A lot of people around the SU hill are thrilled at the Orange’s haul of all-conference players. Syracuse racked up 11 selections to the All-ACC team this week. The Orange was projected in the preseason media poll to only have one player selected to the first team, but finished with three. Syracuse massively outperformed expectations with a 9-3 record and the only losses coming to a pair of likely College Football Playoff teams and the ACC Coastal division winner, yet Dino Babers was snubbed as the conference’s coach of the year. While Orange fans have a massive gripe with that and the fact that Eric Dungey slipped all the way to All-ACC third team, there is one SU player whose omission from all-ACC is much more glaring. Junior defensive end Kendall Coleman did not receive any all-conference accolades. So fitting for a team that received a visit from Stephen A. Smith, because this is BLASPHEMOUS.
While Orange fans may be piping mad about Dino getting snubbed, at the end of the day there is only one coach of the year. Dabo Swinney and Clemson went undefeated and have a chance to be the 2018 national champions. However, there are at least six spots for defensive ends to receive a nod, plus honorable mentions spots to anyone receiving at least 25 points in the voting. The fact that a panel of 46 voters could not muster up at least 25 points for Coleman is simply egregious.
This season, Coleman finished with a career high seven sacks. That was good for seventh in the conference. However, Coleman also played one less game than almost everyone ahead of him after missing the Orange’s season finale against Boston College. Coleman and Alton Robinson were the ACC’s leading sack duo, which is super impressive in a conference that also features Clemson’s NFL talent-stacked defensive line.
When you look at the players taken ahead of Coleman, it’s hard to make his first team argument. Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Florida State’s Brian Burns weren’t just two of the best defensive ends in the conference. They were two of the best in the country. Then you move to the second team and see Coleman’s teammate Robinson, who rightfully deserved his spot there. But his co-second teammate BC’s Zach Allen may have gotten a bit of a name recognition bump. Allen appeared in all 12 games this season and had half a sack less than Coleman. Sure, Allen’s frame is more NFL-caliber at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds. But Coleman simply outperformed a potential first round pick this season, while playing against a similar schedule.
While Coleman certainly played at a level worthy of the second team, his omission from the third team and honorable mention should have the media and coaches credentials taken. Clemson’s Austin Bryant and Boston College’s Wyatt Ray earned third team honors, while Miami’s Joe Jackson took home honorable mention. Jackson, like Coleman should have received a spot on the second or third team. But it’s hard to argue that Ray and Bryant were more deserving than Coleman and Jackson.
When you look at the total body of work and who they did it against, Coleman’s resume is just as impressive as anyone’s. He finished with the aforementioned seven sacks, but who they came against shows why he’s an elite defensive end in the conference. Coleman had two against Clemson, who allowed only 13 all season. That’s the eleventh best sack prevention rate in the country. Every member of the Tigers offensive line also received All-ACC nods. Plus, that was a run heavy game for the Clemson offense, who threw the ball 29 times versus 53 rushing plays. Along with that, Coleman also picked up a sack against an elite North Carolina pass protection that allowed just 10 sacks in 2018. That was good for eighth in the country. Meanwhile, Ray picked up seven of his nine sacks against Wake Forest and Louisville, who rank 98th and 127th out of 129 teams respectively in sack prevention. When he faced elite talent like Clemson, he was held to no sacks and just one tackle.
Coleman’s case for all-conference is clear. It got to the point where Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly made a conscious effort to double team him and Robinson on passing third downs against the Irish because he feared the outside of the Orange defensive line much more than the interior. But if you know anything about Coleman, he’ll gladly take a potential double digit win season over some hardware for the trophy mantle.
For more on Coleman and the All-ACC teams, check out the latest episode of the FizzCast with Tyler Aki and Tim Leonard. Discussion of Coleman’s snub begins at the 20:45 minute mark.