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Syracuse Football Goes Back to Drawing Board to Begin Fixing Problems for ’15

Focus shifts to next season as offense must get back on track.

Scott Shafer’s second season at the helm of the Orange has officially come to an end, and it was an ugly one. Syracuse fell to Boston College 28-7 in the season finale in Chestnut Hill. With the loss, the Orange finishes the season at 3-9, the worst since 2008.

The biggest problem for Syracuse this season was the offense and the inability to move the ball down the field. That continued Saturday. The Orange had 128 total yards on offense, and the lone score was a 4-yard touchdown run for true freshman quarterback, AJ Long.

The Eagles entered the game averaging 261.8 yards on the ground per game, which ranked 11th best in the NCAA. Credit the SU defense because it kept BC to 142 yards on the ground.

“For the most part, I was really pleased with the way our defense played today,” Shafer said. “It’s just difficult to win games when you’re struggling as much as we have on offense.”

That has been the biggest problem throughout the season. The Syracuse defense put the offense in position to put points on the board and win. As the focus starts to transition to next season, all eyes are on what has to change, and who has the biggest roles.

“We had a lot of uncontrollable moments,” Shafer said after the game. “A lot of things that weren’t easy for our kids — and our coaches.”

While most bowl eligible teams will start preparing for games soon, the Syracuse coaching staff will begin to prepare for next year. The struggles on offense this year helped younger players, such as Steve Ishmael, Ervin Philips, and Long get more playing time.

Although SU was on the losing end for nine of its 12 games, these younger players learned and got early experience that will better suit them when more is asked of them in the coming years.

The struggles were on every part of the offensive game.

The quarterback situation:

Passes were inaccurate all season long. Most times there were communication issues between quarterback and receiver. When there are three different quarterbacks throughout the season, it is difficult for everyone to be on the same page.

For Long, he knows there is one thing he has to do in the offseason to make himself a better quarterback.

“It’s time to go to work and get bigger,” Long said.

Long added that being bigger and stronger makes him a better passer with more accuracy.

The running backs:

Rushes up the middle did not work. Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore are fast, tough, physical backs, but not strong enough to rush past the defensive line and linebackers. Against Boston College, there were more pitches to the outside left and right with Philips and although his numbers were not impressive on paper, he was able to show off his speed and footwork against a quick defense like BC.

This team thinks it learned about itself, and changes can be expected for the start of next season.

“Any time you struggle, you learn a lot about yourself,” Shafer said.

 

Posted:  Austin Pollack
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