Syracuse keeps offense mostly secret at spring scrimmage
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) The flavor of the day was vanilla at Syracuse football's spring scrimmage Saturday.
Coach Scott Shafer promised he would showcase very little of his team's offense during the scrimmage, which concluded spring practice, and the third-year coach lived up to his word, not revealing anything at the Carrier Dome that could serve as fodder for 2015 opponents.
Orange quarterbacks connected on 21 of 48 passes and its rushing attack averaged under two yards a carry on 36 attempts for 71 net yards - not a great look given the offense averaged just over 17 points a game last year, 121st overall in the nation. Shafer wasn't concerned.
''It was good to get the spring game out of the way to be honest with you,'' Shafer said. ''My biggest goal was to get through it injury-free and I think we did for the most part. I saw some good things out there. We tried to keep things real vanilla on offense, we have a lot of things that we didn't want to use ... We only ran three (types of) run plays.
''We didn't want anything to come out on video tape or on television to be honest with you.''
The Orange suffered through a 3-9 season (1-7 in the ACC) in 2014 due in large part to a broken leg suffered by quarterback Terrel Hunt, who played in just five games. A fifth-year player, Hunt completed just 10 of 30 passing attempts for 145 yards in the spring game. He was victimized by several drops but also overthrew several receivers, mostly on long passes.
Nevertheless, he said he was ready to go. ''I don't really think I'm shaking off the rust anymore,'' Hunt said. ''Maybe just a few cobwebs.
''We weren't able to run our full offense but the things we did run, I think people understood where they needed to be and were in the right spots. I wish we would have connected a lot more but it happens. I'm not concerned at all about the long game. I'd rather overthrow than under throw.''
His favorite targets Saturday were sophomore Steve Ishmael and junior Sean Avant, who caught four each, and new receiver Trey Dunkelberger, a 6-foot-5 tight end transfer from Pierce College who caught three. Ashton Broyld, Erv Phillips and Ben Lewis looked impressive as hybrid players on offense.
Ishmael said he was concerned about the missed connections in the passing game, but noted ''the drops won't happen during the season. I guarantee it. We're going to work on all of this a lot over the summer and we're going to be real good for the season.''
Defensive standouts Saturday included sophomore cornerback Cordell Hudson, who registered several break ups; defensive ends Ron Thompson and Donnie Simmons, who had three and two sacks, respectively; cornerback Joe Stanard and linebackers Zaire Franklin and Jonathan Thomas.
''I was pleased with the hitting on tackling,'' Shafer said, ''and I was real impressed with Hudson.''
Syracuse opens the 2015 season on Sept. 4 against Rhode Island.