Syracuse has completed ten days of training camp as they prepare for the start of the 2014 season on August 29th. Even in that short period of time, we have learned a lot about this version of the Orange.
10. The Adonis Ameen-Moore hype is warranted. He gained a lot of praise during the spring from the coaching staff, which has continued this fall. Ameen-Moore will be counted on to be the power back in the offense and is making a strong case to warrant significant carries. Not only has he slimmed down, but appears to be running with more purpose. Ameen-Moore has improved footwork and cutting ability as well.
9. Lost in the body transformations of others is the work Josh Parris has done in the offseason. Parris is only listed at seven pounds lighter than last season (245 vs. 252) but his frame is completely different. As tight ends coach Bobby Acosta puts it, last season he looked like a tight end. This year, he looks like a wide receiver. Becoming a consistent threat in the middle of the field will be big for the offense. Improving his agility and quickness will only help him become that threat.
8. Syracuse has a plethora of talented running backs. In addition to the aforementioned Ameen-Moore, the Orange have Prince-Tyson Gulley, George Morris and DeVante McFarlane that may all command touches. Each brings their own skill set to the table, but the depth means Syracuse has four running backs that could carry the load if need be. Not to mention freshman Ervin Philips, but more on him in a bit.
7. There are options at receiver. Jarrod West showed big play ability during the Fan Fest scrimmage. Sean Avant has stepped up and proven the praise from Hunt was an accurate assessment of his abilities. Ben Lewis has shown a few flashes. Ashton Broyld certainly looks the part. Brisly Estime can provide game breaking speed. The freshmen receivers, Steve Ishmael, Adly Enoicy and Jamal Custis, have each earned praise from the coaching staff at different points during camp. Adrian Flemming and Quinta Funderburk have flashed as well. Syracuse needs a couple guys to step up in this group, but there are plenty of options to do just that. Some of the more talented guys are the youngest as well, giving hope for the future.
6. The offense is putting a premium on speed. Not necessarily in terms of personnel, but in terms of how fast they will go as a unit. Offensive coordinator George McDonald has put that plan into action as they look to be one of the fastest teams in the country. You can see it in the way the team practices and saw strong evidence of that during the Fan Fest scrimmage. They likely have another gear they can get to for game situations, but it could be a fun year to watch the offense grow.
5. Ervin Philips may end up being an underrated star of the freshman class. Scott Shafer continues to rave about the freshman talent. His abilities may force the Orange coaches to get him on the field. Previously, he was thought to be a near lock to redshirt. Now he may get touches as a change of pace back, slot receiver and return man.
4. The rest of the freshmen have had their moments as well. Rodney Williams has earned praise, as have linebackers Colton Moskal and Zaire Franklin. The freshmen corners have done some good things. All in all, the freshmen class is what many Syracuse fans thought they were. A group of talented athletes who could contribute to the program and help the Orange take that next step in the ACC. Yes it is still very early in their careers, but the returns have been positive thus far.
3. The defensive line needs a consistent pass rusher. Replacing Jay Bromley won’t be easy. He was a guy that collapsed the pocket routinely while also helping the run defense in the middle. It will be difficult to replace his production and will likely be done by a rotation. Isaiah Johnson and Wayne Williams may be the key, as they have the best pass rushing ability of the interior linemen. Ron Thompson’s development will also be important. This will continue to be a key group to watch throughout the rest of training camp.
2. The offensive line is deep. The starting five may look similar to last season with John Miller replacing Macky MacPherson. But there is quality depth behind them. Omari Palmer and Michael Lasker are both guys that could start for Syracuse and still give them a quality unit. Others such as Jason Emerich, Jon Burton and Jamal McGloster are coming along as well. This could be one of the better groups on the team this season.
1. Terrel Hunt looks to have taken strides in his development. Hunt has looked very impressive in training camp thus far. Not having to split reps with the starters certainly helps, as does being the unquestioned starter. Hunt has shown command of the offense, improved accuracy down the field and an improved poise within the pocket. Yes it’s just camp, but it certainly gives Syracuse fans a reason to be excited about the offense this season.