With the 2013 Syracuse football regular season behind us, it’s time to look at how the major players in the program did in the first season in the ACC.
Syracuse finished the regular season 6-6 and 4-4 in the ACC. At times, the team looked inconsistent but when it looked strong, it looked really strong. The highlight of the season came down to six seconds remaining in the regular season when Terrel Hunt completed a short pass to Josh Parris to send the Orange to its third bowl game in the last four seasons.
Now that Syracuse is bowl bound, here’s the program’s evaluation.
Scott Shafer: B
Although the team finished .500, it’s Shafer’s personality that will one day lead this program in the right direction. He really believes in the program and loves his players. He wants to not only win, but he wants to be a teacher and mentor for his players. He wants what is best for his players. He is going to work to build a close relationship with each and every one of his players. This leads to a winning environment, and that’s what Syracuse brought to the table in the game against BC.
George McDonald: B-
Some games were better than others. Give him a break against Clemson and Florida State because when Syracuse played those two teams, both were flirting with the possibility of playing in the national championship game (which came true for FSU). He has helped turn small-name players like Parris and Alvin Cornelius into players who made an impact on this team and this program. The same goes for Devante McFarlane. As the recruiting improves and McDonald continues to aim for players in key areas such as Florida, he looks even better.
Chuck Bullough: C+
This may be a little tough for Bullough. Two big games, Georgia Tech and Florida State, bring this down a little bit. Bullough’s defense did one good thing consistently all year: it did not give up more than 100 yards rushing to any running back all season long. Syracuse was the only team in the nation to do that. That says so much about what he’s done for the rushing defense. If his defense wasn’t so strong, running backs like Andre Williams would have had a more productive first half. The same goes for the passing defense. Syracuse allowed 26 points on average, which is 56th best in the country. That may seem like a high number, but it may go to show that the defense was slightly better than the offense. The offense averaged almost 23 points per game.
Terrel Hunt: B-
He has work to do. A quarterback needs to know how to more consistently pass. Hunt had breakout games against Wagner and Tulane, but those were easily Syracuse’s two easiest opponents throughout the season. Hunt did develop. He worked hard and this first year of experience will make him even better next year. For a kid who was a first-year starter under a new head coach and in a new conference, 6-6 should be considered a solid performance.
The rest of the offense: B+
When you look at Jerome Smith, he found a way to get things done. This team was very young going into the season and still is, but one year done and these kids are only going to get better. George Morris II is going to be a solid back when Smith and PTG leave. McFarlane has shown he can handle heavy responsibility. The young receivers took over for the losses of Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. With a year under their belts, you can expect next year to be better.
The defense: B-
This goes along with Bullough, for the most part. The fact that stands out is that the defense never gave up more than 100-yards to an opposing rusher. It dealt with its fair share of injuries throughout the season, but the next guy on the depth chart came in and got the job done. Give the team a break for those games against Clemson and FSU.
A bowl game is something to really think about. Considering having to replace a coach, quarterback and players at other key positions, this team found a way to get things done against tough competition. And next year will bring not only more success, but more talent, too.
Posted by: Austin Pollack