By Sean Fernandez
Like any other football team, it’ll all start up front for this year’s Syracuse Orange. The O-Line returns three starters from last season and needs to show some improvement if the offense is to regain some of the mojo it lost during the epic collapse of ’11.
Here’s an introduction to the offensive linemen that will see the field in 2012. Justin Pugh
was about as solid as they come last year for the Orange, starting every game at Left Tackle and earning First Team All-Big East Honors. Looking ahead to this year, Doug Marrone expects more of the same when he gets back on the field. Pugh was named to the Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award watch lists, both of which are given to the nation’s top offensive linemen. He’ll be faced with the task of protecting QB Ryan Nassib’s blind side and he will have to play at a high level for the offense to excel.
An upper-body has sidelined Pugh for the past few months, and it was announced by Coach Doug Marrone that he will miss the entire training camp period, as well. No one is exactly sure when he will return, but he will have to be on the field for the Orange offense to thrive.
Alongside Pugh on the left side of the O-Line is his fellow senior Zack Chibane.
He has started each and every game for the past two seasons, and is listed as the starting Left Guard on the post-spring depth chart. As long as he stays healthy, Chibane will have a big impact once again this year.
He recently discussed his goals and expectations for the upcoming season in an interview with NationOfOrange.Com
. After conducting the interview, it’s pretty clear that Chibane is focused on having a successful final season in a Syracuse uniform.
The Syracuse, NY native and grandson of Hall-of-Fame Coach Dick MacPherson, Junior Macky MacPherson
will return as the focal point of SU’s offensive line in 2012. He was named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List, which crowns the nation’s best center, so expectations are high for him.
Last year, he started all 12 games smack dab in the middle of the Syracuse offensive line, protecting Ryan Nassib from ferocious nose tackles attempting to take down Ryan Nassib. He did a pretty good job, and will once again be a leader for this unit, along with Pugh and Chibane.
One year after being redshirted, Ivan Foy
finds himself in contention for a starting spot on the SU O-Line. He is a 6’4” 318lb freshman from Brooklyn that currently sits atop the depth chart at RG, but there will be some competition when training camp opens.
If fully healed from the ACL tear he suffered last year, Sean Hickey
could see some action. Incoming freshman Omari Palmer
’s performance in the Upstate-Downstate All Star game got the attention of coaches, too, although he is a natural tackle.
If you haven’t heard much about Lou Alexander,
you’re not alone. He transferred from College of the Canyons (a JUCO located in California) for the spring semester of 2011, but he will see his first action this season.
Alexander spent a lot of time practicing at guard upon his arrival at Syracuse, but his impressive quickness gave him an opportunity to play tackle, as well. He is a versatile 6’4” 331lb offensive lineman that will likely start the year at Right Tackle, and could fill in elsewhere if needed.
Last, but not least comes Kristofer Curtis
. He is a redshirt freshman that will compete for playing time on the wide-open right side of the line. He is currently penciled in at Left Tackle, but that will change when Pugh is healthy (whenever that may be).
The Syracuse O-Line has the ability to be one of the best in the Big East, but the injury to Justin Pugh being more serious than we all thought throws a wrench into just about everything. They will now have their hands full trying to give Nassib time to throw and open up holes for the inexperienced orange backfield, and will now be anchored by Chibane and MacPherson.
The right side of the line will feature a group of newbies, and our All-American candidate LT is out for an unknown period of time. Those two storylines don't bode well for this unit, but they'll have to piece it together for as long as they can.