First things first: the status of college football’s 2020 season is uncertain. Will the season start on time? Will the season be delayed until the spring? Those are both fair questions as we enter the summer months. With that said, The Fizz is analyzing the biggest questions surrounding the Orange. The following topics will be firmly under the microscope whenever play resumes.
Will the offensive line improve?
If it doesn’t, the Orange are in for another rocky season. Last year’s offensive line gave up 50 sacks. Not good enough. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. The lack of protection up front appeared to be the biggest reason quarterback Tommy DeVito struggled. Remember, a solid group up front (two NFL caliber tackles) propelled Eric Dungey to his stellar 2018 season. Here’s the good news: help is on the way. The bad news? We’re not sure when it’s coming. Florida transfer Chris Bleich announced his decision to transfer to Syracuse in December. Assuming he’s eligible for the upcoming season, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound guard shouldn’t have any problems breaking into the Orange’s starting lineup. Bleich will have three years of eligibility left once he’s cleared. While it may sound dramatic, Bleich’s status could determine the fate of SU’s O-line.
Is Jawhar Jordan the guy?
This is interesting. Moe Neal’s departure leaves a massive void in the running back room. Out of all the returners, Jordan appears to have the highest ceiling. He averaged a team-high seven yards per rush last year. Due to the new four-game redshirt rule, the coaching staff chose to limit his touches last season. That means Jordan could be the face of SU’s running game for many years to come. Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams did a solid job as a backup last year, but he’s not the obvious choice to takeover as the team’s feature back. Jordan provided a spark when he touched the football. The energy in the stadium changed. Dino Babers and staff could decide to make that a more regular occurence this season.
What will the Orange look like?
There’s no denying that change was needed after a painful season. With Sterlin Gilbert (offense) and Tony White (defense) in place as the program’s new coordinators, fans can expect changes across the board. What are they going to look like? It’s hard to say at this point. Gilbert worked with Babers at both Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green, so there should be more similarities than differences. White brings a 3-3-5 defense from New Mexico State. The most notable difference will be the Orange’s commitment to a three-man front. Up until this point, Babers has consistently employed a four-man defensive front.