With the Orange’s loss to Duke yesterday, the team has finally been eliminated from bowl contention. With two road games left, it’s nearly possible to call this season any kind of success. But, what will 2014’s team be remembered for?
The Year of the Quarterback:
From week one it seemed like the Orange’s offense was a total downgrade from last year’s unit. Terrel Hunt started the season’s first five games, but ultimately broke his leg late in the game against Louisville. The offense was already in shambles with Hunt under center, and many fans were calling for his job. But, when a combination of AJ Long and Austin Wilson took command of the offense, fans saw exactly how bad it could get. Through the first five games, the Orange averaged 409 total yards of offense. In the next five games without Hunt under center, the team only averaged 304 yards per game.
It got worse for Orange fans, however, as AJ Long was ruled out with nerve damage. The Orange then saw Wilson and fourth-string Mitch Kimble running plays out on the field, Saturday. It showed fans exactly what the quarterback position will look like in the near future for the team, and it doesn’t look too bright. The only question left is who becomes the starter once Hunt becomes healthy again, especially with bright prospects coming in.
Defense Doesn’t Always Win Championships:
As horrendous as the Syracuse offense has been this season, the defense has been as dominant. The unit has only allowed 349 yards per game, despite playing a very tough schedule that included a former Heisman Trophy winner and a couple Trophy hopefuls.
The defense is 27th-best in the nation in yards allowed. They have forced 2.1 turnovers per game, tied for 24th-best in the country. In addition, the team only allows 123 yards on the ground per game, 23rd-best in the country. Despite these impressive numbers, the Orange finds itself sitting at 3-7 through ten games due to the offense’s inefficiency. Senior leaders Dyshawn Davis, Cameron Lynch, and Brandon Reddish anchored the unit. The three players will be very hard to replace next year.
In his second year at the helm, Syracuse’s head coach certainly made his share of headlines this season. The most obvious case was his relationship with George McDonald. Shafer stripped the offensive coordinator of play calling duties midway through the season, sparking debate.
In addition to demoting one of his top recruiters, Shafer also made headlines for his lively postgame interviews. He mentioned ISIS, pounded the podium in disgust after being eliminated from bowl contention, threw his visor down in angst, and cycled his quarterbacks in and out of the game at will. He has compiled a 10-13 overall record at the school, although it feels much worse than that after this year’s disappointing result. While it is highly unlikely for Shafer to lose his job anytime soon (G-Rob coached here for how long?), the coach needs to have a good season next year if he wants to stay in good spirits with central New Yorkers.
Posted: Jason Weingold