There were plenty of reasons why Syracuse fell way short of expectations this season. The biggest and most consistent problem, though, was the offense line. The Orange allowed 4.17 sacks per contest, the worst mark of any power conference team in the country and 128th out of 130 total.
The good news: everyone except for guard Evan Adams is back. The Orange should start the year with a healthy Sam Heckel and you’d think only get better.
That being said, until proven otherwise it is still the biggest concern going forward. It seems Coach Babers and his staff are already proving they know this.
Florida OL Chris Bleich visited the campus this weekend and we can assume attended the Wake Forest game, according to Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com.
Bleich, who recently entered the transfer portal, certainly would bring talent. The 6-6, 330 pound lineman started eight games at guard this season for Florida until the Gators opted to go with their backup. But his offer sheet shows the potential. He was originally committed to both UCLA and Penn State before going to Florida and also had offers from plenty of the ACC schools like Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
Syracuse.com also reports offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh also has a relationship with him as he used to be on the staff at Nebraska, which offered Bleich as well.
Now Bleich is not a graduate transfer so he would need to apply for a family hardship waiver to be able to play next year for Syracuse. However, it seems like that is somewhat likely. Dan Mullen hinted at his “family issues” being part of the reason he entered the transfer portal.
Bleich may have struggled a little bit at Florida, but the fact that he started eighth games says a lot. Besides, if you’re getting a benched former starter, Florida isn’t a bad place for that.
Another layer to this thing is the state of Mike Cavanuagh’s job security. The offensive line coach, you’d imagine has his job at least somewhat on the line after last season. Plenty think he needs to go.
Perhaps his relationship here with Bleich could keep him on the staff. If they land him based at least partially on his relationship, it’s hard to see Cavanaugh getting fired, right?
Dino said they were going to make changes. We haven’t heard anything yet. Typically, the decision would come sooner rather than later given this is a hot time for recruiting. Bleich could be a big domino in Cavanuagh’s fate.
The last OL transfer, Ryan Alexander, really flopped. But, Koda Martin (Texas A&M) before that was a big success. Hard to say how close Bleich is to signing, but the pre-existing relationship and early visit are good signs.
He would still have to get his waiver to pass, no sure thing. If he did though and he comes to Syracuse, Bleich could start at guard next year and upgrade the unit that needs it most.