College Football Preview: The 2015 Syracuse Orange
Syracuse Orange Preview
2014 Record: 3-9 (105th of 128)
Odds to Win National Championship: +150000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: Scott Shafer and the Syracuse Orange look to bounce back after a poor 3-9 season in their second year in the ACC. Syracuse is still a program that’s looking for consistency, but it may take some time after being thrown into a far better conference. Either way, Syracuse has to show more fight after its worst season in over five years.
Offense: Syracuse’s offense ranked 13th in the ACC last season and offensive coordinator Tim Lester is the guy to try and change things. The good news is that Terrel Hunt returns at quarterback, a dual-threat player who brings experience and playmaking ability to give this unit a spark. The bad news is that the Orange lost majority of their running production and their top receiver. Ervin Philips will see a far expanded role in his second season and Devante McFarlane looks to build on last season in which he averaged six yards per carry. Steve Ishmael will slide into a No. 1 role after hauling in three touchdowns on 27 receptions and Brisly Estime needs to be far more consistent in order for speed to pay off. Syracuse returns four offensive linemen and has an experienced quarterback, but needs other guys to step up in order for this offense to take flight.
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Defense: Syracuse returns only three starters from a solid defense that finished sixth in the ACC. The Orange are missing their top-two tacklers and one of their better playmakers in Eric Crume. There’s a ton of production that needs to be replaced and a lot of youth will be counted on. The good news for Syracuse is that Ron Thompson returns along the defensive line, a guy who has 11.5 tackles for loss the last two seasons. The Orange have something special in linebacker Zaire Franklin and Julian Whigham is quite motivated to rebound after a lousy junior season at cornerback. Syracuse needs Marqez Hodge and Corey Winfield to have breakout seasons. Bottom line is that Syracuse’s defense may take a major hit if a lot of these young guys don’t hit the ground running.
Special Teams: Riley Dixon returns at punter after averaging 42.4 yards on 75 attempts. Cole Murphy returns at kicker after making 81.3 percent of his kicks on 16 attempts.
Overall: Syracuse has a new offense and a defense that will feature almost a new face at every position. The only great thing the Orange have going for them is that there’s an experienced quarterback leading the way. Let’s just say I’d be surprised if Shafer finds a way to lead Syracuse to a bowl game for the second time in three seasons.