Offensive Adjustments Key to Syracuse Football Success in 2014-15

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via USA Today

The Syracuse offense came alive the last two games of the season last year as Terrel Hunt finally looked comfortable as the quarterback of the Orange. However, for much of the season, the offense looked lost. SU failed to score more than 14 points in four of its 13 games and only topped 21 points five times, although two came against Tulane and Wagner. Between the Tulane game and the regular-season finale against BC, the Orange offense looked stagnant and the passing game was nonexistent. Constant calls for changes were made by fans and critics, so what can we look for from the Orange in George McDonald’s second year as offensive coordinator.

This year’s offense will be different from last year’s for two big reasons. One, Jerome Smith is gone. Smith was a workhorse running back and somebody the Orange could rely on to grind out carries. He was the lead back last year and that could be difficult to replace, regardless of how many running backs the Orange have. The other reason is Terrel Hunt’s development. Hunt grew up in the weeks between the BC game and the Texas Bowl, as shown by his MVP performance. And it is very reasonable to expect that he will grow even more over the course of a full spring and summer as the starting QB. Not only is it expected, but also it is necessary in order for the offense to take strides and win some games.

Aside from those factors, George McDonald needs to do a better job with play calling. Many times last year it felt like a series would go: run-screen-incomplete-punt. McDonald needs to mix up the play calling a little more. Maybe there is room in the offense to put Hunt in an option with George Morris II or Prince Tyson-Gulley or to roll Hunt out of the pocket. Hunt is a quarterback who can run. Last year made running the ball a big park of his game, but it was almost always when the pocket broke down and not on a designed run. Now is the time to add in some designed running plays for Hunt, or an option of a run for Hunt—possibly out of the pistol set McDonald liked last year.

Another big adjustment to this year’s offense will be getting Jarrod West involved early and often. West is a big-bodied receiver; why not take advantage? Many thought West would start contributing more when Hunt took over for Drew Allen, though that was not really the case. West struggled, catching just 26 passes and one touchdown. He needs to produce more, but with more receiving options than last year—new recruits, Quinta Funderburk, Brisley Estime, and Ashton Broyld—thats easier said than done. If West does not get into the mix, whether it is because of himself, Hunt, or play calling, there will likely be somebody else to take his place this year.

This could be a big year for the Orange, especially if the offense steps up. But they’ll have to commit 100% to that.

Posted by: Seth Goldberg


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  1. Sure and I could win the powerball lottery too lol..but getting real if the passing game get’s off the ground I think next yr could be special in the struggle back to top 35 status yrly but too early to ascertain. RG and Def seems up to snuff but QB is the key!!

  2. Cuse17 says:

    McDonald is the key.. The wrong key! As the article points out..His play calling is suspect. I believe his recruiting capability.. Often used to justify his position..is lacking.
    His lack of ability to develop talent is a given….
    Hunt will need a solid O-line…Hunt will have to run a lot……he has to at least sell the fact that he can throw…I like his receivers …Then we need someone to step up to replace Smith….
    Big requirements for OC that can’t call a game. He has done little to support Shafer! I think Shafer has been a pleasant surprise.. He needs an Offensive Coordinator to cover his back! He doesn’t have one!
    Wish he had addressed this issue this last off season.

  3. orangeinva says:

    I have 4 keys…
    1) Hunt must be able to throw the deep ball.
    2) OLINE needs to find adequate replacement for Macky–leadership/blocking schemes each play.
    3) DBs MUST tighten pass coverage..at times we looked average//at times we looked completely lost and clueless..when Minnesota’s passing game starts yielding results-YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM!! Coach Reid is on my hotseat.
    4) Finally, the kicking game..we have to put the foot back in football. Here we are an indoor team- how often do we kick the ball into/out of the endzone on kickoffs?
    How many 40+ yard field goals have we hit in the past 4 years?

    We could win 9 games this season with significant improvement..and I believe it is attainable.

  4. orangeinva says:

    Cuse 17..I believe you’ll feel differently about McDonald by the middle of October.

  5. Cuse17 says:

    Orangeinva
    Hope your right….really agree on kicking game! We .. Even in the darkest days…had very good kickers. what happened. It was a strength and a real weapon! We’re indoors and should be a great opportunity for a first class soccer play.. Lots on Long Island!
    I just haven’t seen anything from McDonald. Forget everything else.. His play calling has be weak/predictable. Get he hasn’t had the greatest talent but got to use what you got! Moore gone..might get worse…

  6. We have just signed up a new kicker. Hopefully he will be the one to get the ball into the end zone so no run back is possible. Is this new lad up to the challenge, or will we keep kicking the ball to the 10 – 15 yards line with run backs taking it another 10 to 20 yards? Sheeeeeeesh

  7. Malone says:

    A kicker and a long snapper, both as preferred walk ons. We also have an offer out to a good one for class of ’15. Agree with the thoughts, but I think the kicking game is being addressed.

  8. Ron says:

    Like Malone say’s both long snapper and kicker are preferred walk-on players. Both players will receive scholarships probably in their second year playing on the team.

  9. Orangestoria says:

    Cuse17
    As a first year OC with a first year QB Mcdonald had a rough hand last year.(you play the cards your dealt cliche)Hopefully this year he can learn from that experience and implement the offense he wants to run which should be fun to watch. With improving(ACC caliber? Not yet) talent on the field I believe this year will show us what Mickey D’s really has as an OC. Excited to see some hitting.

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