We have now seen both the first year in the ACC and the first year of the Scott Shafer era. And with both those adjustments to overcome, the Orange still went 6-6 in the regular season with a bowl win, finishing 7-6 and creating a very successful season considering all the losses the Orange had last spring between players and coaches. Now SU moves into year two with both the ACC and Shafer, so what are some legitimate expectations before we figure out all the position battles of summer practice?
1. Win more games than last year
It is perfectly reasonable to think the Orange will win more than the seven games it won last year. This year, the quarterback will be more prepared. Hunt will also be better than he was when he took the starting role last year. On top of that, the running game will likely be just as strong, if not stronger, with George Morris II and Devante McFarlene seeing increased playing time. On the other side of the ball, the defense will be just as strong as it was last year, even with the losses of Keon Lyn, Jay Bromley and Marquis Spruill. The linebackers could be a stronger unit with the insertion of Marqez Hodge, and Durrell Eskridge will be a leader in a secondary returning so many players who played important minutes last season.
2. Better Coaching
It is the second year for much of the coaching staff, and that will mean more growth for them all. Much of the adjustments need to come on the offensive side, where George McDonald wasn’t exactly great last season. Chuck Bullough did a good job in his first year as defensive coordinator (with a couple exceptions, of course). Coach Shafer may need to work on a few things, like clock management and his temper, perhaps, but debuted solidly last year. It is good to see enthusiasm out of a head coach, but yelling at Dabo Swinney in a blow out is unnecessary.
3. Better Schedule
The Orange seems to have a more favorable schedule this year than it did last year. Syracuse has an opportunity to win at least three games in its non-conference schedule, which includes Villanova, Central Michigan, Maryland and Notre Dame. Conference play is more favorable this year as well; the Orange could win any games outside of Clemson and Florida State.
Of course, there are a couple position battles that remain to be determined over the course of the summer, but there are reasons to be excited if you are a Syracuse fan for Scott Shafer’s second year in charge of the Orange.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg