Following the 2006 season, the Syracuse Orange coaching staff and fans had good reason to be excited about the running back position heading into 2007. A year ago, then freshman Delone Carter became an immediate impact player and never looked back. Carter finished his first season with 713 yards on his way to a Freshman All Big-East selection.
The combination of Carter, and junior, Curtis Brinkley was a tandem that Greg Robinson planned to rely on heavily. However, all of that changed when Carter suffered a hip injury in April and was lost for the entire 2007 season.
With Carter's injury, the running back position will be very thin. Will Brinkley be able to carry a majority of the load this season? Who will step and add more depth? Will there be an unknown who makes a name for himself carrying the ball?
Brinkley's return to the Orange offense was up in the air in the off-season, depending on who you asked. Luckily for the Orange, Brinkley returned and will be depended on heavily. With Carter out for the year, Brinkley will be asked to carry more of the rushing load. While sharing carries last season with Carter, Brinkley rushed for 588 yards and two touchdowns while seeing significant action in all 12 games. While he won't give you a performance like he did against Miami (Ohio) (15 carries, 108 yards) often, if he can put together 11-15 carries a game for 70-80 yards, the rest of the offense should be able to plug in some holes to put some points on the board.
With Brinkley picking up a lot of slack, Chiara will have to be ready to contribute as well. Last season the junior saw action in all 12 games and carried the ball 17 times for 63 yards. He had some moments last year, such as his six carries for 26 yards in the 2006 opener against Wake Forest. Chiara could contribute most at fullback. His size as a lead blocker could give Brinkley some space to attack. Also, Chiara could slide out to the left or right for short dump off passes.
The Yonkers native had an up and down season a year ago at Roosevelt (NY). He finished his senior season with 589 yards and two touchdowns, but could have easily gone for more if it weren't for a nagging injury. He finished his high school career with 2,052 yards and 14 touchdowns. Hogue could have a chance of seeing the field in limited action. With not too many bodies at the back position, Hogue is likely to see two or three touches a game.
Bailey didn't see the field in 2006, but that could change this year with the Orange looking for guys to fill the void left by Carter's injury.
Last season the combination of Brinkley and Carter had Orange fans looking forward to the 2007 season. With Carter out, you would think Brinkley now has the full reign to control the ball. If things can open up on the outside, Brinkley should be able to use his speed and attack from there, where he was most effective a year ago. Chiara should be able to bull doze his way through defenses here and there with the other guys on the Orange depth chart filling in where they can.