My 2022 SU Football Preview - Part 2: the Quarterbacks | Syracusefan.com

My 2022 SU Football Preview - Part 2: the Quarterbacks

SWC75

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QUARTERBACKS
Seniors: none
Juniors: #6 Garret Shrader 6-4 228
Sophomores: none
Freshman: #16 Carlos Del Rio-Wilson 6-2 232, #18 Luke MacPhail 6-4 206 (was 230 last year), #15 JaCobian Morgan (6-4 229), #12 Dan Villari (6-4, 237)
Out: #10 Justin Lamson 6-3 208 (was 220 last year) who looked great in the spring game but then got hurt and will be out for the season. He’ll try it again next year.


Takeaways from Syracuse’s spring game: Garrett Shrader’s hamstring tweak allows Justin Lamson to shine
GONE: Tommy DeVito, who would have been a senior and possibly the incumbent but who didn’t want to stay after losing his starting position to Shrader and transferred to Illinois where he is battling Rutgers transfer Art Sitkowski for the starting job.
Dillon Markiewicz who looked good in his high school films but who threw one incomplete pass in two years here. He went back to his home state to play for Texas State, (Formerly Southwest Texas State) in the Sun Belt Conference.

Covid impacted everything and college sports eligibility years are one of them. Throw in reshirt rules and immediate transfers and it’s hard to tell how many years of eligibility a player has left. The ‘eye test’ doesn’t help. Luke McPhail and Jacobian Morgan have been here for two years. McPhail has never played but Morgan has played in four games in two years. Dan Villari has been at Michigan for two years and played in four games, (the limit to retain redshirt status), last year. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson was at Florida for one year, during which he red-shirted and didn’t play. They are all freshmen, meaning they could play here through the 2025 season if they wanted to, (and were wanted). That plus Mr. Lamson would seem to lock up the position for years to come but they could all decide to transfer out if they can’t beat out Mr. Shrader, (although Villari and Del Rio-Wilson – I’ll call him DRW – would have to sit out a year wherever they went as the old transfer rules apply to a second transfer).

DeVito was the golden boy for Babers, his first quarterback recruit. He was going to be our Garopollo or Johnson. But he didn’t throw for 53TDs or for 46. In four years here he played in 26 games and completed 337 of 572 passes (58.9%) 3,866 yards 28TDs and 12 interceptions. I would have expected those numbers in a season, (and that would still have been far short of Garopollo and Johnson). He wasn’t much of a runner, although his totals include sacks, which the NCAA treats as rushing attempts. In those 26 games, Tommy rushed for 594 positive years but was thrown for 498 yards in losses for a net of just 96 yards and 4TDs. He may have just been an example of what can happen to a quarterback when he gets sacked too many times. The problem was a Swiss cheese offensive line that allowed him to be sacked more than any other quarterback in the country. He developed a reputation not being able to ‘feel the pressure’. I’m sure he felt plenty of it, but he didn’t show any knack for avoiding it. One virtue of Tommy is that he avoided turnovers. He had those 12 interceptions in 26 games. I was unable find his fumbles but I don’t remember too many. We were usually able to stay in games through the third quarter before falling behind with Tommy. In 2020, when he was replaced by Rex Culpepper and Morgan, turnovers became more of a factor and we were usually out of it by halftime. I would have liked him to stay after he lost his starting job to Shrader in case Shrader faltered, (as he eventually did), or got hurt but Tommy didn’t want to wait for that, so he transferred out. It will be interesting to see what he can do at Illinois – if they can protect him better than we did.

Enter Garrett Shrader. Like DeVito, he was a four star recruit coming out of high school. The 247 recruiting site, (which is a composite of the others), Tommy was rated the #327 recruit in the country, the 13th highest ‘pro-style’ (meaning he’s primarily a passer), quarterback. Garrett Shrader was #247 and the #7 ‘dual threat’ (meaning he can pass or run), QB. He’s a big, raw-boned guy who doesn’t mind contact but can motor away from defenders for big gains. His problem is getting the ball to his receivers consistently. He went to Mississippi State, where in 2019 he was a back-up QB for 10 games and completed 88 of 153 passes (57.5%) 1,170 yards for 8TDs and 5 interceptions. He also ran the ball 113 times for 587 yards (5.2) and 6TDs. But he wasn’t the type of thrower new coach Mike Leach wanted and Leach shifted him to receiver, where he was way down the depth chart, playing in one game and catching one pass. Now that is a situation where you want to look for greener pastures.

