards. Just simple things like that. It adds on to the playmakers that we have. He's a young guy, but he's definitely hungry."

Not to be outdone is freshman defensive lineman Isaiah Johnson, who helped set up the Orange's second score himself in what was the biggest play of the game. With Wake Forest trailing just 7-0 and the ball near midfield, quarterback Tanner Price dropped back on second and seven.

Johnson fired off the ball at the snap and was supposed to be chipped by two Wake linemen. Johnson split them as they looked to block for a wide receiver screen that was being set up. But Johnson had other ideas. He stuck his long arms into the air and got his hands on the ball, which ricocheted upwards. Johnson then tracked the ball, located it and dove to make the catch. One play later was the aforementioned Estime touchdown.

The huge turnover wasn't the only play Johnson made. He was one of several players who played in the Demon Deacons' backfield all game long. He added a half a sack and pressured Tanner Price on several other occasions.

"My confidence is always high," Johnson said. "That's not something I worry about. I just have to blame this game on God and my coaches for giving me the opportunity to step up and do what I have to do. They say I can't be a freshman all year so I had to step up with the big guys and that's what I did."

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