With Syracuse less than a week away from kickoff, The Juice Online will be doing its annual week-long football preview. Check back in tomorrow as Jim Stechschulte breaks down the 2016 schedule.
Cole Murphy returns for his third season of handling placekicking duties for the Orange. Murphy made 16-of-22 field goals as a sophomore, lowering his career conversion mark to 76.3 percent, but did close last year strong by connecting on his final six attempts of the season. He also converted all 37 of his extra point attempts.
SU will miss punter Riley Dixon, who now is plying his trade for the Denver Broncos of the NFL. Redshirt freshman Sterling Hofrichter looks took step into his place. Hofrichter, who was both a punter and placekicker in high school, is yet to take the field for the Orange.
It remains to be seen how the uptempo offense will affect the kick return portion of special teams, as Brisly Estime was the primary return man for both kickoffs and punts last season and was quite effective in those roles. Estime averaged a solid 22.2 yards on kickoff returns, but was even more dynamic on punt returns, averaging 18.1 yards a return and bringing a pair back for scores. It remains to be seen if Dino Babers is willing to continue using Estime as a weapon in the return game, especially on punts.
Other players with kickoff return experience from last season include Jordan Fredericks and Dontae Strickland, who each averaged in the neighborhood of 20 yards a return.