Dino, in the pre-season last year, kept talking about how he’s been an assistant coach, (OC/QB coach), for the 1998 Arizona team, which used two quarterbacks. Significantly, he said he had not been in favor of the plan but he went along with it and it worked well. Coaches get to take three players to ACC media Day, which is held before fall training camp opens and usually your #1 quarterback is one of them. Dino didn’t take a quarterback. DeVito started the first two games, a 29-9 road win over Ohio U. and a 7-13 home loss to Rutgers. Dino used the Albany game, (which we won 62-24), to give both men a shot. DeVito did fine, completing 6 of 9 for 147 yards and a TD while running for 28 yards in 5 carries. But Shrader was better: 11/15 for 190 yards and a score and 9 carries for 42 yards and 2TDs. Both had an interception. Dino waited until 15 minutes before the Liberty game, (they’d beaten us the year before), to pick his starter and went with Shrader. He made it clear that he intended it to be a permanent change. Tommy could still have changed because the situation could have changed on the next play but he decided to leave and it was Garrett Shrader’s team from then on.

Shrader wasn’t any great shakes against Liberty, going 6/15 for 77 yards and no scores. He ran for 53 yards on 16 carries and did score twice as we won. The reasons for Dino’s decision became clear in the next four games, three of which we lost by a field goal and the fourth of which Shrader won on the play of the year. Against Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech, (no chopped liver there), GS was 61 of 121, (50.4%) for 1,049 yards 6TDs, 2 picks while running for an incredible 495 yards, (6 vs. Clemson: 489 vs. the other three) in 74 runs, (6.7) and 8 scores. Sean Tucker ran for 524 yards and 7 scores in those games. They made an incredible 1-2 rushing punch and, even though Shrader’s completion percentage was low, his average completion, (17.2 yards), was high, as the defense had to commit to stopping what had become one of the best running games in the country. The Virginia Tech game was one of the greatest games an SU quarterback has ever had, including the winning score, which was the play of the year for SU, (in any sport):



Garrett had 410 yards total offense and ran or threw for 5 TDs in a 41-36 road win over an old rival that gave us a 4-3 record and got everybody wondering what bowl game we would be in. But they film the games and opposing coaches watch those films and they decided that, as great as Sean Tucker was, they had to focus on stopping Mr. Shrader. In the next three games, GS completed just 23 of 52 passes (44%) for just 174 yards and no scores while running for 191 yards on 53 carries (3.3) and two scores. We beat Boston College to go 5-3 but then lost badly at Louisville and North Carolina State. We still had a chance to even the record in the final game and GS played well (17/24 for 217yds 2TDs but -2 yards rushing) but Pittsburgh had the best team in the league and we went down again, ending the dreams of the bowl game.

Overall, GS completed 123/234 (52.6%) for 1,445 yards, 9TDs and 4 picks while rushing for 781 yards and a robust 14 touchdowns on 173 carries (4.5). he’s a tough kid and shows good leadership and seems to have the loyalty of the team. But 52.6% would have been a good completion percentage when I first started following this sport 60 years ago, (Shrader kind of reminds me of Walley Mahle, who completed 46% in 1962), but it won’t do now. It’s been suggested that he suffered an injury taking so many hits and maybe he did: too many of his incompletions never got there or weren’t close to the target. He wasn’t helped by a young, if talented, receiving corps that didn’t go a great job of running routes, getting open, pulling down difficult balls or positioning themselves to be good targets when Garrett scrambled. A better line, better receivers and better health could help but Dino must win now and all those ‘freshmen’ will get a look if this season opens like the last one ended. That said, Dino did bring Garrett Shrader to ACC Media Day and has been referring to him as his #1 QB ever since spring practice.

Shader’s 2021 highlights:

Garrett Shrader 2021 Regular Season Highlights | Syracuse QB

(112 incomplete passes not included.)

The back-up quarterback, besides being the most popular guy in town, is also a vital player even if he never plays a down – because he could be playing the next down at any time. On top of that, if Shrader isn’t everything we need, Dino may have to look to someone else to spark the team. Again, he needs to win – now. Nothing can elevate a football program better than a dynamic quarterback. If that’s not Garrett and somebody else looks like he could be it, Dino may again be tempted to make a switch. Here are the guys he could go to:

Carlos Del Rio-Wilson – If there’s an SU savior in this group, he’s likely to be it. Carlos, like DeVito and Shrader, was a 4 star recruit, (we don’t get too many of them here), rated even more highly than them by 247: the #146 recruit at any position in the country and the #17 ‘QB”, (regardless of type). “Owns a solid build and average stature for the position. Should play in college around 215-220 pounds. Tests as a good athlete and backs that up on the field with rushing ability. Plays in one of the top classifications of Georgia High School football at a talented program. Has shown above average arm strength and ability to spin the ball in camp and 7-on-7 settings, perhaps more so than on video. Mechanically sound and has good feet in his drops and in moving throughout the pocket. Has some scheme versatility as he can operate in-structure within a pro-style, drop back offense while also running spread concepts. Can let his release get long at times and has a tendency to lock on his first read. Has shown some room for improvement with ball location in camp and 7-on-7 settings, missing low and behind at times. Projects as a Power Five starter.”

