SYRACUSE — For the second straight year, Justin Lamson utilized the Syracuse University football spring game as the platform to stake his claim to the backup quarterback spot.
The redshirt sophomore displayed poise and efficiency while operating with a unit consisting mostly of expected starters, and outshined classmate Carlos Del Rio-Wilson in the spotlight Friday night in the JMA Wireless Dome to conclude their spring competition.
The duo has split first-team reps throughout spring practices while incumbent starter Garrett Shrader sat out recovering from an offseason procedure to his right arm.
“I thought they were a little nervous to start out with in the beginning,” SU coach Dino Babers said of his dueling QBs afterward. “Our whole thing is to make sure they settle down. Things are not always exactly right, because you’re working with the ones then you’re working with the twos. ... I think they both did a good job.”
The SU spring game was held in an offense versus defense 11-on-11 format with no official scoring system. Contact was limited and appeared more like a rough-touch exhibition at times.
Lamson started and was under center for five of the 15 possessions conducted during the final of three spring scrimmages for the Orange and its only outing with fans present.
Lamson finished 16-for-21 passing for 178 yards and threw the only touchdown of the first half, connecting with Isaiah Jones for a 33-yard strike on the fourth drive. He was sacked three times for a combined loss of 10 yards.
Last year, Lamson was the clear standout of the spring game, taking advantage with Shrader a surprise scratch. But he suffered a non-contact knee injury soon after in a follow-up workout and was lost for the 2022 campaign before training camp opened last August.
“I think any time you talk about those quarterbacks, those extra reps are going to be the key,” Babers said. “Those guys have gotten a lot of reps, and sometimes when you say: ‘Oh the quarterback messed up,’ it’s a wide receiver or offensive lineman. Everything has got to be exactly right for those guys. ... You just want to see them make a play, and I thought they did.”
Del Rio-Wilson, meanwhile, operated with mostly backups Friday and struggled at the controls for four of the opening eight series. He finished strong with a pair of touchdown passes after the halftime break.
Del Rio-Wilson completed 9 of 16 passes overall for 93 yards and scoring strikes from 21 and 8 yards out. He was 3-for-9 for 28 scoreless yards before the intermission. He handled six carries for a loss of 13 yards, including four sacks. He also fumbled once but recovered to extend the series.
Babers declined to identify a front-runner in the backup QB battle afterward and said that Lamson starting and running with the first unit was decided by a coin flip.
“We got to go through the tape,” Babers said. “There are checks and all kinds of stuff with those guys that we got to through the tape, and then we’ll make a decision.”
Shrader was in uniform and went through some warmups with his teammates but was not seen throwing the ball. He is expected to be cleared in time for regular-season practices to begin in August.
Offensive lineman Chris Bleich and linebackers Marlowe Wax, Derek McDonald, and Stefon Thompson were among other key players that were held out recovering from injuries this spring and did not participate Friday night.
Muwaffaq Parkman scored on a three-yard touchdown run, and Damien Alford hauled in a one-handed grab near midfield on an out route to provide a couple other highlights.
Brady Denaburg, expected to take over the starting kicker role, went 4-for-9 on field goals from different spots on the field, all between 40-45 yards. He lined up with only the snapper and holder, and no defense opposing.
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