2013 ACC Previews: Syracuse
By Eric Russell
As the college football season draws closer it is time to take a look at each team in the ACC and their outlook for 2013. We will look at what to expect from your favorite team and what it will take for 2013 to be a success. We will follow the predicted finishing order released during ACC media day, alternating between the Coastal and Atlantic Division. Next up is Syracuse.
Head Coach: Scott Shafer (first season)
Last Season: Syracuse got off to a rough start last season. The team started out 2-4 before winning six of its final seven games, including a victory in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl over West Virginia. The up-and-down 2012 campaign featured a big win over Louisville, the ninth-ranked team in the nation at the time. However, the offense struggled at times (the loss to Minnesota is an example). The Orange finished fourth in a mediocre Big East conference, but they did win their second bowl game in three seasons. The last time the Orange saw that kind of success was between the years of 1999-2001. First-year head coach Scott Shafer will look to expand that success in the much tougher ACC.
Key Losses: Ryan Nassib, arguably the best passer in Syracuse history, set the single-season record for passing yards and touchdowns last year. He also led the Big East in yards per game with 288.4. Nassib and the Orange ranked 29th in the nation in pass offense. Now the team will choose a signal-caller from a pool of untested candidates.
What To Expect On Offense: At this point, its not certain if Shafer even knows what to expect from the offense this season. One thing Shafer has yet to decide is the quarterback to run the show. Adding to the drama in the quarterback competition is the addition of transfer Drew Allen. A transfer from Oklahoma, Allen has already garnered the attention of some around Syracuse and has thrust himself into the competition as a legitimate candidate for the starting role.
One thing that is a certainty for the Syracuse offense is the need for running back Jerome Smith. He will be a key factor in taking some of the pressure off whomever wins the quarterback job. Some Syracuse fans griped about Smith being left off of the preseason All-ACC team, but he'll get a chance to back their claims this year.
What To Expect On Defense: Shafer considers himself a defensive coach, and his tactics are part of the reason the Syracuse defense has been so strong in recent years. The Syracuse defense allowed only 24.8 points per game last season. The marked put them at 47th in the nation among defenses and would've been good enough for fourth last season in the ACC.
First-year defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough isn't expected to stray far from some of the philosophies Shafer employed during his time as the coordinator. The two both favor a 4-3 scheme and like to blitz. Shortly after being named the defensive coordinator, Bullough said one of the good things about Syracuse is that Shafer's scheme is basically his scheme. So Syracuse fans can expect more of the same from the defense this season.
Breakout Star: Senior defensive tackle Jay Bromley has made it clear that he wants to make a name for himself this year. He finished last season with 37 tackles in an injury-plagued year. The 6-foot-4 290 pound lineman recently said he re-dedicated himself, which could mean trouble for the opposition.
Big Games: The Orange open the season with four non-conference games before they kick off ACC play by welcoming Clemson to the Carrier Dome. The matchup with the Tigers will be a tough start for Syracuse in the ACC, but should prepare them for the games to follow. The Nov. 23 game against Pittsburgh will also be big. By that point in the season they may be teetering on the edge of bowl eligibility.
Outlook: The media was a little harsh picking the Orange to finish second to last in the Coastal Division. Although they have issues to sort out before the start of the season, Syracuse could very well pick up some key conference wins and return to a bowl game this season.
Predicted Record: 6-6 (3-5 ACC)