Andrew Renneisen | Photo EditorFootball
Syracuse depth chart set for season opener against Northwestern
When Doug Marrone released his two-deep depth chart Saturday, he was adamant that nothing was definitive. Players who aren’t listed could still see time on the field and could even earn starting spots.
Seven different spots also have an “OR” listed beside them, indicating ongoing position battles leading up to Syracuse’s season opener against Northwestern on Sept. 1.
“All the other ones that are listed as ORs, those are people that we feel that we can play,” Marrone said. “No one’s really separated himself.”
Marrone repeated that sentiment throughout preseason camp. Players at multiple positions on both sides of the ball had yet to step up and grab a starting spot by the final week of camp.
Among the most notable starters named was running back Jerome Smith, who was one of five players competing for the starting spot. Marrone said his decision ultimately came down to Smith’s previous game experience and his performance in training camp.
Prince-Tyson Gulley, who missed the final eight games of last season with a broken collarbone, will serve as Smith’s backup.
“I just think consistency. He’s done it more than everyone else,” Marrone said. “I think Prince has had a really nice camp. I think he’s done a nice job. … We’ll see how it goes from week to week and how they perform.”
Smith played behind 1,000-yard rusher Antwon Bailey last season, and ran for 134 yards and one touchdown on 37 carries. He also beat out sophomore Adonis Ameen-Moore and freshman Ashton Broyld.
Marrone said he expects Broyld to see time on the field. The 6-foot-4, 229-pound Broyld could also line up in the slot, and also worked on taking direct snaps in a wildcat formation during training camp.
While battles for playing time continue at some spots, several competitions did reach a conclusion Saturday:
- Marquis Spruill will start at strong-side linebacker, earning the starting spot over Dan Vaughan. Spruill played in the middle last season, where he recorded 62 tackles and three sacks. Vaughan was the second-leading tackler on the team with 72 stops and a sack. Siriki Diabate will start in the middle, and Dyshawn Davis returns as a starter at weak-side linebacker.
- Juco transfer Markus-Pierce Brewster will start at defensive end, while senior Brandon Sharpe starts on the other side. Fifth-year senior Deon Goggins moved from nose tackle to end in the spring, but he is back on the inside for the start of the 2012 season. Jay Bromley, who was limited during preseason camp due to a sprained ankle, will start at nose tackle.
- Ivan Foy earned the starting nod at right guard over Rob Trudo, though that spot was among the ones with an “OR” listed next to it. Marrone said whether or not the “OR” comes off is based on performance. Neither Foy nor Trudo has ever played in a game for the Orange. Lou Alexander will start at right tackle, but Marrone said the senior still has improvements to make before he’s at the level the team needs him to be at.
- Beckett Wales earned the starting spot at tight end over David Stevens. Both Marrone and quarterback Ryan Nassib have said Wales is a similar player to Nick Provo, who graduated in May. Freshman Ron Thompson would also have seen considerable time on the field, but he continues to battle nagging injuries suffered in training camp.
- Brandon Reddish and Ri’Shard Anderson will be the starting cornerbacks, while Shamarko Thomas will start as strong safety and Jeremi Wilkes will be the free safety.
While not all the starting spots are settled, Marrone said the players listed on the depth chart are expected to play.
“We’re not hiding anything. The kids that are listed on this depth chart and ones with an ‘OR’ are the ones we expect to play,” Marrone said. “If they play, they play. If they don’t play, it’s not because we didn’t feel comfortable about putting them in a game.”
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