Syracuse football filled some massive coach openings in offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck. We’re still waiting for an official confirmation from SU Athletics but all signs seem to indicate that Anae and Beck will join the coaching staff ahead of the 2022 season. So what have they done to get to where they are now and can they improve this putrid ‘Cuse offensive attack?
The former Virginia Cavalier offensive coordinator, tight ends, and inside receivers coach has 15 years of experience leading offenses. Anae and former UVA head coach were adjoined at the hip spending 14 seasons together between time with the ‘Hoos and BYU. In Anae’s 32-year coaching career, he’s been nominated for the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, three times. So Anae certainly has a resume worth looking at but why has he been successful?
Prior to when Mendenhall and Anae arrived in Charlottesville in 2016, UVA had never had a 3,000 yard passer. In Anae’s six years, the Cavs had three different passers of such caliber. Now Mendenhall is a defensive guy through and through so most of, if not all of the credit should go to Anae for achieving this milestone. Who compiles trio of 3k yard passers? Those would be Kurt Benkert, Bryce Perkins, and Brennan Armstrong. *For reference, SU has only had one 3,000 yard thrower, ever…
SU fans may or may not be familiar with the latter two talented passers, it has been a few years since the Orange and Cavaliers have met on the gridiron. Perkins was a guy just looking for a shot to play high level football. He rose from the JUCO ranks to start for the Cavs in 2017 and turned into a phenom. Anae and Beck had Perkins playing so well he belonged in categories with other signal callers like Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray.
In 2018, Perkins and Murray (the Heisman Trophy winner) were the only quarterbacks that passed for over 2600 yards and ran for 900 more. In 2019, Perkins joined Hurts as the only players to gain 3,000+ yards through the air and bully for 700 in the run game. It should come as no surprise that Virginia emerged as one of the best teams in the ACC and won the Coastal in 2019 en route to a New Years Six bowl game.
Brennan Armstrong took the reins from Perkins in 2020 and did so wirh zero dropoff. In just nine games of work, Armstrong garnered over 2,100 passing yards with 552 more on the ground and 23 total touchdowns. Those numbers skyrocketed in 2021 and not just because the left-hander had three more outings. Armstrong boosted his numbers to just under 4,500 yards passing, 251 rushing, and 40 total touchdowns. To put that into perspective, Armstrong would be Syracuse’s school record holder for passing yards BY A LONG SHOT. Ryan Nassib holds the standard at 3,749 which he set in 2012. Not bad for Armstrong though, a guy from Shelby, Ohio who didn’t even get a sniff from Ohio State.
This is just what Anae has done at UVA, he also mentored Taysom Hill at BYU previously who is as dual-threat as they come. One thing on that, the Cougars had two different 1,000 yard runners in 2013 in Hill and current Detroit Lion Jamaal Williams. The same was nearly done by Syracuse this year with Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker. The point is, Anae has plenty of experience working with two prolific runners and should have the ingredients to turn this ‘Cuse attack into a five-course meal for any defense in the ACC.
Beck needs to be talked about in the same light as Anae. The quarterbacks coach has been with the offensive coordinator every step of the way at both UVA and BYU. He’s trusted and needed so much that Dino Babers needed to snag both coaches, not just one. The former Cougar signal caller never really was given the opportunity to shine in the spotlight as a player. Beck served as the backup to former BYU All-American John Beck between 2004-2006. However, Beck has found that success on the sideline.
As Anae’s disciple, Beck has experienced the success of the aforementioned Taysom Hill, Bryce Perkins, and Brennan Armstrong, amongst others. He’s already had previous experience as an OC as well, albeit at a Division 2 school. Beck seems like a rising star in the industry and is destined to get a Division 1 gig leading an offense at some point. Perhaps that comes after one more successful stint but this time at Syracuse?
With Anae and Beck holding the script, quarterbacks averaged 3,200 passing yards, 524 rush yards, and 3,725 yards of total offense between 2013-2020 between BYU and UVA. Armstrong’s illustrious 2021 numbers would only pad these stats further.
In summation, this is absolutely a home run hire for Syracuse. A lot of potential names floated around and began to be poached really early on in the coaching carousel. SU was making no moves on that front, but you know what they say “patience is a virtue” and is certainly paid off in this case. Mendenhall stepped down unexpectedly at UVA and now here we are. The Orange have their guy in defensive coordinator Tony White now the onus falls upon the ‘Cuse offense to pick up the slack on the other side of the ball. On paper, it looks like Anae and Beck can do that and then some for this team in 2022 and beyond.
Sit tight Fizz Nation, this time next year we will be sitting here talking about a Syracuse bowl game. That’s a guarantee.