The Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.
Just after head coach Dino Babers said Monday that he didn’t want to comment on player availability for Saturday’s season opener against North Carolina, SU football released its Week 1 depth chart.
SU’s first depth chart provides the first glimpse since the spring at important position changes, as well as players who impressed the coaching staff during a shortened training camp.
“All that stuff’s going to come out, unless it comes out some kind of other way. Once we play the game, I’ll be willing to talk about some of that stuff,” Babers told reporters on Monday.
Below are some key takeaways from the Orange’s Week 1 depth chart:
Five expected contributors were left off the depth chart. Players can return during the season under NCAA rules, so the omission doesn’t necessarily mean that the players have opted out of the season.
Running backs Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard, guard Dakota Davis, linebacker Tyrell Richards and transfer offensive lineman Chris Bleich were not listed on the depth chart. As of Monday, none of those players have publicly opted out.
Adams and Howard were projected to be the one-two punch in a backfield that lost Moe Neal when he graduated in the spring. But last week, both Adams and Howard were omitted from a team recap of a scrimmage, leading to questions about their statuses on the team.
As SU’s second string back last year, Adams averaged 30.5 rushing yards per game and scored three touchdowns. Howard, more of a short-yardage power back, recorded nearly identical stats (30.6 ypg, 3 TD). Without the duo, redshirt freshman Jawhar Jordan and redshirt junior Markenzy Pierre will assume the workload.
The unavailability of Davis and Bleich hurts an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked 101st out of 130 FBS teams in 2019. Bleich, a transfer from Florida, submitted his waiver for immediate eligibility in April but reportedly hasn’t heard back from the NCAA.
“We’re not allowed to talk about all that stuff because it’s tied into the NCAA,” Babers said Aug. 24. “I will say that we’re really interested in hearing some news so we can decide what’s going on with him.”
Richards, a redshirt junior and special teams standout, recently expressed discomfort with playing sports during a time of racial unrest in the United States.
Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the linebacker tweeted, “Why am I playing in a country to entertain people that don’t care about our well being unless we’re on the field. F*** playing sports, we don’t need to distract them from s***, make everyone look at what’s really going on because at the end of the day … I AM JACOB BLAKE.”
After much speculation, Syracuse released its Week 1 depth chart.
– RBs Abdul Adams, Jarveon Howard, G Dakota Davis, LB Tyrell Richards and OL Chris Bleich not listed.
– FB/TE Chris Elmore at LG1
– Andre Cisco at rover
– R-Fr Garrett Williams at CB1
— Danny Emerman (@DannyEmerman) September 7, 2020
<!– Responsive Video Embeds plugin by www.kevinleary.net –>
Where is Chris Elmore playing?
Elmore said earlier this summer that he’s been lining up numerous different spots during camp, but his listing as a left guard on the depth chart is by far the biggest surprise. There, Elmore will join Airon Servais, Chris Vettorrello, Darius Tisdale and Matthew Bergeron on an offensive line that struggled in 2019.
Moving Elmore, who’s played fullback, tight end and defensive tackle, could be related to Davis’ absence. Babers has also said that some offensive linemen were banged up during camp.
The 6-foot, 288-pound utility man from Chicago considered opting out of the season early on during training camp before committing to going “all-in.” Elmore has recorded nine total tackles, 65 rushing yards on 28 carries, three touchdowns and one reception in his career.
Notably, the senior wears a No. 5 jersey, which is not permitted for offensive lineman in college football. Ineligible players, who can’t receive forward passes, must wear numbers between 50 and 79.
Preseason All-American Andre Cisco will be SU’s first rover, a position unique to the 3-3-5 defense. Cisco, the active FBS leader in interceptions (12), will now be tasked with playing deep coverage in the middle and joining the box to stop the run.
His athleticism and ability to read the quarterback should make him an effective rover. He’s also proven to be a strong open-field tackler — he has 87 solo tackles in 22 career games.
Eric Coley, who’s listed at boundary safety, told reporters that he’s also been practicing the rover position. He and Cisco may be used interchangeably.
“We’ve got guys that know more positions, so if someone goes down, it’s easy to move somebody over and they already know what they’re doing,” Coley said Sept. 1. “Don’t really need much practice. So I feel like that’s why the switch happened.”
Other noteworthy position changes since spring include Garrett Williams, who moved from third to first string cornerback. Williams redshirted last year but will now have an important role in the defensive back-heavy 3-3-5.
True freshman Stefon Thompson will start at strong-side linebacker, another unexpected move on the defense. He came to Syracuse rated the No. 41 inside linebacker in his home state of North Carolina, per 247 Sports.
“No football teams have gone through what all the teams have gone through this year,” Babers said. “Coaches really have to take a step back and players are really going to get to step up.”
The post On SU’s 1st depth chart, RBs Howard and Adams among 5 players not listed appeared first on The Daily Orange.