Several names immediately come to mind when projecting the top playmakers for the 2015 Syracuse Orange offense. Steve Ishmael, Ervin Philips, Brisly Estime and others. But one man, who showed flashes last season, seems to be forgotten far too often.
Admittedly, we are guilty of that as well. Ben Lewis absolutely deserves to be mentioned and discusses as the top backup to express back Ervin Philips. Not only will he see plenty of snaps there, but because of his experience, he can play on the outside at a moment’s notice.
Lewis runs solid routes, has displayed the ability to gain yards after the catch, and has reliable hands. In fact, head coach Scott Shafer said he has been impressed with Lewis’ ability as more of a true running back, something the express backs will be asked to do in Tim Lester’s new offense.
From everything we have heard, Lewis is adjusting to the position very well. He has performed consistently well during practices, and has become one of the cagey veterans on the team.
Lewis himself is excited about his new role, but views it much the same as being a traditional wide receiver.
”I can’t say too much yet,” Lewis said. “Once the first game comes, everyone will see what we’re all about. All the routes, it’s just like playing wideout to me. It’s running routes. That came pretty natural to me. That’s the part of the h-position that came pretty easy.”
His quick feet and ability to find open creases in the intermediate passing game could make Lewis a prime target on the third and medium situations. On downfield throws, he can adjust to the ball well in order to make plays on it. He showed that during the Fan Fest scrimmage, where he came back towards the ball and jumped to try to bring it down, contorting his body as well.
Lewis did not come down with the catch, but showed why Terrel Hunt and the other quarterbacks have a lot of faith in him.
The focus for Lewis going forward is to continue to get better as a team so they are prepared for week one. That will give him, and his teammates, the opportunity to do something that has them chomping at the bit.
”We’re trying to stay focused because we’ve still got a lot to install and prepare with first,” Lewis said. “But obviously, you’ve got three weeks, a month before that first game and you’re hitting each other. I just can’t wait to hit another color, you know?”
That color will be blue and white when they welcome Rhode Island into the Carrier Dome on Friday, September 4th.
CuseNation.com's Mike McAllister and Tim Ferguson contributed to this report