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Three Reasons Garrett Shrader Should Improve in Year 2

Garrett Shrader took over as Syracuse’s starting quarterback in late September last season. The Mississippi State transfer had quite the introduction to the SU faithful. Shrader led the Orange to a thrilling walk-off win over new Tennessee Titan Malik Willis and Liberty. Over the course of Syracuse’s last eight games, Shrader’s performances were a mixed bag. There was his 400+ total yard effort against Virginia Tech. On the flip side, Shrader couldn’t eclipse 100 yards combined through the air and on the ground against Louisville three weeks later. So there were games where Shrader looked like the man to lead SU back to a bowl game, but there were others where he looked like Charlie Brown failing to kick the ball. Shrader had no consistency. Here are three reasons why that should change this year:

PRESSURE

Freddie Mercury and David Bowie are smiling somewhere because Shrader is under pressure to perform well to keep his job. Tommy Devito may have hit the road, but there is competition aplenty for Shrader to deal with. SU has been very active in the transfer portal for quarterbacks, bringing in Dan Villari from Michigan and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson from Florida. If healthy, Justin Lamson could give him a run for his money if he plays like he did in the spring game. Those are three very potent options to replace Shrader if things go awry. Considering Dino Babers’ squad hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2018, a change could come quickly if things go south. The pressure to perform should lead to a boost in Shrader’s play because he could find himself in a very similar position to Devito’s last season if he doesn’t.

EXPERIENCE

Shrader’s experience with his weapons could be a big help come September. There were times last year where it looked like he wasn’t on the same page as his receivers. At the end of the 1H against Virginia Tech, Shrader passed to Damien Alford on a first and goal. The wide receiver’s back was turned when Shrader threw it, and the drive eventually ended in a missed field goal. Plays like that should not occur this season. Shrader has had a full season to develop a rapport with guys like Alford, Courtney Jackson, and more. Add that to a full season of spring football as well as the summer ahead. That is a full season and a full offseason. That play against VT occurred less than a month after Shrader took over as the starter. Much more time has passed since then, so another play like that would not only be shocking, it would be inexcusable.

NEW COACHES

This Sean Tucker tweet says a lot about former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sterlin Gilbert:

Yikes. The good news is that new OC Robert Anae and new QB Coach Jason Beck have a proven track record. The duo led the third-most potent offense in the FBS at Virginia last year. Not too shabby. But that comes with very high expectations. Count on Anae and Beck being far more demanding of Shrader than Gilbert was last year. But also count on the duo helping Shrader out quite a bit. Cavaliers QB Brennan Armstrong threw for nearly 4,500 yards and over 30 touchdowns. His yardage mark was fourth in the FBS. That benchmark may be a little unrealistic, but Anae and Beck shouldn’t allow Syracuse to finish dead last in the ACC in passing yards again. The new coaches should rejuvenate SU’s passing game, which should help Shrader elevate his performance.

It’s basically now-or-never for Shrader. The pressure, experience, and more competent coaches ought to give Shrader’s play a bit of a boost. If that doesn’t do the trick, don’t be surprised if someone else is under center by the end of the season.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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