first_img Published on November 14, 2015 at 9:24 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidman George Morris looked straight down at the podium before slightly raising his head and speaking in a soft tone. It was the first time he’d been brought in front of the entire media after a game. He’s never been in the spotlight this season, not having scored a touchdown and posting five games with seven or less rushing yards.For the past five weeks, he’s been behind a freshman on the depth chart. Even before that, first-year tailback Jordan Fredericks received the bulk of the touches as Morris and fellow junior Devante McFarlane sporadically scrapped together carries.“It was kind of difficult, but at the same time you’ve got to think of the bigger picture and the team and you’ve got to make sacrifices,” Morris said. “And I’ve made a sacrifice and I was willing to do it.”On Saturday, Morris finally broke out against No. 1 Clemson with Fredericks sidelined by an upper-body injury for more than half the game. The junior tallied season highs of 14 carries and 80 yards to go along with three special teams tackles in SU’s (3-7, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) 37-27 loss to the Tigers (10-0, 7-0) on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.“It’s not easy when you go into the season hoping to be the man,” SU head coach Scott Shafer said, “and then you have to take a backseat to a young guy a little bit.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe highlight of Morris’ day came with the Orange trailing by 10 early in the fourth quarter, clinging to life deep in its own territory.Morris broke off down the left side before juking a defensive back and trudging for a couple extra yards to cap off a 51-yard run, the longest of his season. Offensive coordinator Tim Lester said he’s been trying to get Morris into the open field for quite some time, but the opportunities haven’t presented themselves with limited carries.“He’s one of those kids that he was OK early on and didn’t have a ton of opportunities,” Lester said. “He’s getting better every week.”Later in the drive, though, Morris was stuffed for a loss of 3 yards on third-and-1 at Clemson’s 4-yard line and SU was forced to kick a field goal. The Orange never drew closer than a touchdown and Morris had one carry for 2 yards the rest of the way.Shafer said Fredericks will be OK, but noted he had a sling on his arm after the game. In his spot, a junior whose season highs of 71 yards and 12 carries came against a Division-I AA opponent got a rare chance even if it’s too late to count for Syracuse’s postseason hopes.The bulk of those 80 yards came on one carry Saturday, but flirting signs of optimism presented themselves in another 10-point loss to a top-10 team. Like Syracuse coaches and players believe of the team, Morris may be going unnoticed because the raw numbers don’t pop out.Coaches say he’s improving despite those humbling stats. Morris has carried the ball only once or twice in four different games. An upperclassman supposed to be a primary option has been anything but.But against the country’s top team, though insignificant in the midst of a seven-game slide, Morris gave a hint of what’s in store if he’s given a chance.“You did a kick-ass job out there George,” Shafer said, looking at Morris in the postgame press conference, “and I’m proud of you, man.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img