Today, the Syracuse University football team took another step toward a new season. The journey that began, as Head Coach Doug Marrone said, at the end of the last game, has reached another mile marker with The Opening of Fall camp.
After the team's first practice of the Fall season, Marrone spoke on numerous hot topics concerning the Orange squad.
When asked about incoming junior college transfers, Defensive Tackle Zian Jones and Defensive End Markus Pierce-Brewster, getting out on the field for the first time, Marrone responded, "They're here. They're practicing. I think it's a little bit, probably, tougher transition for them and they have some work ahead of ‘em and we'll see how it goes. You guys will be able to see some of the stuff that we're doing, and it's just all a matter of how they progress during this preseason."
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line has three open positions. Left Tackle Justin Pugh is rehabbing from a shoulder injury, while Right Guard Andrew Tiller and Right Tackle Michael Hay vacated their positions upon the end of their eligibility. Offensive Lineman Sean Hickey's name has consistently been mentioned by Marrone as someone who would be asked to step in for Pugh. Today, Marrone shared how he responded to having Hickey out on the field.
"I told him, I said, ‘This might be the longest you've ever practiced,' since he's been here, so I joked with him about that," remarked Marrone. "That (Hickey) will be a long work in progress. You don't just go from not playing for two years to go in there and play. That's very, very difficult to do. I mean, he's been out for quite a bit of time and we're excited to have him back and we're excited to work with him."
With positions on the offensive line open for competition, the player or players that the linemen will be blocking for in the backfield is also unknown. When asked if Running Back Jerome Smith picked up from where he left off in the Spring practices, where he was spoken of positively, Marrone took a broader look at the backfield.
"There's a lot of running backs, and it's difficult to give a good assessment of it," Marrone stated. "I know that Jerome will work extremely hard, but there's competition back there as well as the other positions. We'll see as we go, but today, to say one kid was better than the other, I just look at the thing as a whole, not specifically. Right now, no one has really separated themselves from the group, so I think everyone, not just Jerome Smith, has a lot of work to do and there will be a lot of competition in this camp."
As competitions continue throughout Fall camp and into the season, Marrone will assess the team as they go. As far as his view on the Orange as they are today, Marrone responded by saying, "I feel, right now, that we've got a long way to go. We've got a lot of work to put in. We got a lot of reps to get. We're not where we wanna be right now."
To take in all of Marrone's words, a free video is available HERE.