On Saturday, Syracuse football held their “Fan Fest” event to showcase the 2014 Orange in front of their fan base. CuseNation.com was there to cover the event
The format of Fan Fest was quite simple. It was a scrimmage with live plays, full 11-on-11, in certain situations. The ball was spotted at various spots on the field where the offense would start with possession. It was played as normal football from that point on. Each side, offense and defense, rotated personnel routinely, often mixing starters and backups in a variety of ways. There were a few field goal attempts from the kickers, but it was primary void of special teams play.
Terrel Hunt: Hunt showed exactly what most Syracuse fans were hoping to see from the returning starting quarterback. He had command of the offense, appeared to have improved his ball down the field, and made smart decisions with the ball. As he goes so will the Syracuse offense this season. Hunt gave fans a reason to be hopeful that the offense takes the next step in 2014.
Jarrod West: West got open on several occasions, hauling in a few deep passes from Hunt. While he may have been working on some of the younger defensive backs, he showed the ability to make plays down the field. That will be critical for the Orange this season. West has one year left to show he can be a true number one type receiver and showed flashes of that on Saturday.
Steve Ishmael: If only for one beautiful catch he made. The true freshman wideout only had two catches on the day, but the second was maybe the best of the afternoon from any player. Ishmael was streaking down the sideline having run past his defender. A ball was delivered with some air under it. Ishmael continued to track the ball, snatched it out of the air with his arms fully extended and kept his feet in bounds at the same time. He has future star written all over him.
Sean Avant: The redshirt freshman receiver made several catches on Saturday. He showed a knack for getting open and even made a nice reception down the field as well. He clearly has the trust of quarterback Terrel Hunt.
Durell Eskridge: The future professional safety may not have made a spectacular play, but he was around the ball throughout. Eskridge was in on a number of tackles and played like the veteran leader he will be this season. He is explosive, physical and has tremendous instincts.
Adonis Ameen-Moore: He only had a few carries, but they showed why the Syracuse coaches are so high on the senior running back. His feet appeared quicker than they have ever been during his time with the Orange while still packing a punch when he lowers his shoulder. Ameen-Moore ran through multiple tackles on Saturday as he looks to be the power back this season.
Rodney Williams: The true freshman safety flies towards the ball and recognizes plays very quickly. He is a smart football player who is a very, very good tackler. Twice on bubble screens Williams exploded towards the receiver and made strong one-on-one tackles. He is one of Scott Shafer’s favorites among the freshmen and it is easy to see why.
Zaire Franklin: Another true freshman who made some plays on Saturday, Franklin’s tackles just sound different than most. He really cracks a ball carrier when he arrives. His instincts are solid and he may be one of the more physical players Syracuse has in the freshmen class.
News and Notes
Brisly Estime did not participate in the event. Scott Shafer said afterwards that he is nursing a sprained ankle that he suffered in Friday’s practice. He should be OK and his absence was merely precautionary.
There was a very nice crowd on-hand for the event. It appeared as if there were a few thousand checking out the scrimmage. The bleachers were full and there were many more watching from other areas as well.
Scott Shafer said the team got 70-73 plays in during the scrimmage which was right around the target number.
Shafer also mentioned that getting the ball down the field has been a point of emphasis in the passing game. How much it is utilized will depend on the weekly game plan.
This was the second of two practices as the team practiced Saturday morning as well.
Ivan Foy was back on the first team for Saturday’s scrimmage. Shafer did not indicate this was a permanent move atop the depth chart and indicated Michael Lasker is still competing for the starting right tackle spot. But Foy running with the starters is a good sign that he has shaken off the rust from missing the spring with an academic issue.
Photo gallery from the event can be found HERE.