AmeriCU Orange and Blue Game closes out the Spring football season
Syracuse, N.Y. -- Syracuse quarterback Justin Lamson took advantage of Garrett Shrader’s absence to show what the Orange has waiting in the wings.
In his first substantial public performance as a Syracuse quarterback, the redshirt freshman started the Orange’s spring game at quarterback on Friday night and looked excellent, delivering on his dual-threat reputation by showcasing an accurate arm and an aptitude for running the ball.
Lamson led Syracuse’s first-team offense (minus some key pieces) against Syracuse’s defensive reserves for the first half of a scrimmage, delivering a performance sure to create optimism about his abilities and, perhaps, some distance between him and Syracuse’s quarterback options outside of Shrader.
Lamson appeared comfortable piloting the Syracuse offense -- obviously simplified for any ACC coaches recording the night’s festivities on their televisions -- and he was both on-target regularly and quick to deliver the football.
Shrader, Syracuse’s incumbent starter, did not participate. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said he tweaked his hamstring at the end of a long run last weekend. He had been wearing sweatpants, rather than traditional practice clothing, while participating in practice drills that were open to the media this past week, an indication he was nursing a mild injury.
While he didn’t showcase Shrader’s ability to break tackles or bowl over defenders, Lamson, who is listed at 215 pounds, did display a willingness to run the ball hard and agility and quickness when he did.
Syracuse’s emphasis throughout the spring has been growing its passing game and Friday night was no different, with passes by Lamson called on the first four plays of the scrimmage. Syracuse sat four key offensive players in Shrader, Sean Tucker, Matt Bergeron and Chris Elmore, and was also down two more offensive linemen due to injuries.
Lamson spent most of the night delivering short throws to wide receivers but took advantage when the opportunity to throw deep presented itself, hitting Damien Alford for a 75-yard touchdown pass and Umari Hatcher for a 36-yard pass.
Obvious mistakes were rare, coming when Lamson failed to handle a low snap on a 3rd down play and an earlier play when he missed high, turning an easy catch into one that was too difficult for Hatcher to make.
Lamson led the Syracuse offense on three touchdown drives during the scrimmage while Syracuse’s other key quarterbacks who saw action, Dan Villari and JaCobian Morgan, rotated possessions with the Second Team offense and failed to find the end zone, as the projected starters dominated on both sides of the ball.
If you want to know which offensive players Syracuse doesn’t feel like it can go without this season, the healthy scratch list is a good place to start.
Four of Syracuse’s top offensive players missed the spring game, with three sitting as healthy scratches. Those who did not participate included Shrader, Tucker, Bergeron and Elmore.
Shrader, Tucker and Bergeron all did interviews with the ACC Network during breaks in the action.
Other Syracuse players who did not play included Chris Bleich (recovering from hip surgery), Kalan Ellis (sprained ankle), Rob Hanna (separated elbow) and Cornell Perry were absent. Babers noted that defensive back Justin Barron did not play as the coaches bring him along slowly from offseason back surgery.
Syracuse’s linebacking unit likes to consider itself among the best in the country and Stefon Thompson provided example of the group’s assortment of strengths.
Mikel Jones is a relentless tackler, running sideline-to-sideline. Marlowe Wax is a thunderous hitter. And Thompson provided a display of versatility, breaking up one pass in strong coverage and making another tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Defensive back Ja’Had Carter made the night’s best defensive play with an interception, while three early-enrollees who have been on the campus for only a few months made standout plays on defense.
Defensive lineman Denis Jaquez and linebacker Makhi Mason both made stops behind the line of scrimmage, while defensive end Francois Nolton Jr. delivered a hard hit to fourth-string quarterback Luke MacPhail to force the ball to pop out of his hand for a forced fumble.
Contact Chris Carlson anytime: Email | Twitter | 315-412-1639
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