Once again, the Orange enter the season staring up at the rest of the Atlantic Division in the ACC. The question revolves around how much they can do about it.
Syracuse is not without star players, as running back Sean Tucker, linebacker Mikel Jones, left tackle Matthew Bergeron, and cornerbacks Duce Chestnut and Garrett Williams all earned various preseason honors coming into the 2022 campaign. Can they lift the level of play of the rest of the roster to push this team toward bowl eligibility?
For all of Tucker’s brilliance and quarterback Garrett Shrader’s ability running the ball, the SU offense was almost equally as bad through the air. The Orange mustered 153 passing yards per game last season while their quarterbacks were sacked about once every ten dropbacks. And that was behind an Orange offensive line that returned five starters last year, one-upping the unit this time around.
Robert Anae is the newest offensive coordinator to try his hand at creating a successful offense at Syracuse, looking to resurrect a unit that has not finished among the top half of FBS schools in the past three seasons. Can he take a weak receiver corps and turn them into an effective unit that can lift the offense?
The defense helped keep Syracuse in a number of games last season, but the line is undergoing almost a complete overhaul this year. Can the young guys up front help a strong linebacking unit keep making plays while a deep, experienced backfield covers opponents downfield?
Tony White, the defensive coordinator whose 3-3-5 defense has been quite successful during his short time at SU, faces probably his stiffest task yet, as he tries to develop and piece together an effective defensive line to free up a talented and experienced back eight.
While optimism springs as it always does, a tough schedule awaits. Only two games look like wins on paper as the Orange try to climb up the ACC ladder.
It all leads to an unpleasant proposition for head coach Dino Babers. Syracuse finished last year 5-7 with three losses coming by just a field goal. Bowl eligibility was right at the team’s fingertips, but slipped through them.
As a result, it looks on paper like any improvement the team makes in 2022 means they will become bowl eligible. But, with a pretty tough schedule, the team could be improved, even significantly so, but once again staring at a losing record and sitting out the postseason.
That’s the likeliest end for the upcoming campaign. Pencil in the Orange for 5-7 again and another long offseason.