The year of booming success may not be in 2014, but 2015 is definitely close.
With Scott Shafer set to begin his second season as head coach of Syracuse football, the program has gone through a number of changes. The obvious changes are the new conference, players, coaches, and the future addition of national powerhouse teams to the schedule, such as LSU.
It starts with recruiting. To be good, there has to be solid recruiting to get the next big name in the door. Considering the number of changes going into the 2013 season, the Orange showed potential. It showed the nation it could go 6-6 and win a bowl game even with a new style of Syracuse football.
That sets the stage for this year. Syracuse was young last year. Fortunately, after a successful year with a young team, most of the guys are returning, with even better young talent right behind. The national powerhouse teams have the nation’s best players—the 4- and 5-star recruits. Syracuse seems to always be in the middle of the recruiting game, with its mostly 3-star recruits. Here’s the plus on that: these players are secret weapons.
They are not big-name players like Jameis Winston or even Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. The Syracuse program gets the job done and the players are good because the stars are just a representation, not a true indicator. This is something that makes Shafer and his staff such great coaches. They take players and turn them all into weapons. His players come up when it matters most. For instance, Hunt does not really seem to have is a favorite receiver or target. This is a sign he is comfortable with everyone, and comfort is a huge target for success.
They prove to Shafer and the rest of the coaches that they were smart for giving them playing time because they do not disappoint.
One of the best examples of this comes from the final game of the 2013 season against Boston College when Josh Parris connected with Terrel Hunt on a touchdown pass to send SU into bowl eligibility. The best thing for Syracuse is that it is always another player doing something big and not the same receiver, defender, or running back over and over again on consecutive plays.
This program is really close. A bowl victory in the first year of a new era is a solid start. The second year gets underway in two weeks, but these secret weapons on the gridiron are only going to improve with time, and they are young. Syracuse fans can expect to see a similar style of play, and a number of different players making an immediate impact.
Syracuse is almost there. Right now, it is still floating around as an average team. Sooner or later, in the next few years, the Orange will learn different strategies. The first year was a good start for rebuilding.