Since 2018 when Eric Dungey led Syracuse to a 10-3 record and a Top-25 finish, Syracuse has had trouble with its offensive line. This past season the Orange gave up the most sacks in the Atlantic Coast Conference (38).
Of course, SU’s offense was riddled with issues, but Syracuse’s quarterbacks never had any time to stand in the pocket and survey the field. Eventually the coaching staff switched the passing attack to quick passes to the sideline, hoping receivers like Taj Harris could break tackles and pick up first downs.
Next season, Syracuse’s offensive line will be more experienced. But it will also have a new position coach. Mike Cavanaugh, who spent the last three seasons as the position coach has left for Arizona State. Former four-star offensive tackle Qadir White entered the transfer portal the same day.
Cavanaugh was the primary recruiter for all five offensive line commits in the 2021 recruiting class. Hawaiian coaches of Kalan Ellis and Austyn Kauhi’s both touted Cavanaugh as the reason the two recruits ended up choosing the Orange.
Some may not be too torn up about Cavanuagh leaving, since the O-line was horrendous last season. But head coach Dino Babers must get this hire right. SU’s offensive line won’t change overnight. And it generally takes a couple of years for offensive lineman to become major contributors.
But spring practices must be focused on teaching technique and playing as a unit. It would also help if the lineman had a feel for who the starting quarterback was, but that may not come until later in the offseason.
This position group has plagued Syracuse since Dungey’s senior season. And before 2018, the offensive line was anemic too. But for Syracuse to have a strong bounce back season, its offensive line must make huge strides. It probably won’t be average, but it can’t be the worst in the conference again.
The first step to correcting the issue is hiring the right offensive line coach.