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With a fourth-and-1 at the 28-yard line, Syracuse running back Sean Tucker motioned behind quarterback Garrett Shrader, stopping at Shrader’s left side with his hands resting on his knees. Head coach Dino Babers had repeatedly kept his starting offense on the field, ultimately calling a timeout and sending the field goal unit out instead.
But as Shrader started his cadence, Babers stayed in the same position as Tucker, his hands resting on his khaki pants as the ball was snapped. Tucker, who was 21 yards away from breaking the 1000-yard mark, found the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
“(Tucker) is different, and the biggest waste that we can do is treat him like he’s not different,” Babers said about Tucker earlier this week. “He’s something that doesn’t come along very often.”
Tucker passed the 1,000-yard mark in the first quarter against the Hokies, finishing the afternoon with 112 rushing yards. Tucker is the first running back in Syracuse’s all-time history to record 100 rushing yards in each of six straight games, beginning his streak with 132 rushing yards and five touchdowns against UAlbany. He’s the first player since 2012 earn the achievement, last done by Jerome Smith. With four games left, Tucker is on pace for the all-time rushing record in a single season, set by Joe Morris in 1979 at 1,372.
The Orange have leaned on Tucker and Shrader for the majority of the rushing attack this season. Six games into the season, Tucker was responsible for 40.3% of the Orange’s scrimmage yards, the highest rate in Football Bowl Subdivision by more than 4%. He’s won Atlantic Coast Conference’s Running Back of the Week twice this year due to his success.
As of last week, Tucker led the nation in all-purpose yards (1172) and all-purpose yards per game (161.57). The running back was also second in the nation in total rushing yards (948) in just his second year in the starting role.
While Babers had questions earlier in the season if Tucker could handle the increased load, he’s proven he can handle it thus far, taking the majority of the carries compared to other running backs like Cooper Lutz. Tucker first sprung onto the scene last year out of necessity as Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams opted out for the season. His season-high in 2020 was 112 yards, a mark he’s exceeded in six out of SU’s eight games this year.
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