The words that Orange fans have longed to hear…football…is…back!
After a long, and I mean long summer, the NFL kicked off last night. The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans 34-20. Now why is that relevant to Syracuse football? Because once the NFL kicks off, college football and the Orange kickoff.
Syracuse will be opening the season against the #18 UNC Tar Heels. UNC was last ranked in 2016 when the AP poll listed UNC as the 15th best team in the country going in to their matchup against Duke.
The Orange and the Tar Heels last played in 2018 when the Tar Heels came to the Dome. Now, two years later, both rosters have dramatically changed. Both teams with new starting quarterbacks and backs to lead the rushing attack.
The Orange ended up winning their last matchup in overtime. One player that might come to mind from that game – is Tommy DeVito.
The UNC game in 2018 was DeVito’s “breakout game”, if you will. Starting quarterback, Eric Dungey, struggled against the Tar Heel defense with no touchdown passes in the first three quarters.
After two punts and a turnover on downs, Dino Babers decided to pull Dungey and put is freshman quarterback in. DeVito would go on to win the game in double overtime throwing three touchdowns and over 180 yards. From this moment, the post-Dungey era looked promising for the Orange.
Once the depth chart was released for the Orange a few weeks ago, there were questions surrounding the running game. With a backfield that is already depleted with top rusher Moe Neal graduating, projected running backs 1 and 2 were both not listed on the depth chart.
Abdul Adams, the former 4-star running back who transferred from Oklahoma to Syracuse before the 2019 season, and Jarveon Howard were not on the depth chart. The two players, along with redshirt freshman Cooper Dawson and redshirt junior, Tyrell Richards.
With the top two projected running backs out, the Orange will rely on the redshirt freshman, Jawhard Jordan and redshirt junior Markenzy Pierre for the snaps. Unfortunately, these are the only two running backs listed on the depth chart. If one of them goes down with an injury, there does not appear to be a lot of depth.
With two new running backs at the helm, it appears matters will rest a little heavier on Tommy DeVito’s shoulders. DeVito lost his top target last season, Triston Jackson, when he declared for the NFL Draft. Another notable player missing in the receiving core is Sean Riley, who originally signed with the New England Patriots but did not make the opening day roster.
The Orange will rely on returning players Taj Harris and Nykeim Johnson on the air attack. Last season, Harris had 37 receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Johnson had just 19 receptions for 99 yards and no touchdowns.
Be sure to tune in to WAER at 88.3 FM at 11:30 for countdown to kick off. The season begins at 12 p.m. right here on your home of the Orange, WAER.