In his first year manning the sidelines for the Orange, Scott Shafer did something that is not easy to do: he took a group of young guys, including a first-year quarterback—all of whom were playing in a new conference—and took them to a Texas Bowl victory.
After dropping the first two games of the season to Penn State and Northwestern, this team didn’t look like it had what it took to compete down the stretch. It wasn’t until the final six seconds of the regular season that it became bowl eligible.
Remember Josh Parris’ touchdown against Boston College? That’s the play that made it all happen.
As the program inches closer to its second season with Shafer at the helm and Terrel Hunt under center, the expectations are high. The spring game is April 19 at the Dome. Last season, it was all about the quarterbacks. It was a four-person competition of Hunt, Charley Loeb, John Kinder and Drew Allen. Hunt completed 19 passes for over 200 yards in that game. This year, it’s an older and more experienced team. This squad knows the coaching staff and works behind Shafer’s positive attitude and hard-nosed mindset.
Expect this team to be extremely solid. Shafer and his coaching staff make no-name players into name players. The spring game is a way to get a glimpse of how this year’s team will perform and who will make the biggest impact.
Here are some notable players who should stitch their names into the minds of Orange fans.
Entering his senior season, he’s been a very solid man on defense for the Orange. Very rarely does he make mistakes and he always makes his presence known on the field. As a senior, he has more responsibility for coverage. He’s the lone senior corner on this team. He’s going to have to help the juniors in Julian Whigham, Wayne Morgan and Eric Jackson get ready to take over the big role next year.
There is upperclass talent in Dyshawn Davis and Cam Lynch. Starting with Davis, he’s a warrior. He’s eighth in SU history with 31 and a half tackles for yardage loss. With one more season to go in blue and orange, he must have this in the back of his mind – and the desire to win. Lynch wants his coaches, teammates and fans to know he’s there. He led Syracuse with eight tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in the Texas Bowl against Minnesota. Now a senior, look for him to be even better this season.
The running backs
Prince-Tyson Gulley and George Morris II are the two main guys to move the ball on the ground. Although they’re both extremely talented, that talent comes in two different ways. Morris is the speedster and Gulley is the small player who used his strength to keep moving the ball. The Fizz recently looked into the impact these two can half next season.
Your choice. Throw all of the names in a hat and whichever one you choose will do something big. That’s how all of last season went. There were receivers who had very little mention. There were no Alec Lemons or no Marcus Sales on this team—very few “go-to” receivers. If someone was open, he got the ball. Parris in the end zone against Boston College is a perfect example of that, and even young guys like Brisly Estime, who is entering his sophomore year. The Delray Beach, Fla. native was third on the team in receptions last year. Most notably, he had a 70-yard punt return in the Texas Bowl. Most of these receivers are older and they are talented, but these young guys will certainly make a difference as well.