Syracuse spring wrap

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
6:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 5-7
2011 conference record: 1-6 (T-7)

Returning starters: Offense: 5; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
QB Ryan Nassib, WR Alec Lemon, WR Marcus Sales OT Justin Pugh, LB Marquis Spruill, S Shamarko Thomas

Key losses
DE Chandler Jones, DE Mikhail Marinovich, RB Antwon Bailey, TE Nick Provo, S Phillip Thomas

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Antwon Bailey (1,051 yards)
Passing: Ryan Nassib* (250-of-415 for 2,685 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs)
Receiving: Alec Lemon* (834 yards)
Tackles: Phillip Thomas (82)
Sacks: Chandler Jones (4.5)
Interceptions: Phillip Thomas (6)

Spring answers

1. Ryan Nassib at QB: Coach Doug Marrone hinted that he wanted some competition at quarterback, particularly with Ashton Broyld joning the team. But Nassib is the entrenched starter going into the fall. Though the offense didn't play well in the spring game, Syracuse is best served at having its most experienced offensive player taking the snaps. He will have the luxury of Marcus Sales returning. Now he needs some better protection up front.

2. Sales is back: With Lemon on the sideline because of an injury, Sales seized his opportunity to show what he can do after sitting out last season. He is listed as the starter at one of the receiver spots and had a solid spring, hoping to pick up his play from where he left off in the Pinstripe Bowl against Kansas State.

3. Inside presence: One of the more intriguing competitions in the spring was at nose tackle, after Deon Goggins was moved to defensive end in the spring. Cory Boatman is listed ahead of Eric Crume on the post-spring depth chart, although competition is expected to continue into the fall.

Fall questions

1. Injuries: Syracuse had a large number of players, particularly starters, either sit out the spring or get injured during practice. Marrone has not commented much on their availability for the fall. So now we wait and see whether Syracuse will have projected starters Alec Lemon, Justin Pugh, Marquis Spruill and Keon Lyn back in time for the start of practice.

2. Broyld's role: We saw only brief glimpses of how Syracuse plans to use the dynamic athlete during the spring. The bigger question is: What is his role going to be in the fall? He is listed at running back on the post-spring depth chart, but there should be opportunities for him as a Wildcat quarterback or to line up in the slot. Syracuse needs to use his athleticism to help improve its big plays.

3. Defensive line: Several junior college transfers are coming in the fall to help, but building depth and finding good replacements for Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich on the defensive line remain a priority. Syracuse struggled mightily up front last season, an area that should be a point of emphasis this fall.

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