Top Talent: QB A.J. Long & WR Steve Ishmael – This combination provided a glimpse of the future. Long was surprisingly poised for a true freshman who was also accurate and made the right reads. Ishmael displayed the type of big play ability that made him arguably Syracuse’s top grab in their 2014 class. The two connected on two touchdowns and were the most explosive connection they have had in two seasons.
Middle Man: Offensive Line – The Syracuse offensive line more than held their own against a strong Florida State front four. They gave both Orange quarterbacks a comfortable pocket from which to throw and were solid in opening holes in the running game. There were a big reason why Syracuse racked up over 410 yards of total offense averaged 6.15 yards per play.
Bottom Feeder: RB George Morris – Morris has been somewhat disappointing this season. He was the only Orange back to rush for under four yards per carry against the ‘Noles. Part of it has to do with a lack of consistent carries, but he also has not taken advantage of his opportunities.
Top Talent: DT John Raymon – Call me sentimental, but did anyone else think it was cool to see Raymon out there recovering a fumble against Florida State? Raymon played more snaps than the week prior and is showing signs of being a space eating defensive lineman that made him a big get when he transferred from Iowa. It’s a great story for both Raymon and Syracuse.
Middle Man: CB Brandon Reddish – Reddish had some very good moments with open field tackling and solid coverage downfield. But he dropped an interception when he beautifully undercut a post route in the end zone. In a game where they are trying to pull an upset, he has to make those kinds of plays. Still, he has proven to be Syracuse’s best cover corner and arguably their best open field tackler.
Bottom Feeder: CB Julian Whigham – Whigham was beat a few times over the top and has struggled in those situations at times this season. After the game, he mentioned it was a technique issue, which he is working to correct. He has all of the physical tools but just has to put it all together. Still, more is expected from Whigham at this point.
Top Talent: P Riley Dixon – It’s hard not to take Dixon for granted, but every week he is a force in helping Syracuse in the field position battle. Dixon is one of the nation’s best and averaged 48.3 yards per punt against Florida State. From walk-on to future NFL punter. What a story.
Middle Man: LS Sam Rodgers – Not only did Rodgers snap well as he always does (which is under appreciated at times), but he as solid in return coverage as well. In addition, Rodgers recovered a fumble on a muffed punt, a nod to his hustle and ability to get downfield quickly in punt coverage.
Bottom Feeder: KR Ervin Philips - Philips struggled returning kicks again, averaging less than 20 yards per attempt. His biggest problem is hesitancy and running into a pile rather than finding a lane. His vision will improve, but it has not been great over the last few weeks.
Honorable Mention: Return Coverage Units - Special teams are never the sexy part of the team, but are a critical part of any squad. The Syracuse coverage units have been solid all season and put their best performance of the season together on Saturday. They limited an explosive FSU return group to 18.0 yards per kick return and 2.5 yards per punt return.