And then there were two. So far we’ve had an even split with four offensive players and four defensive players (check out numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3). An offensive player takes the title of the second most important player on the roster, and that would be QB Garrett Shrader.
The former Mississippi State Bulldog took over for Tommy Devito prior to SU’s week 4 contest against Liberty. From there his performances featured both the highest of highs as well as the lowest of lows. For instance, Shrader put up 410 total yards in a thrilling victory over Virginia Tech, but couldn’t crack 100 total yards three weeks later against Louisville. That model of inconsistency won’t cut it if SU wants any hope of returning to a bowl game.
Why Syracuse Needs Him
Shrader plays the most important position in all of football. When he took over as the starter, his style of play gave the offense an entirely new look. Even with how big of a game-breaker Sean Tucker is, offenses run through their quarterbacks. If he is nervous or out of sync with his offense in the huddle, then the entire team will be nervous and out of sync. It’s near impossible to win without competent quarterback play if that says anything about how important Shrader is.
Best Case Scenario
There are two things that need to happen for Shrader’s best case scenario to play out. Firstly, he has to take the next step as a passer. He only topped 200 passing yards twice in his nine starts and never topped 250. That’s not good enough for a team that should have bowl aspirations. If he can take that next step, it will add a new, potentially lethal, dimension to Robert Anae’s offense.
Additionally, Shrader has to find some consistency in his play. This team can not afford to have him go off one game and play terribly another like a season ago. By that method, none of the coaching staff, his teammates, or the fans will have any clue what to expect going into every given game. That’s not a healthy recipe for success. Do you know what is? Playing at a consistent level week in and week out. That will make game-planning much easier for the coaching staff week-to-week, and make SU’s offense a lot more credible.
Worst Case Scenario
If Shrader has an ugly start to the season to the point where it’s really holding Syracuse back, well you won’t be seeing him on the field for long. In what could be a make-or-break year for Dino Babers’ job security, don’t be surprised if he is quick to give Carlos Del Rio-Wilson a chance if things go south. Don’t be mistaken as it is Shrader’s job to lose, but given the depth of this year’s QB room, he could be on a short leash. Shrader getting benched due to a lack of improvement in the passing game and newfound consistency is his worst case scenario.
And then there was one. Check back in tomorrow to find out who tops our list of Syracuse Football’s most important players.
Sunday, August 21- #10 Courtney Jackson
Monday, August 22- #9 Marlowe Wax
Tuesday, August 23- #8 Chris Elmore
Wednesday, August 24- #7 Duce Chestnut
Thursday, August 25- #6 Matthew Bergeron
Friday, August 26- #5 Damien Alford
Saturday, August 27- #4 Garrett Williams
Sunday, August 28- #3 Mikel Jones
Monday, August 29- #2 Garrett Shrader
Tuesday, August 30- #1 ?