With about six weeks to go to the start of the 2021 college football season, I chatted with former Syracuse punter Brendan Carney on this week’s The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, hosted by SNY.tv, about his expectations for the coming season.
Of course, outside of Syracuse, not much is expected of a team that went 1-10 in 2020 and finished 127th in the FBS in offense at 17.8 points per game.
But while most polls will project Syracuse at the bottom of the ACC, Carney has set the bar higher.
“My expectations are that we’ll get to a bowl game and win it,” Carney says. “I expect this team to be ready and competitive in every game this year.”
One of the main reasons is that Syracuse has an experienced and deep offensive line. The Orange add transfers Chris Bleich and Jakob Bradford, and returns every major contributor from the offensive line from last year, minus Chris Elmore, who goes back to his natural fullback/tight end position.
Other reasons for Carney’s optimism include the position battle at quarterback between incumbent starter Tommy DeVito and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader.
“No one should be handed a starting role on offense after what we saw last year,” Carney says. “Competition is going to bring out the best in these guys. I want the best man to win and help the team win this year.”
One position that doesn’t have competition is Carney’s old position at punter. Carney, a three-time All-Big East punter who went on to play for the Baltimore Ravens, likes what he sees in redshirt freshman James Williams. With Nolan Cooney now fighting for a job with the New Orleans Saints, Williams is SU’s lone scholarship punter.
“I saw some film of his from high school and he looks good,” Carney says. “Given the redshirt year where he’s had a full year in the weight room, I expect to have this good run of punters to continue with James. I think he’s going to deliver with this team and he’s going to have a great year.”
In order for Syracuse to have a great year, it will need to dominate its non-conference schedule against Ohio, Albany, Rutgers and Liberty.
“I personally have Liberty circled after the loss last year,” Carney says. “These are teams we should beat. Outside of Clemson in the ACC, I don’t think anyone stands out as a team we can’t line up against and beat.”
Carney expects “six to seven” wins, and a bowl game, “hopefully somewhere warm,” (he says jokingly) as a result.
Afterward, TJO editor in chief Brad Bierman calls in to discuss ACC Kickoff. Notably, DeVito is not traveling with the team to Charlotte, setting off speculation that the quarterback competition is very much open.