Fran Brown and Kyle McCord bring excitement to Spring Game

Brown and McCord bring excitement to Spring Game

Over 16,000 fans got a first look at the program’s new direction under Brown and McCord.

Orange vs Blue
The NewsHouse Staff
Quarterback Kyle McCord passed for 242 yards in his debut with Syracuse football at the annual spring game at JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

An anxious crowd patiently waited as more and more fans began to fill the JMA Wireless Dome to get a look at one of the most anticipated Syracuse football Spring Games in recent memory.

Orange fans got the opportunity to see the new Syracuse football squad in action on Saturday at the AmeriCU Spring Game. Over 16,000 fans showed up to set a new record attendance for the game.

Out of the tunnel, new head coach Fran Brown walked the team out for stretches and warmups, trying his best to place the team in a game-like mindset.

Orange vs Blue
Fans got the chance to see new head coach Fran Brown’s system and recruits at the annual spring game.

The Blue team, or the second-string offense, went three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, before new Syracuse quarterback Kyle McCord went on the field.

McCord, a senior, knows a thing or two about playing in loud environments. He transferred from Ohio Stadium, and played in pivotal away games against Notre Dame and Michigan. So, when McCord entered the game, the roar from the crowd was nothing new.

The quarterback continued to look at ease during his first drive. McCord was past midfield, nearing field goal range. After a few missed connections, Syracuse was on fourth down with three yards to go. McCord stepped into the pocket and launched the ball down the right sideline. Junior wide receiver Darrell Gill Jr. went up over two defenders for a contested catch that set up a LeQuint Allen touchdown.

Orange vs Blue
The NewsHouse Staff
Returning star running back LeQuint Allen Jr. makes one of his two touchdowns at the annual spring game.

Another highlight for McCord came after bouncing back from a near Devin Grant pick six.

McCord was able to find a wide receiver in the middle of the field to set up a rushing touchdown.

New offensive coordinator Jeff Nixon’s offense was pass heavy and tailored to McCord’s strengths as a pro-style quarterback. This differs from last year’s offense, which was tailored to Garrett Shrader’s strength as a runner.

Another difference was the offense’s aggression. The Orange threw deep and went for it on fourth downs.

“You know the game of football says go for it when you’re on the other side,” said Brown.

While the returners were the story of the offseason, the newcomers stepped up. Despite bringing back Allen, Brown also has plans for the young running backs. Freshman Yasin Willis scored a touchdown and had several explosive runs.

“He’s just a big athletic kid,” said Brown. “We’re going to have thunder and lightning with both of those guys being able to play, and we got another kid right behind him that can play too.”

While running back figures to be a strength heading into the season, wide receiver was a question mark. With redshirt junior Orande Gadsen II still recovering from surgery and Damien Alford transferring to Utah, Syracuse is without its top receivers.

Spring standout and explosive returner Trebor Pena looked to be McCord’s favorite target in short and intermediate routes. Brown is familiar with Pena from when he coached at Temple.

Orange vs Blue
The NewsHouse Staff
Trebor Pena, seen here stiff-arming Alijah Clark, could be a big piece for the Orange if he continues to improve.

“That kid (Trebor), he committed at Temple, I recruited him,” said Brown. “Then, he flipped to come here…It’s pretty cool now I get to coach him.”

If he continues to improve coming off a down season, the redshirt junior could be one of the top targets for the Orange. Redshirt freshman Zeed Haynes also figures to be a big part of the receiving core, as he showcased his speed on a 38-yard touchdown.

For the defense, new arrivals made their presence known. Buffalo junior transfer Devin Grant figures to step into a lead role with key returns like senior Marlowe Wax, senior Justin Barron and redshirt junior Duce Chestnut. Freshman KingJoseph Edwards also created a third down strip sack on quarterback Carlos Del RioWilson.

For the new era of Syracuse football, fans have a lot to cheer for.

Orange vs Blue
Jaden Hart is taken down by the Orange defense at the annual spring game.
Orange vs Blue
Despite depth at running back, LeQuint Allen Jr. proved he’s still a first option at the spring game.