2014 Syracuse Preview What You Need To Know
Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt
Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt
Posted Aug 7, 2014

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2014 Syracuse Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Syracuse Preview  
What You Need To Know About The Offense: The good news is that Syracuse is in the small handful of ACC teams with a returning starting quarterback, Terrel Hunt. The flip side of the equation is that the 2013 team clumsily averaged just 22 points per game. The Orange made too many penalties, turned the ball over too often and generally lacked efficiency. With Hunt a year older and a year wiser, coordinator George McDonald is hoping his attack will have more balance and pop than it did a season ago. The one constant in Upstate New York is an assertive running game, with Prince-Tyson Gulley about to become the new workhorse. The fifth-year senior will have the luxury of operating behind a veteran line that’s a capable center away from being vastly underrated. Keep an eye on sophomore WR Brisly Estime, whose explosiveness will entice the coaching staff to concoct inventive ways to get the ball in his hands.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: The Orange defense was no better than average last season, a stigma that’ll be difficult to shake in 2014. Scott Shafer and coordinator Chuck Bullough want to dictate the tempo of games by generating pressure and creating takeaways. The philosophy generally worked last year. Selling out, though, will come with a hefty price tag this fall, especially if the corners can’t shut down passing lanes better than they did in 2013. The D-line will sorely miss the presence of tackle Jay Bromley, who led the team with 10 sacks. Someone must pick up the slack, even if it means higher expectations for ends Robert Welsh and Ron Thompson. Syracuse’s most influential defenders are members of the back seven, SS Durell Eskridge and linebackers Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch. Eskridge already has NFL scouts lining up to look at his film. Davis has something to prove as a senior after hitting a plateau in his production in 2013.

Players You Need To Know

1. LT Sean Hickey, Sr.
After earning honorable mention All-ACC in 2013, Hickey is back to become one of the league’s best pass protectors. After starting all 13 games at right tackle as a sophomore, he made a smooth transition to the left side to supplant New York Giants first-round draft pick Justin Pugh. The 6-5, 300-pound Hickey is ideally nimble and light on his feet, yet he’s also one of the strongest members of the team, benching more than 500 pounds in offseason drills.

2. SS Durell Eskridge, Jr.
Eskridge emerged into one of the best young strong safeties in the league and a defender firmly on the NFL’s radar. He’s always had the measurables, a 6-3, 203-pounder, with good wheels and an enormous wingspan. But in 2013, he took steps toward becoming a more complete player, leading the Orange with 78 tackles and four interceptions. After earning Third All-ACC in his first season as a full-timer, Eskridge is getting healthy this offseason so that he can author his best season yet at Syracuse.

3. RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, Sr.
Gulley is back for his fifth season, earning a medical hardship for missing most of 2011 with a broken collarbone. Three of last season’s top four rushers are back, led by the senior, who went for 456 yards and four touchdowns on 83 carries. Durability has been Gulley’s biggest problem over the years. If the 5-9, 195-pound playmaker can remain healthy, he has the open-field quickness and determination, both as a runner and a receiver, to blossom into a dynamite all-around playmaker for the Orange.

4. LB Cameron Lynch, Jr.
While Lynch doesn’t have the best measurables among the linebackers, he has a knack for coming up with the big play. Syracuse’s fixture at strongside ranked second of the team with 69 tackles to go along with 12 stops for loss, four sacks, two picks and five quarterback hurries. The 5-11, 226-pound leader is an instinctive, hard-working defender who’s looked up to by his younger teammates. Lynch is the type of player who’ll never get the requisite respect nationally, but is appreciated in his own locker room.

5. LB Dyshawn Davis, Sr.
Syracuse is looking for Davis to deliver a monster finale after his output dipped in 2013. He was overshadowed by Marquis Spruill, making just 49 tackles, seven stops for loss and 2.5 sacks. However, the 6-2, 221-pound linebacker in a safety’s body has the range and closing speed to bounce back quickly as a senior. The Orange plans to use Davis as a freelancer who can rush the passer and drop back into coverage with equal effectiveness.

6. QB Terrel Hunt, Jr.
The Orange hopes it has its starting quarterback for the next two seasons. Fingers are crossed in Upstate New York. Hunt started the final 10 games of his sophomore season, mixing in exciting moments with bouts of inconsistency. He wound up completing 167-of-273 passes for 1,638 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight picks. The athletic 6-3, 233-pounder also channeled his inner-Donovan McNabb by rushing for 500 yards and seven touchdowns on 106 carries. This season, Hunt wants to become a more patient pocket passer, while cleaning up mechanics that are prone to becoming sloppy.

7. DE Robert Welsh, Sr.
Now that DT Jay Bromley has graduated, Welsh is being counted on to spearhead the Orange pass rush in 2014. Welsh showed glimpses of reaching his potential in his first year as a full-timer by making 32 tackles, seven stops for loss, four sacks, a pick and four pass breakups. At 6-3 and 248 pounds, with heavy hands, he’s big enough to stop the run, yet he also has the athleticism to chase quarterbacks down from behind. This is a very big year for Welsh.

8. P Riley Dixon, Jr.
In Dixon, Syracuse believes it houses a punter capable of being a genuine asset to the defense. The former walk-on won the job in Week 3 last season and went on to deliver a breakout campaign. He averaged 42.1 yards a boot, aided by a school-record 75-yarder, and he pinned opponents inside their own 20 on 21-of-75 attempts. With even modest improvement this offseason, the 6-5, 219-pound Dixon is liable to become an All-ACC punter.

9. WR Ashton Broyld, Jr.
Broyld has come a long way since arriving as a touted quarterback. After bouncing around to running back and H-back, he appears to have settled down at outside receiver. While consistency eluded him, he did lead the Orange with 52 receptions for 452 yards. Broyld is a solid all-around athlete, with the formidable 6-3, 223-pound frame to box out defenders on short and intermediate routes. He should be over 50 grabs this fall, but his yards after the catch have to be considerably higher.

10. WR Jarrod West, Sr.
West has been a steady receiver for the Orange, earning a letter in each of the last three seasons. While he won’t blow defenders away with his speed or leaping ability, he has good size at 6-2 and 209 pounds, and he won’t hurt quarterbacks with drops. West brings 85 career receptions into his finale, though his production slipped considerably to 26 receptions for 397 yards and a touchdown in 2013. He’s the type of hard-working, blue-collar playmaker the staff likes to point to as an example for the younger players.

- 2014 Syracuse Preview