Orange Watch: Suddenly, Syracuse football has a target on its back

DeVito ACC Kickoff 2019
Jul 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito speaks to members of the media during ACC Kickoff the Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Brad Bierman, The Juice Online.

Item: The ACC Monday released the annual preseason media poll of the predicted order of finish, and the school receiving the most votes after defending national champion Clemson being the Orange. What does it mean? Recognition of the fact that the program has arrived in the ACC in year seven of membership, the express lane pace engineered by Dino Babers’ master plan which requires recruiting players to his exact specifications.

It was certainly no surprise that Syracuse was finished to pick second in the Atlantic Division behind the big bad Tigers, who recruit as well as anybody with facilities that are similarly top-notch, by 290 total points among the 170 media members voting, the ‘Cuse even receiving two first place votes, and the following order of Florida State, N.C. State, B.C. Wake Forest and Louisville was our logical choice as well.

It’s the Coastal Division that is totally unpredictable, with all seven team receiving at least one first-place vote, topped by Virginia, then Miami, Va. Tech, Pitt, Duke, N. Carolina, and Ga. Tech. We think Virginia is ready to break through the pack although it is simply an educated guess, but we do not think Ga. Tech will not finish last under new coach Geoff Collins.

» Related: Syracuse QB Tommy DeVito: ‘We haven’t reached our full potential yet’

As for the Orange, senior defensive lineman Kendall Coleman and his returning 32 tackles (23 solo) last season, including 12 for a loss, echoed the mantra Babers has preached with the accompanying attention to winning as he explained pleasantries with the media in Charlotte last week at the league’s season kickoff event.

“Clemson’s a great team, they’re at the top right now, that’s undisputed,” Coleman succinctly told a hefty crowd around his interview table. “We put together one season of work that displayed we were good enough to come (in) second to them,” he continued. “But one season doesn’t define everything. We’ve got to go out there and establish ourselves as a consistent team that can do this all the time.”

In addition to the Orange’s meaty preseason predicted spot in the standings, no less than five SU players have been named to the watch lists for awards at their respective positions and/or have garnered national media preseason first-team All-American recognition, something that would have been unimaginable only five short seasons ago.

Individual preseason spotlights are led by sophomore safety Andre Cisco, senior running back Moe Neal, wide receiver/returner Sean Riley (switching to No. 1 from No. 10 this season), senior defensive end Alton Robinson, and redshirt junior center Airon Servais, with Cisco likely joining kicker Andre Szmyt and punter Sterling Hofrichter on the all-ACC preseason first team when it is announced on Tuesday.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 596 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.