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New Syracuse Orange on Full Display at AmeriCU Spring Game

LeQuint Allen Jr
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

At the AmeriCU 2024 spring game, Syracuse Orange head coach Fran Brown vowed to deliver excitement. He guaranteed intense tackles and exciting big plays, much more than just an overhyped practice seen in years past.

“We’re gonna set it up where you’re going to be able to see action,” Brown said at Ensley Athletic Center.

Brown and his team certainly lived up to expectations. With help from former SU football players Zaire Franklin and John Lally acting as guest coaches, the two teams put on an entertaining show for fans at the JMA Wireless Dome. The audience witnessed deep passes, impressive runs, and even a fumblerooski play executed by offensive lineman Mark Petry that gained four yards.

The first-team offense and second-team defense, known as the white team, outscored the blue team, consisting of the first-team defense and second-team offense, with a final score of 31-10. The newly hired coach, Brown, has brought a lot of excitement to Syracuse and it showed in the performance of their newest big-name transfers and returning players. Also, during the game, they secured their third commitment for the class of 2026 as four-star running back D’Antae Sheffey.

Kyle McCord Makes his Orange Debut

Out of all the players that joined the Orange through the transfer portal, McCord was undoubtedly the most crucial addition. Therefore, it was only fitting that he was the sole SU player sporting an orange jersey on the field. The crowd cheered him on with a standing ovation as he made his debut in the game. 

McCord made his first pass of the night, firing a bullet to LeQuint Allen Jr. over the middle for a gain of five yards. He later connected with Zeed Haynes and Trebor Pena, two receivers he had mentioned having great chemistry with just days before. 

The former Ohio State player also displayed his composure in the pocket, standing tall and unfazed by oncoming defenders. On a crucial 4th-and-3 play, McCord found Pena on a post route for the first down. And when faced with another 4th-and-3 situation, McCord once again maintained his cool and completed a precise throw to Darrell Gill Jr., bringing the team inside the 5-yard line. 

McCord made two unsuccessful attempts to connect with Haynes on long passes down the right side of the field. However, in the second quarter, McCord finally found Haynes open and hit him in stride for a 38-yard touchdown completion. McCord would only play the first half, but his appearance gave the Dome's spectators something to cheer about. 

RB by Committee

After a season of being the main offensive target, Allen Jr. wasted no time and rushed for 15 yards up the middle on his first run. However, he quickly felt discomfort in his right foot and was taken out to be examined by two SU trainers.  He limped in pain before eventually making his way back to the game. 

Despite the injury scare, Allen Jr. continued to look un-phased throughout the night. Following McCord's successful pass to Gill Jr. on fourth down, Allen Jr. scored the first touchdown of the game. In the second quarter, he took the handoff and displayed patience allowing the hole to develop. Then he put on the afterburners and burst through for a 40-yard touchdown run, his 2nd of the night. 

Allen's backup, freshman Yasin Willis, also had a successful evening for the white team. He scored a touchdown in the red zone during the second quarter. Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound back, was initially stopped at the three-yard line, but kept his legs moving and crossed the line for six. 

“We’ll have thunder (and) lightning with both of those guys being able to play,” Brown said. 

Blue Team Standouts

The blue team may have been blown out, but there were standout players on their sideline. Linebacker Marlowe Wax stood out the most, with his dominating presence. Wax’s football IQ was on full display as he was making plays on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Buffalo Transfer Devin Grant nearly had a pick-six off McCord. In zone coverage, he read the QB’s eyes and jumped the out route. Unfortunately, the ball hit him in the hands, and he dropped it. The announcers joked that is why they play defense.

Fellow defenders, like four-star recruit King Joseph Edwards, had a highlight play where he forced a strip sack, giving Ty Gordon the chance to pick up the fumble. 

Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, the backup quarterback from the 2023 season, scored the blue team’s only touchdown on a 10-yard rush after eluding a collapsing pocket. Braden Davis, who saw some snaps at receiver in the first half, became the blue team’s quarterback for the second half, leading the group down to the 5-yard line before getting stopped. 

2024 Syracuse Orange Outlook

It was a good first showing. To have a player under center with the Caliber of Kyle McCord is a huge first step. Orange was without their top target Orande Gadsden II, a TE that lineup outside and be a nightmare for defenses to match up to. With the emergence of Pena, Hatcher, Gill and Haynes. The Orange have an abundance of receivers for McCord to target next season.

The Orange defense was a big question mark in 2023. Giving up over 25 points per game. With the return of Marlowe Wax in the middle, and incoming transfers the defense should only be much improved. Only time will tell as they have a brand-new coaching staff. The one thing you can take away from this is the ability for Fran Brown to recruit, he has given a boost of talent to both sides of the ball.


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