Syracuse’s offense in its 29-9 win over Ohio looked like an attack that former Orange lineman Zack Chibane was very familiar with.
Chibane, a three-year starter at guard who blocked for three separate 1,000-yard rushers, liked what he saw, and broke down SU’s revamped offensive line on The Juice on the Cuse Podcast presented by SNY.tv.
“The guys up front, they were getting after it,” Chibane said. “One of the things is seeing helmets moving vertically off the football once the ball is snapped. I was seeing that in the opener, and that was reflected in the stat line. It was great to see SU get back to that effective rushing attack.”
The Orange was run heavy in the win, rushing for 283 yards on the ground compared with just 100 yards through the air.
The ratio of 44 rushes to 18 passes harkened back to Chibane’s time, when Doug Marrone led the Orange to two bowl wins.
In Chibane’s final game at Syracuse, Prince-Tyson Gulley rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns as the Orange defeated West Virginia, 38-14, in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl.
“Midway through that (2012) season, we realized we had something special here,” Chibane said. “We were putting up 40 points against nationally ranked teams. To look up at the scoreboard and see 40, 45-plus points, that was amazing.”
Perhaps Syracuse can get to that point again. Sean Tucker rushed for 181 yards, the most since Gulley’s gaudy performance.
That was in no small part due to the offensive line, which is, for the most part, healthy after a disastrous 2020. Things were so dire last year that the Orange had to convert fullback Chris Elmore to guard.
But head coach Dino Babers spent the offseason upgrading the line, and it showed.
“It was really exciting to see that rushing attack,” Chibane said. “A lot of the alumni pine for the time when Syracuse was lining up and pounding the ball 60 times per game, back when offenses in college football were a lot simpler and less complex. It was great to see some of that old school football.”
After Syracuse, Chibane went to camp with the Buffalo Bills, following Marrone, and made it to the final round of cuts before he was released. He had several more workouts with NFL teams after that, but decided to retire from football and head to law school.
Chibane started at Brooklyn Law School and after his 1L year, and earned grades that allowed him to transfer to Harvard Law School.
Since then, he’s clerked for a federal judge in Manhattan, and is currently a litigation associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, one of the world’s top law firms.
“I’ve been practicing law now for just over four years,” Chibane said. “But it feels like yesterday that I was playing in the second Pinstripe Bowl against West Virginia.”
He still keeps a close eye on Syracuse football, and has high hopes for the team, and the offensive line.
“I think (the offensive line) turned over a new leaf,” Chibane said. “And the Ohio game suggests that they have a chip on their shoulder and they’re ready to prove some folks wrong.”
He left with this advice for the current group of offensive linemen.
“First and foremost, (Syracuse football is) known as being a gritty, aggressive, physical team, even to a fault,” Chibane said. “We relish in that. Even if you make a mistake, if you make it at 100 miles per hour, I would be okay with that as a coach. It’s about the effort and not being scared to make mistakes.”
Afterward, editor in chief Brad Bierman calls in to preview Syracuse’s Week 2 matchup with Rutgers.