Syracuse Football Training Camp Position Preview: Offensive Line

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Projected starters

Matthew Bergeron (LT): Bergeron has started all 12 games at left tackle in the 2021 season and 28 consecutive games in the last three. The Orange are averaging four yards per carry on their left tackle, good for the highest in the ACC according to ESPN Advanced Stats. If Bergeron continues his success, it could open up even more opportunities for the running game.

Kalan Ellis (LG): The Hawaiian has played nine games with just five starts in his debut campaign. At 6-foot-6 and 390 pounds, Ellis finds himself among the tallest linemen on a depth chart that already has plenty of size and skill. The second was placed at left guard with Chris Bleich out for the final four games of last season. If Bleich isn’t 100% at the start of camp or can’t stay healthy, Ellis could move to guard straight based on the performance of Dakota Davis to tackle.

Carlos Vettorello (C): Vettorello played the first eight games of the season before suffering a season-ending injury at Virginia Tech. Previously Vettorello had been the starting center for every game in 2020 and three contests in 2019. once the season has started.

Chris Bleich (RG): With the wait for a starting spot, Bleich was a huge factor in the success of the racing game throughout the first half of the season. The biggest question for Bleich is staying healthy. If he can stay in uniform, the 6-foot-6, 335-pound redshirt junior should help the running game be a threat in the ACC.

Dakota Davis (RT): After missing the first two games of the season, Dakota Davis has made nine starts in the last 10 games of the year. Davis’ return — and the weeks that followed — helped Sean Tucker lead all of college football through the rush years in Week 9. His presence on the inside at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds will be imperative in the continued success of the run-blocking.

Depth

Josh Ilaoa: Ilaoa only started in one game last year against Pitt. The second was the back-up option at center for much of the season for Airon Servais, but with a healthy return from Vettorello, he would need injury or poor play to slot into a starting spot at the center or guard.

Darius Tisdale: The 6-5 redshirt senior spent time primarily as a guard in the eight games he saw on the court last season, but missed four games through injury after the win at Florida State. With the right side of the line potentially playing musical chairs early in the season, look for Tisdale to make starts at both right guard and tackle.

Jakob Bradford: The JUCO transfer saw the pitch in just two games in the 2021 season. At 6-5 with lateral speed and agility, Bradford should get his chance to play here and there. Could see punctual departures on the right side.

Anthony Red: Red hasn’t played much since joining Orange. A few appearances against Ohio and UAlbany in September make up his resume at Syracuse for now. But with line coach Mike Schmidt, Red can work their way into a replacement option for Bergeron at left tackle.

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Wil Froumy: As a redshirt junior who hasn’t played many games, Froumy has a steep mountain to climb this season. But his athleticism at 6-6 and his weight loss from last season will bode well for the linemen.

Garth Barclay: At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, Barclay’s height could make him an attractive option for the coaching staff this season. Although he didn’t see the pitch last season, with his height there is always a chance.

young nucleus

The players listed above give Syracuse a pretty deep bucket of options to choose from at the end of training camp. But this group has a plethora of talent waiting in the wings. Mark Petry missed all of 2021 due to injury, but played 10 games as a reserve lineman and in the PAT/field goal unit.

Enrique Cruz was the best player in Syracuse’s 2021 recruiting class, which could earn him a few early-season appearances on his rating alone. Others include Wes Hoeh, Austyn Kauhi, Tyler Magnuson, Mark Petry who all get the opportunity to prove themselves in training camp.

Consistency

Prior to last season, many viewed Syracuse’s offensive line as one of the biggest problems for the Orange. The 34 sacks allowed by the o-line in 2021 can certainly help bolster that argument for this season. But there’s also an argument to be made that they have the potential to be in the top half of the ACC to make the run easier.

Sean Tucker finished fourth last season with 1,496 rushing yards, breaking Joe Morris’ season record and set another program record with seven straight 100-yard games. None of this would have been possible without the offensive line doing its job. Overview: If the line can stay healthy, there’s no reason their consistency could create plenty of opportunities for Tucker and Shrader to beat the ground game in 2022.

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