Syracuse offense to feature more outside runs

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on August 28, 2013 at 1:16 am Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1 Jerome Smith put his sweatpants on and walked away from the practice field after clocking a 4.48 40-yard dash.“I’m done,” Smith said. He had just run the fastest time of any of the running backs on test day this summer. But turning to leave he saw Prince-Tyson Gulley warming up again.Moments later, Smith watched as Gulley ran a 4.48. “Oh man, I’ve got to go again,” Smith said.So he took his sweats back off, ran another 4.48 and began to walk away again. This time Smith saw George Morris II and Devante McFarlane warming up after three tries each.Morris ran a 4.46.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The thing we couldn’t do last year is really get outside and take some long runs to the house,” Smith said. “So that’s what we really worked on this summer, is pushing ourselves in sprints, and finishing sprints.”Expect more outside runs from Smith, Gulley and the rest of the running backs this season as Syracuse has adjusted its offensive scheme to fit its faster backfield and offensive line. The Orange will run more pitches and pulling plays, straying away from the up-tempo style, hurry-up sets and heavy doses of between-the-tackle runs the team featured last season.That approach often limited the packages in which Smith or Gulley could break outside for a bigger gain.“We were a very heavy inside-zone team last year and sometimes it hurt us because we couldn’t get the ball outside,” center Macky MacPherson said.Smith logged 1,171 yards and three touchdowns and Gulley 830 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but after a summer of speed work and with a better-suited offensive line, Smith expects them to be even more dominant this year — especially on the edge.“I think we can get out there and stretch out some defenses,” he said.Running backs coach DeAndre Smith emphasized that the changes in personnel and play-calling puts Jerome Smith and Gulley in the perfect situation to succeed. He expects each to average five yards per carry and four after contact.Last year each back was limited to certain packages, DeAndre Smith said. This year they’ll both be available for use in every situation.“I think what they were doing last year with the speed and the tempo and things like that, it didn’t allow them to branch out, so to speak, with some other runs,” DeAndre Smith said.Another factor in the improved outside running game is the Orange’s new offensive line coach, Pat Perles.DeAndre Smith remembers sitting down for Perles’ interview alongside head coach Scott Shafer and the rest of the offensive staff.Perles announced cutting as one of his main focuses — training his front five to take down linebackers at the second level. Perfect for the outside explosions DeAndre Smith and Co. had planned.The cutting attribute, especially on pulling plays to the outside, can turn five-yard gains into 25-yard gains.“Sometimes you go hit them, try to knock them out and sometimes you just take their legs out,” sophomore guard Rob Trudo said. “Either way you get the job done and get some yards.”Perles has been drilling the offensive linemen on cutting almost every day. He’ll stand 10 yards away from a single-file row of them and roll a three-foot red ball diagonally toward them. The goal is for each player to dive around the outside of the ball, swinging his inside elbow in front of the ball.DeAndre Smith and both running backs have noticed an improvement in the linemen’s cutting ability.“They’re doing very good at getting to the linebackers faster and it’s allowing our reads to be very easy,” Gulley said. “So when we get to the line we can just worry about the next thing that we have to do, which is the two safeties that we have to worry about.”With Syracuse’s season opener against Penn State just three days away, the running backs and linemen are eager to showcase their speed and agility against another defense. No more taking-it-easy cutting down a linebacker. No more playing half-speed.When asked how he thinks the run game will fare against “Linebacker U,” a nickname for Penn State, Jerome Smith smiled.“We’ll put that to the test,” he said. Commentslast_img