Realistically, Syracuse inched into its bowl game this past season.
The season came down to the final six seconds, when Terrel Hunt threw a touchdown to Josh Parris to give the Orange a win against Boston College. That pass made SU bowl eligible for the second straight season.
There were so many new things in that season, that makes this season more likely to be more successful. Here are five key reasons that Syracuse will be back in a bowl game after this season.
Scott Shafer: Shafer is a unique coach. He is big on energy and the community. He tries to give his team the best atmosphere to play in and to get his kids hyped up for a big crowd and a big game. His term “hard-nosed” is something the entire community can relate to. He loves his team and the fans his team plays for. Shafer led his team to a bowl game in just one season at the helm of the Orange. He worked to overcome a new conference, a quarterback competition that continued through the first few games, and he had to cope with major loss margins. With a year complete, he is more prepared and ready to lead this team to another bowl game.
Terrel Hunt: Like Shafer, he overcame a lot. He faced tough defenses, and fought for his job early on against Drew Allen. He only got better as the season progressed. He made his receivers better. He didn’t have one go-to receiver. He used everybody, and that gives him more options going into this season. He is familiar with these opposing defenses, as well as his own offense. Last season was somewhat of a rebuilding year for the program, and Hunt handled it as well as anybody could.
The ACC: The champs were in the ACC. Syracuse had to face Jameis Winston and his Seminoles down in Tallahassee. That is no easy task. The conference schedule, with a new coach and quarterback calling the plays, was a lot to handle. There were some bad losses in conference play. With most people returning, one could imagine that everyone will learn from the mistakes in the wins and losses and find a way to have better success against these conference opponents.
They’re for real. Hats off to Shafer. He has shown a strong interest in making Syracuse football a big thing again. Obviously basketball is the big thing in the 315 right now, but he wants football to be just as big. He’s trying. He is starting to succeed. He does whatever he can to make the Dome a loud building for college football. Not only is he trying to build and coach a team that can win and be successful, but he is trying to get the fans interested again. He wears two hats: one for recruiting players, and one for recruiting fans.
Confidence. Not many coaches can say that in their first season at the helm, they have to choose between two talented quarterbacks to be the starter, all while in a new conference. It’s a tough job. Becoming bowl eligible in the last six seconds of the regular season may not seem like a big deal anymore, but it is. That was a boost of confidence that brought the Orange to the Texas Bowl, and got the team a bowl victory under all of the previous conditions. They know with a year under their belts, they have the potential to do bigger, and better things come the fall.
Hang in there, Orange Nation. The fall is going to be a wild ride on the gridiron.
Posted by: Austin Pollack