|Photo by Jason Rostkowski|
There are now only 14 days until the Orange kickoff versus Wake Forest and begin the highly anticipated 2011 campaign. For SU to play up to its potential as a Big East title contender, its role players and stars will have to play well on a consistent basis. Strong safety Shamarko Thomas, receivers Van Chew and Alec Lemon and the offensive line are all a big part of the Orange’s success this year. However, these five players are the the most valuable on the 2011-2012 Syracuse football team.
#1 Antwon Bailey - Although Nassib is the QB, the offense will be heavily reliant on the production of Bailey. Bailey played Robin to Delone Carter’s Batman, but still managed 569 yards and a couple touchdowns. This year, Bailey will be the biggest offensive threat with his breakaway speed and shifty feet. His ability to open the field and wear down the opponents’ defense will dictate how successful the Orange will be.
#2 Ryan Nassib - Antwon Bailey can only do so much. Last year, Nassib eased into the lead position by providing stability, but he rarely had to make tough throws. This year, he’ll have more responsibility and freedom to create offense. If he can’t make the necessary throws, defenses will key into the running game.
#3 Chandler Jones - Jones could be the key to for the Orange defense. With the return of the Bash Bros (Phillip and Shamarko Thomas), coverage shouldn’t be the biggest issue. If Jones could penetrate through the backfield and pressure the opponents’ QB, the SU defense could be dominant.
#4 Phillip Thomas - Thomas has high aspirations for himself and his team. Despite a slight step back in the form of a broken jaw, Thomas will return in time and wreak havoc as a ballhawk. He simply makes plays. SU will need his athleticism and tackling ability to make a good run in the wide open Big East.
#5 Nick Provo - Provo had 33 receptions last year, good for third on the Orange, but wasn’t particularly effective in the red zone. Without the bruising Delone Carter, a new player will have to become the big touchdown threat. Provo, a 6’4” and 250 TE can be just that for the SU offense.