Without Pugh, Syracuse needs inexperienced offensive linemen to step up

first_img Published on July 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_iseman NEWPORT, R.I. – Doug Marrone has mixed feelings. The Syracuse head coach is disappointed to have one player sit on the sidelines, but excited to see what another can do in his place.After undergoing shoulder surgery following an injury he suffered during spring practices, senior offensive tackle Justin Pugh will miss all of training camp and might not be able to return until the end of September. Marrone has several players he could tab to take Pugh’s place, but at Big East football media day Tuesday, he said he’s looking forward to junior Sean Hickey having the opportunity to fill in.“Justin Pugh has been a very good player for us, but it’s an opportunity. Sean Hickey’s been hurt since he’s been here at Syracuse,” Marrone said. “We’ve always felt great about Sean, his ability to play. Now is a great opportunity to go out there and play.”Marrone didn’t say officially that Hickey would be the one to replace the 6-foot-6, 292-pound Pugh, but said right now, he thinks Hickey will be lining up at left tackle. Still, Pugh is a 2011 All-Big East first team offensive tackle, and Marrone called him one of the best in the northeast. Losing him for any length of time is a significant setback for Syracuse.Pugh will see his doctor at the end of August. At that time, he will have a better idea of when he could return.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“As soon as the doctor clears me, I’ll be back out there playing,” Pugh said. “There’s no one that wants to be out there on the field more than I do. There’s no one that wants to be out there with my teammates more than I do and it kills me to see the way it’s gone down.”Right now, Pugh is working on strengthening his shoulder, part of a rehabilitation process he said has gone well. But there’s also a constant fight to make sure he doesn’t too much and reinjures it further or delays the healing process.“The toughest thing about being injured is just knowing you’re not going to be able to play,” Pugh said. “You just keep pushing, keep pushing, but at the same time, if you push it too hard, you could re-hurt yourself.”The Orange also has to replace the right side of its offensive line after Andrew Tiller and Michael Hay graduated. Ivan Foy and Lou Alexander are the likely candidates to take their spots.Marrone said he’s not overly concerned with having to replace Pugh while he’s out because of the depth at the position.Hickey is the most likely option, but Nick Robinson could also move from guard to tackle. Another potential replacement is senior tackle Andrew Phillips, who played mostly on special teams last season.SU guard Zack Chibane said if it is indeed Hickey who gets the starting nod, he’ll be ready to take over.“He’s a great kid, he’s a hard worker,” Chibane said. “He’s been able to overcome a lot of adversity. I’m looking forward to work with him and Andy Phillips, whoever it may be. We have a great and talented room.”While it hasn’t been easy for Pugh to look out onto the field and see someone else lining up next to Chibane, it’s a sight he’ll have to get used to for training camp and the start of the season.But as soon as the doctor lets him, Pugh will be back out on the field.“I’m running good, my conditioning’s there, everything’s there,” Pugh said. “It’s just a matter of getting cleared.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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