The Orange finished the season with an 8-5 record and its second Pinstripe Bowl victory in three years. But as a whole, what type of season did Syracuse have? It went from being a bust to a satisfying season for fans and players alike.
Winning 6 of the last 7 games of the season was a result of a strong offensive performance. In the final six wins, the lowest the team scored was 31 points. The passing game climaxed with the emergence of Alec Lemon and the running game was strong due to the Gulley-Smith tandem in the backfield that tore up West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. It thrived in the second half of the season after a shaky and frustrating start.
To me, this was the most impressive unit. Holding an offensive powerhouse like West Virginia to 14 points was a culmination of the season’s success. It may have let up some big plays, but it made plays and put pressure on opposing offenses when it needed to. The key was pressure from the defensive line. The big men up front like Deon Goggins and Jay Bromley put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stuffed the run against some talented backs like Ray Graham. The team even held UConn to negative rushing yards.
Special Teams: B
Ross Krautman had a respectable year kicking the ball. He converted on 15-of-23 field goal attempts and even hit one from 47 yards. Early on in the season, special teams was causing some headaches but as the season went on, it improved. Jonathan Fisher was a strong punter, averaging around 40-yards a punt, with a 58-yard long. And kick and punt returns were average.
Ultimately, I’m giving good grades to this team because of a strong finish to the season. The team struggled in many capacities during the first few games, but its resurgence is what gave the fans hope for the future. Orange Nation went from calling for a Marrone firing to worrying about him leaving for an NFL team. And its Pinstripe Bowl win was a great way to say goodbye to the Big East, giving the team some great momentum as it heads to the ACC.