With strong spring Hay ascends to 1st team, looks to key unsure offensive line
Over the course of Syracuse’s 14 spring practices, only one player stole a spot with the first-team offense or defense — junior offensive tackle Michael Hay.
Granted, Van Chew did ascend to the starting Z wide receiver spot after Mike Jones left the team. Adam Harris also stepped into the first-team slot at full back after Carl Cutler suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. But in both cases, both Harris and Chew were essentially given the spots. Each prior starter wasn’t on the field this spring.
Josh White, the starter at right tackle entering spring ball, was. White practiced all spring. But from the tail end of the second week and into the third week of spring practice, Hay overcame White for the starting spot at right tackle.
‘In the last three to four practices, (Hay) has really stepped up and made the largest improvement (of anyone on the team),’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said.
Hay — a junior transfer from Nassau Community College — played well enough in the minds of Marrone and the rest of the coaching staff in spring practice to overtake White on the depth chart and earn the starting nod with the first team Saturday. Hay partook in nearly every snap at the right tackle position with the first-team offense.
Marrone was pleased with the performance as he stressed the fact that Hay earned the starting spot due to a knack for Marrone’s new offensive system.
‘He really has a good understanding of the new system,’ Marrone said. ‘I’m happy with his progress — he’s done a very good job in the run game for us. We’ll keep developing in the pass-protection phase, but as far as his assignments, they have been very good the past three to four practices.’
The competition between Hay and White will continue into the summer. And that’s all White can ask for.
‘Coach (Marrone) just wants us to go out and compete, so he bumped me back, thinking I could focus a little bit more,’ White said. ‘Mike Hay is doing his job, and we are just going to get it done.’
Sales back in wide receiver discussion thanks to 158-yard outing
Following a spring where Marcus Sales seemingly disappeared at every practice, the rising junior wide receiver re-entered the discussion for a starting spot with his 158-yard, two-touchdown performance Saturday.
It came entirely against SU’s second-team defense, but Sales was the offensive star for the Orange in Saturday’s Spring Game. The performance came after a down spring for Sales where the wide receiver failed to move up from the third-team spot at the X wide receiver position.
‘I’m excited to go back and look at how he played today and in the rest of the spring to make a true evaluation of him,’ Marrone said.
Sales, who started five games last year and was third on the team with 28 receptions to go along with three touchdowns on the season, took reps behind starters Alec Lemon and Hofstra transfer Aaron Weaver over the course of the Orange’s 14 practices. Lemon, Weaver and rising junior wideout Van Chew made more big plays in the spring than Sales.
‘(Sales’ performance) just gives him more opportunities to compete,’ SU’s wide receiver coach Rob Moore said. ‘That’s what it does.’
After the game, Sales acknowledged the opportunity his performance gives him heading into the summer. To Sales, it’s simple. He’s just doing what is asked of him. And after a tough spring, Saturday put him back in the discussion.
‘That’s my job, to catch the ball,’ Sales said. ‘It’s just my job to go out there and do work.’
Hogue knicked up but fine
Despite an Antwon Bailey touchdown run in the second half of SU’s Spring Game Saturday, Syracuse fans held there collective breath for several minutes after the play. At the end of the run, rising senior linebacker Doug Hogue remained on the ground with an apparent leg injury.
Hogue was attended to at the goal line following the play. He was then helped off the field by two teammates. The linebacker didn’t return for the remainder of the game and was later seen walking up and down the sideline without much of a limp.
SU head coach Doug Marrone was quick to dispel any rumors about Hogue’s status in his postgame presser. Hogue registered four tackles in the 66-58 loss to the offense.
‘We come out injury free,’ Marrone said. ‘Doug Hogue went down for a little bit, but he’s back. He is fine. We just didn’t want to put him in there to jeopardize anything in the future. We came out healthy, and that is the goal.’
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