SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse football returned from Fort Drum and got a practice in Saturday morning. During the portion open to the media, CuseNation.com observed several notable items.
Naesean Howard is back. After not traveling with the team to Fort Drum and being suspended indefinitely after violating training rules, the true freshman safety was back with the team and practiced in full.
Steve Ishmael worked with the second team offense. During certain drills, Ishmael was with the second team. Granted it was a spread, three or four receiver set, but it shows that the true freshman receiver is poised to contribute this season.
Offense worked on plays inside the five. The offense worked on a few run and pass plays close to the goal line on Saturday. They did not line up against the defense, but this was about tempo, execution, and understanding of the plays called. Offensive coordinator George McDonald praised their tempo multiple times during the drill.
Jamal Custis worked with two groups. During the offensive drill mentioned above, Custis was lined up as a receiver. However, when the team split up into individual drills, he worked with the tight ends.
Defensive backs worked on using the boundary. The defensive backs worked on a drill where they used their coverage skills to move the receiver out of bounds. Assistant Fred Reed was working on footwork and body placement during this drill with the various members of the secondary.
Receivers worked on blocking. The wide receivers spend a portion of the practice we saw working on blocking technique and physicality within their blocks. It seemed to go pretty well as the receivers were more than willing to hit the blocking pads hard.
Eric Crume and Ryan Sloan participated in drills. Both Crume and Sloan were brought along slowly due to minor injuries. On Saturday, both fully participated in defensive line drills. A good sign that they will be ready to go when the season starts.
Defensive line worked on stance and technique. The defensive linemen were working on explosion off the ball. Assistant Tim Daoust routinely told his group to keep their arms in during the drill. He worked extensively on hand placement and hand work when coming out of their stance.
Quarterbacks worked on their drop. The quarterbacks did not do a lot of extensive work during the portion open to the media. However, they did work on their drop back and footwork.
Linebackers worked on engaging. The linebackers spent most of the time engaging with each other and trying to shed blockers. The freshmen seemed very comfortable during this drill and attacked it with full effort.
Bobby Acosta is very vocal. The tight ends coach was very vocal during practice. When working with the tight ends on individual drills, he shouted "why aren't we running?" a few times. He also continued to say to his group "we won't settle for average. I will not coach average."
Special teams work. The team did a few field goal drills. During that portion, Ryan Norton was the most accurate and displayed the best leg.