Yes, the opener is seven months away. Yes, there are still many unanswered questions about the roster (transfer portal among other things). But as the offseason chugs along, it’s never too early to break down what the fall might look like.
First and foremost, you have to remember that the coaching staff has an entirely new look. Gone are Robert Anae, Nick Monroe, and Tony White among others. Sure, the offense veterans are familiar with Jason Beck, but up until the Pinstripe Bowl he had not served as an offensive coordinator at the Division I level. However, the defense isn’t worth worrying about considering Rocky Long is the godfather of the 3-3-5 scheme we’ve grown accustomed to. It may take a few games for the offense to gain its rhythm…
But considering the first few games aren’t exactly difficult, that’s ok.
Colgate is an FCS opponent and Western Michigan is a Group of 5 team that you’re playing at home. Two games that should be chalked up as Ws here and now. Once the Orange travel to West Lafayette for a rematch with Purdue (after a wild one last season), that excuse goes out the window. Especially since ACC play will be right around the corner. Sure, you have two really tough games against Clemson and Florida State, but there are a lot of winnable games. The question will likely be can SU beat two of Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest?
Finally, for as bad as the recruiting class is and all the talent the program lost, a lot of returning production is set to return. The Garrett Shrader-to-Oronde Gadsen combo should be fun to watch once again. LeQuint Allen showed flashes of brilliance in the Pinstripe Bowl (and in garbage time against Wagner). Defensively, Marlowe Wax appears ready to lead the unit. As much as we’d all love to see Garrett Williams, Matthew Bergeron, and Sean Tucker back in Orange next year, they have bright futures ahead and there are players who seem capable of holding it down in their stead.
If this team can get out of its head and play disciplined football, a second straight bowl appearance is not out of the realm of possibility. Ambitious? Maybe a little bit, but as the first half of 2021 showed, it could be a feisty group.