Last week the Fizz took a look at three specific actions on the field that could lead to success in 2021. Now it’s time to break that down from a positional standpoint. Sure, the lists intersect in some aspects, but the lists are different in their own ways. With this in mind, Dino Babers needs these three position groups to excel this year if Syracuse is to have any hope of making a bowl game.
Once Taj Harris left the program, there was no go-to wide receiver last season for Garrett Shrader to throw to. That can’t happen again. The offense was far too one-dimensional a year ago, in large part due to the lack of an apparent alpha in the receiver room. Whether it be Damien Alford, Anthony Queeley, Courtney Jackson, or someone on the roster no one expects, someone developing into the top dog would be a game changer. Heck, even if all of them step it up a little bit, it’s going to make opposing defenses that much more intimidated. A boost in the play from receivers will lead to a boost in play from Shrader, and it’ll make life much easier for new offensive coordinator Robert Anae.
When you have a generational talent like Sean Tucker, under no circumstances can you punt it away. But make no mistake, the Heisman candidate’s success starts with strong blocking from his line. Even though Tucker set the school record for rushing yards last year, he’s the first to admit the importance of the men up front.
That wasn’t the last time Tucker commended his offensive line in his postgame tweets. And it’s not just the running game in which the offensive line is important. The unit gave up 33 sacks last year, which was in the middle of the pack in the ACC. If this unit protects Shrader, it will also help the position group mentioned above succeed. Simply put, the offensive line boosting its play would be a win-win, it’ll boost both the rushing and passing game.
The passing offenses that Syracuse is set to face this year are dynamic. Whether you look at Malik Cunningham at Louisville, Aidan O’Connell at Purdue, Brennan Armstrong at Virginia, or Devin Leary at NC State, there’s talent up and down the schedule. That’s only scratching the surface. Statistically, SU’s passing defense wasn’t too shabby last year. The Orange gave up the second-fewest passing yards in the ACC a season ago. A similar placement this year would go a long way, and the team has the studs to do it. With veteran Garrett Williams leading the charge and a chance at improvement for guys like Duce Chestnut and Justin Barron, it’s right there for the taking. With the talent at quarterback Syracuse is going to face, the performance of its defensive backs could determine the success of the defense as a whole.
There you have it. If SU doesn’t get good play from its receivers, offensive line, or defensive backs, it’s going to be a long season. But if the opposite is true, the Orange could be headed to a bowl game for the first time since 2018.