Running back Jerome Smith didn’t see this coming. Not in a 100 or a 1,000 years.
Syracuse started the season 5-2 and after a dramatic win over West Virginia, the Orange seemed to be headed for a second straight bowl game.
Instead, SU lost its last five games, including a sloppy 33-20 loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 3.
One of the few positives of the game was Smith, who carried the ball 10 times for 56 yards and a touchdown. But none of that could erase the shock that Smith experienced from the team’s slide.
“I did not expect this to happen in a million years,” Smith said after the loss to Pitt. “We’re a team and we play together, but we couldn’t get that one more win.”
Syracuse’s trip to a bowl game this year could hinge on Smith. Now in his third year, Smith headlines a crowded backfield vying for carries.
“I need to work on changing everything in the offseason,” Smith said, “and go from playing a little to hopefully a lot next year.”
He seems to have positioned himself to do exactly that.
“A good example of an upperclassman coming on is Jerome Smith,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said after Smith’s solid performance the Spring Game. “Jerome Smith had as fine of a season as any running back we’ve had here in the spring.”
Inside Slant: Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley are the early front runners to nab the starting spot. If the spring game was any indication, Smith has the edge after Gulley had just 18 yards on seven carries in the spring game. Still, SU’s offensive line is going to need to show a little more ability if the Orange want another 1,000-yard rusher.
Career Highlights: Smith had 37 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown in the 2011 season. His best game came against Pittsburgh where he rushed 10 times for 56 yards and a score. He appeared in two games as a freshman before missing the rest of the year with an injury.Wesley Cheng