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The Daily Orange’s unofficial positional breakdown: No. 2: Running backs

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first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on August 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1 Football beat writers David Wilson, Stephen Bailey and Trevor Hass are counting down the days until Syracuse football opens its season against Penn State on Aug. 31. They’ll show you what you can expect from each position as the Orange moves toward its Atlantic Coast Conference debut, with the top position showcased in the DO’s annual season preview guide to be released on Aug. 29.No. 10: Kick returners/punt returnersNo. 9: The secondaryNo. 8: The defensive lineNo. 7: Tight endsAdvertisementThis is placeholder textNo. 6: The quarterbacksNo. 5: Wide receiversNo. 4: Offensive lineNo. 3: Kickers and puntersPrince-Tyson Gulley would shake his dreads on the field before every game last season. It was a superstition that led to the best season of career.This summer he shaved his head.Now, with Syracuse entering the Atlantic Coast Conference for its first season, the biggest question concerning the running backs may be what his new good-luck charm might be.That’s how good the Orange backfield is.It could be the most potent in the ACC as Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley collectively totaled more than 2,000 yards last season. Now after a summer of speed training, with a faster offensive line and joined by complementary backs in George Morris II and Devante McFarlane, the duo is poised for an even better 2013 campaign.Key returning playersThis is the only position the Orange has no turnover at. Smith ran for 1,171 yards and three touchdowns in 2012. Gulley scampered for 830 and nine.But the real breakout game came when Syracuse trounced West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl 38-14. Gulley dipped and dashed for a career-high 213 yards and two touchdowns, overshadowing Smith’s 152.Each back is known for a specific skill set—Gulley the speedy and shifty back able to cut runs back in our outside, Smith the downhill grinder with bursts of speed and a low center of gravity.But running backs coach DeAndre Smith said both will be used as all-around backs this season. And Gulley’s all for that.“Jerome has different things that he hasn’t shown anybody within his game just as I do too,” Gulley said. “People see that he’s a downhill runner, but he actually can make a couple of moves. As well as me making moves, I can run downhill as well.”Reasons for optimismGulley and Jerome Smith have proven themselves as the best offensive players on the team, save maybe center Macky MacPherson.And after a summer of speed work, DeAndre Smith has the backs poised for more outside runs this year.“He made us trust our speed,” Jerome Smith said. “If I ever get lazy or want to cut it back and not trust my speed, he’ll take me out immediately and let me know, ‘You need to go outside, it’s an outside play.’”Smith even got a late redshirt to become a junior. He may decide to come back for another season after this year. So the whole position is really a reason for optimism.First-year offensive coordinator George McDonald should give each back 15-20 carries per game with an unproven starter under center, whether it be Drew Allen or Terrel Hunt.Reasons for concernWith a depleted passing game, many teams will pack the defensive box with as many as eight players. The running backs are good, but without the quarterbacks’ ability to keep a defense honest, it won’t matter.Short, quick passes to H-back Ashton Broyld and tight end Beckett Wales will be key. Wide receivers Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming and Jeremiah Kobena will also have to step up on the outside.If the Orange can develop a couple consistent, legitimate outside threats, opponents will be forced to play a relatively balanced package and the SU backs will have room to operate.The verdictThe Syracuse offense is centered around its running game. And it should be.Smith, Gulley and even Morris and McFarlane have the ability to break big runs on any play. This group will turn heads in the ACC.Grade: A-Pick up The Daily Orange’s football guide tomorrow to read up on the top position on our list. Commentslast_img read more

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