Football

Syracuse’s offensive line looks to rebuild depth, replace NFL draft pick Pugh

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer admitted at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff on Monday that he has concerns about the Orange’s offensive line – in particular, replacing first-round draft pick Justin Pugh.

“Those positions are going to be key, no different than the quarterback questions that we’ve been asked the last couple days here,” Shafer said. “Every position’s important and to try to form a cohesive unit those kids have to create the trust in one another.”

The left side of the offensive line is filled with familiar faces. Center Macky MacPherson and left guard Rob Trudo are both returning starters at their positions and left tackle Sean Hickey started at the opposite tackle a year ago. Right guard Nick Robinson and right tackle Ivan Foy are the question marks.

Neither were starters last year and with Shafer’s additional concern about depth, they seem to have the starting roles pretty firmed up. Shafer cited Syracuse’s high tuition rates preventing walk-ons from helping the Orange build depth — a problem that MacPherson said left SU shorthanded during its late-season collapse in 2011.

MacPherson’s compliments to his offensive linemates are encouraging to Shafer though. At the core of a strong offensive line is familiarity and confidence in one another. MacPherson has told Shafer that this group is getting there. Even without a star like Pugh.

Said Shafer: “Every offensive line I’ve ever been around that’s worth a hill of beans, they were tight and they believed in one another.”

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