He was recruited by Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, NC State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Virginia Tech but Florida wanted him badly and they got him. Here’s a deep dive SI did into his highlights at the time of his commitment:
Five Play Prospect: Florida Gators QB Carlos Del Rio-Wilson
But he redshirted and didn’t play at all last year, (once upon a time that was the same thing – now it means that too many players were ahead of him). And now he’s transferred to SU. As with Garrett Shrader coaching change many have been a factor: Dan Mullen was fired after what had been a top ten team wound up 5-6. The new coach, Billy Napier, said “I think he just observed spring practice and felt like a change of scenery would be good for him in terms of competing and finding an opportunity to play.” Today was the first play of fall practice for SU and the #1 unit worked on goal line plays. They did it with two quarterbacks: Garrett Shrader and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson.

(8/9 Update: “Florida quarterback transfer Carlos Del Rio-Wilson missed the previous session with a foot injury… "He looked like he was doing good, but he had a little owie on his foot and missed a practice," Babers said. "He just came back so this is his first practice since he came back. His foot is fine, but now he’s lost some time so he needs to regain that time." -CuseNation A video of the team practicing goal-line situations show Shrader getting off a pass into the end Zone each time while DRW “scrambled on every play”. That’s the sign of a guy doesn’t know the offense yet. Of course, with a new OC, none of them know the offense yet. But Coach Anae was here for spring practice. DRW transferred in in May.)

Luke MacPhail – Luke came here as a ‘preferred’ walk-on but his film looked as good as the scholarship players.

Luke MacPhail Senior Highlights

I said at the time: “He was “the fifth most productive passer in Massachusetts history in touchdowns (85) and yards (7,195)” and the “All-New England Player of the Year”, which sounds pretty good to me.”
Nonetheless, he wasn’t even rated by 247 and has never played a down for SU. But we’ve had walk-ons play for us before and some of them have played fairly well.

JaCobian Morgan – When both Tommy DeVito and his back-up, Rex Culpepper, went down in the disastrous 2020 season, JaCobian was pressed into service. In three games, he completed a credible 63% of his passes, (31/49), but for only 285 yards, (a weak 9.2 yards per completion), for 2 scores and 2 picks. He rushed for -25 yards. Last year he got into only 1 game and completed his only pass for 3 yards. He’s a big kid who can move and throw but was understandably uncertain of his moves being pressed into service as a true freshman but now he seems to be falling down the depth chart. He’s been rated by 247 as a 3-star, the #2,299 player overall and the #79 pro-style quarterback, not very high. He has no Syracuse highlights so here he is in high school:

Jacobian Morgan Senior QB

I said this when he was recruited: “He’s good at throwing the long ball and giving his receivers a chance to run under it. His short passes have a bit of a loop to them, as well, which is not always a good thing. I didn’t see a lot of running in this clip.”

Dan Villari – Dan was a Long Island kid SU wanted who went to Michigan, then decided he might have a better shot here and transferred back to his home state. He’s also a three star but was rated more highly by 247 than Morgan: #1,224 overall and the #42 pro-style QB. He’s another big dude who may like to run the ball more than pass it: “23-1 career record as a starter, passing for 1,306 yards and 13 TDs and rushing for 1,522 yards and 25 scores in his career” He redshirted in 2020 and last year and played in 4 games last year, completing 1 of 3 passes for 26 yards, (no scores or ints). He ran for 35 yards on 9 carries, again no scores. Here’s a good discussion of Villari on a Michigan website:
Michigan QB Dan Villari’s road so far, outlook for 2021 season
“His potential is limitless in my opinion,” said James Brady, who trains quarterbacks in the Long Island area and has worked with Villari since his freshman year of high school. “He has the attitude and the effort and the want-to to continually get better and build upon the natural athleticism and arm talent and tools that he’s been given. He’s obviously still a work in progress, but he’s going to work harder than anybody.” Brady has a lot more to say on SI:
(A 10 minute highlight film is included.)
Villari played in the spring game but did not impress as the lamented Mr. Lamson did.

(8/22 update: Villari has been working out with the receivers – not throwing to them – being one. Dino said that they have also had him working out with special teams to “find ways of getting him on the field” but that he’s still part of the quarterback competition.)

Even if Shrader holds off the competition, (as seems likely in fall camp), we haven’t had a quarterback start every game for us since Ryan Nassib ten years ago. So that battle for the #2 spot is important.
 

SWC75

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The first depth chart is out and Garrett Shrader is the #1 quarterback with Carlos Del Rio Wilson #2. Word is from those who have observed practice is that this competition wasn’t that close. Shrader was easily the best passer in camp – I’m not sure how to interpret that – and that DRW was still learning the offense. So we live and die with Garrett Shrader, for now anyway.
 

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