Syracuse v. Duke notebook: Young players see plenty of action

Many of SU's younger players were pressed into action this season
Many of SU’s younger players were pressed into action this season

With so many key injuries this season, many young players have had to step up for the Orange, including 10 true freshman who have made their college football debuts, including Parris Bennett (linebacker), Antwan Cordy (cornerback), Jamal Custis (wide receiver), Zaire Franklin (linebacker), Steve Ishmael (wide receiver), AJ Long (quarterback), Cole Murphy (kicker), Ervin Philips (running back), Jonathan Thomas (linebacker) and Rodney Williams (safety).

Murphy is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top kicker.

Murphy has made 13-of-15 field goal attempts this season, including a pair of 50 yarders. He ranks 19th in the nation and fourth among freshmen in field goal percentage (.846) and has been perfect on kicks inside of 35 yards this season.

“A lot of our young players have been given an opportunity to get some snaps,” second-year head coach Scott Shafer said. “We will get a chance to take a closer look at these guys in the offseason. They have had to go from playing on scout team to playing in real games. ”

Here’s hoping all of this experience helps in the future.

» Related: Football seniors take one final bow at Carrier Dome

39,331 Fans…Really

The announced attendance for Saturday’s game was 39,331 fans. Hardly. By comparison, the SU-Duke basketball game had 35,466 fans. Those Syracuse fans in attendance did see a pretty good football game…minus the fourth quarter meltdown.

And, by the way, Syracuse finished 1-5 at the Dome this season. It is just the fourth season ever that the Orange has won just one game at home (1982, 2005, 2007). So much for home field advantage. But hey, it has been a tough year.

“Thanks to all the fans who showed up today too,” Shafer said. “I appreciate everyone in the community who has stood by these kids in the course of this difficult season.”

» Related: Syracuse loses to Duke, drops to 3-7

How About That Soccer Team

The men’s soccer team earned the No. 1 ranking in the NSCAA poll for the first time in school history on Nov. 4. The Orange has been ranked in the top five for five straight weeks dating back to Oct. 7. Before 2014, the Orange’s highest previous ranking was sixth during the 1984 season. Men’s soccer is the fifth Syracuse program since 2012 to top the polls, joining men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse and field hockey.

The Orange (14-2-1) play host to the Duke Blue Devils (9-8-1) in an ACC Championship quarterfinal match on Sunday. Syracuse earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament after finishing with a 5-1-2 conference record and claiming a share of the Atlantic Division title. The seventh-seeded Blue Devils are making their first trip to Syracuse. Duke defeated NC State by a score of 1-0 on Wednesday in one of the two ACC first-round games.

The winner of the Syracuse-Duke match will play either Louisville or North Carolina in the ACC semifinals on Friday, Nov. 14 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

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About Judy Salamone 30 Articles
For 18 years, Judy was Editor and Publisher of The Big Orange/The Juice print publication. Judy is currently a freelance editor and writer and has covered Syracuse University athletics since 1988. She is a graduate of Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, New York.