Position Preview: Running Back

CuseNation.com previews the running back position entering the 2014 season.

Depth Chart

Starter: Prince-Tyson Gulley
Reserves: Adonis Ameen-Moore, George Morris, DeVante McFarlane, Ervin Philips, Greg Tobias

2013 Statistics

Gulley: 83 carries, 485-yards, 4 touchdowns, 15 catches, 59-yards, 1 touchdown
Morris: 79 carries, 346-yards, 1 touchdown, 2 catches, 20-yards
McFarlane: 48 carries, 302-yards, 1 touchdown, 4 catches, 40-yards
Ameen-Moore: 5 carries, 26-yards

What We Know

Gulley will be the starter, but each of the backs will receive carries. Morris and McFarlane were thought to be the primary reserves, but Ameen-Moore has emerged as a legitimate threat out of the backfield. He runs with the most power of the group and could be the thunder to Gulley’s lightning.

Morris and McFarlane were solid in a reserve role last season but will look to increase their work load this year. McFarlane is used more as an outside runner while Morris provides explosiveness between the tackles. Morris will get on the field because of his pass protecting abilities as well.

Despite being the starter, Gulley seems to receive the least amount of attention. He is a solid back who can help in the passing game as well. Gulley has good speed and has proven to be a big weapon for the Orange in the past.

A slimmed down Ameen-Moore was impressive in the spring and during fall training camp. Look for him to have an important role this season.

Biggest Question

What will Ervin Philips role be? The coaching staff has gushed over his ability during training camp. He has explosiveness and shiftiness in the open field that few others on the roster possess. The problem is, there is a logjam in front of him in order to earn playing time.

Running backs coach DeAndre Smith has insisted that Philips will play but they are unsure in what capacity. Syracuse has used two running back sets out of the shotgun this fall. Philips could find a role there. He could also fill in as an h-back from time to time.

Where Philips may really make his mark is on special teams as a returner. That would give Philips the ability to be at his best in the open field and spare unnecessary injury exposure to players like Gulley and Brisly Estime.

Season Outlook

Maybe the most talented and deepest group on the roster, the running back will be utilized frequently throughout the 2014 season. Each of the top five guys is capable of making plays and each will get their chances during the year. Prince-Tyson Gulley is the most likely to push for 1,000-yards. Maybe the most intriguing thing to watch will be how productive Ameen-Moore can be throughout the season.

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