On Friday night Syracuse hosted their annual spring Orange & Blue Game.
With now five months to go until the season opener, here are the key takeaways from the Blue team’s 28-7 win over the Orange team in Syracuse’s spring game.
#1: QB Justin Lamson asserts himself
Syracuse’s presumptive starter at quarterback, Garrett Shrader, was a healthy scratch for Friday’s game. In a move that shed light on who his primary backup will be, head coach Dino Babers inserted redshirt freshman Justin Lamson with the first string offense.
Lamson looked comfortable, and completed 7 of 10 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a crisp 75 yard deep ball to Damien Alford.
Still, Lamson showed some of his youth when he mishandled a snap early in the first half.
“He has been around for a while,” Babers said. “He understands the players and the personnel. He is doing a really good job, especially for a young kid.”
Lamson also showed he wasn’t afraid to tuck the ball and run, displaying his strength on the ground.
SU’s two other scholarship quarterbacks, Dan Villari and JaCobian Morgan, each had an opportunity to work with the second string offense against the first string defense. But it was clear that Lamson showed the most promise throwing the ball.
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#2: All eyes on the defensive line
Syracuse lost all of its major contributors, including three starters, from last year’s defensive line.
It means that, barring a portal transfer, the Orange will be playing an inexperienced defensive line this fall.
But two freshmen on the defensive line eased some worries.
Denis Jaquez Jr. and Francois Nolton Jr. each enjoyed strong performances. Jacquez beat offensive lineman Enrique Cruz for a sack on Lamson, while Nolton forced a fumble later in the scrimmage.
Behind them, linebacker Mekhi Mason and defensive back Ja’Had Carter also enjoyed standout performances.
#3: Plenty of new faces
As we mentioned earlier, Shrader was a healthy scratch. He joined several other first stringers on offense that didn’t play on Friday night. Among them included All-American running back Sean Tucker, fullback/TE Chris Elmore, and OL Matt Bergeron.
Without Tucker, freshman LeQuint Allen, New Mexico State transfer Juwaun Price, and sophomore walk-on Mario Escobar all took snaps.
Each enjoyed what was an obvious difference was in the playcalling. Syracuse changed offensive coordinators in the offseason, and new OC Robert Anae showed much more balance in his run/pass plays.
SU even showed some razzle-dazzle, something that was missing last year under departed OC Sterlin Gilbert.
On one such play, Allen took a handoff but ended up throwing to Morgan in the flat for a first down.
Friday night offered freshmen like Allen an opportunity to play in front of a Carrier Dome crowd for the first time.
“We have some new guys but I think they fit right in,” Babers said. “We are all getting to know each other and we are all trying for the same goal, to get our work done.”