Syracuse held their annual spring game on Saturday. The offense held off the defense 34-27 in an entertaining format. During the game, five things stood out as items to watch for the upcoming 2014 season.
Syracuse appears to have more playmakers on the outside this season. Ashton Broyld did not drop a single pass in the spring game, and looked more comfortable as a wide receiver. He was able to make people miss and made a couple of big plays, including a 45-yard touchdown catch off of a screen. Broyld finishd with two touchdowns on the day.
Brisly Estime looked sensational. He ran the post route several times with great success, and showed great burst in the open field. He took a post 64-yards down to the three-yard line. Expect Estime to be Syracuse's most explosive player this fall.
Terrel Hunt was solid, showing a bit better touch on the ball. Most of the throws were screen passes, but he clearly had command of the offense and is a leader on the field. Hunt completed 12 of his 15 attempts for 95-yards.
Austin Wilson stepped up. He looked like the best option other than Hunt. In fact, he may have outplayed Hunt in this one. The redshirt freshman threw some nice passes, including a touch pass down the sideline to Broyld. Wilson had command of the offense, a quick throwing motion, and flashed a strong arm. He finished 6-6 for 124-yards and two touchdowns.
Both Mitch Kimble and A.J. Long had their moments, but were inconsistent. Kimble has a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion and does not appear to have the strongest arm. He did have a nice touch pass to Kobena in the endzone on one drive, however.
Long was up and down. He led the first touchdown drive of the game, hitting Broyld for a six-yard score. But he also threw an interception, and struggled to throw the ball consistently down field. Long is just a freshman, and there is certainly enough there to be excited about his potential. He's just not quite ready.
John Miller was very impressive, despite being limited due to injury. He got out of his stance quickly, was strong at the point of attack, and drives with his legs very well. It's easy to see why he has earned the praise of the coaching staff this spring. Expect him to be the opening starter at center.
Rob Trudo and Sean Hickey were solid. Syracuse knows what they have in each of those players, so no surprise there. But Michael Lasker looked improved. He looked more comfortable at tackle and moved a bit better.
Jamar McGloster and Jon Burton showed some positive signs. Each appear to be getting better, but still have a ways to go. McGloster still gets too high in his stance, causing him to lose leverage and get pushed back by the opposing lineman.
Burton uses his hands well and has quick feet, but is slow getting into position and misses assignments at times. He did stand up Wayne Williams twice, however.
Kendall Moore played center for a large portion of the scrimmage, and held his own. Still, he is too small to play offensive line consistently right now. His blocking technique is solid, but he does not have the strength to handle division one defensive linemen.
The Syracuse defense did not tackle well on Saturday. Especially in the defensive backfield. The Orange receivers broke tackles for big plays routinely. This is a concern going into the season. It was hard to tell how the linebackers would be against the run, as screen passes were the main theme.
Ron Thompson is going to have a breakout season. He was impressive coming off the edge and getting into the backfield. As was Donnie Simmons. I've seen enough from each to know they can contribute next season.
The speed and athleticism of that unit has improved with those two developing. Add Marcus Coleman, who played solid in the middle, and Syracuse could have a nice unit up front.
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