A Preseason Look at Syracuse

Dino Babers enters his sixth season at the wheel of the former juggernaut steamroller – THE Syracuse Orange. Babers, in his time at the ‘Cuse, is 24 – 36 (13-29 conference (C), 10-7 out of conference (OOC) and 1-0 in bowl games). His high-lite season was 2018 – 10-3 (6-2 C. 3-1 OOC & a bowl win over West Virginia). Do the math. His other four years is nothing to write home about. But it was the first 10 win season since Paul Pasqualini coached the Orange to a 10-3 season in 2001.

I was in Heinz Field for the thrilling Pitt victory in 2018. (Thanks Ike) Of course, the Orange were overrated and Cuse QB Tony Dungey was hung over after spending the prior night drinking under the Tarentum bridge. I can see the allure of drinking under a bridge. I spent the vast majority of my Friday and Saturday nights high school years drinking under the Emsworth bridge. Good times. Life was good.

Babers was one of four ACC coaches hired in  2016 – Fuente at Virginia Tech, Mark Richt at Miami, Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia (VA) and Babers. Mendenhall is secure. Richt is gone. But Fuente and Babers are on the hot seat. Both have two years remaining on their contract. If neither does well in 2021, Fuente is probably gone but Babers may get another year due to the contract buyout.

There were 13 Power5 (P5) head coaches hired in 2016. Only six are still at the school that hired them. Smart (Georgia), Campbell (Iowa State) and Mendenhall (VA) are safe. I do not know enough about Clay Helton at Southern Cal to say if he stays or if he goes.

On to the schedule:

Pitt plays Syracuse during Rivalry Week aka Thanksgiving weekend. Due to the four ACC/SEC match-ups and the Virginia/Virginia Tech, North Carolina/NC State rivalries, the remaining six ACC play a rotating schedule of “rivals”. Since Pitt entered the ACC in 2013 (excluding the 2020 covid year), this is how the ACC has scheduled the “rivalries”.

NCAA team and individual stats for the 2020 season. The names that are color coded have left the program.

Less than stellar recruiting. An across the board Numerical Rivals Ranking (NRR) of a 5.5 – 3*.

Any Transfer Portal (TP) pickups?  Yes, two.

Shrader started seven games as a true freshmen in 2019 under former HC Joe Morehead. When Mike Leach became head coach at Mississippi State in 2020, Shrader never saw the field. He entered the TP and may be the Syracuse starting QB either this year or next. Here is Shrader’s 2019 stats and the 2020 Syracuse QB snaps.

Here are the players to know – returning 2020 All ACC and Athlon 2021 preseason picks.

LB Mikel Jones is good. Sean Tucker is not a bad running back. That wraps up the recruiting, TP entries and names to know portion of my review. On to the player losses.

Who did Syracuse lose to the NFL?

Two Defensive backs drafted and a third signed as a free agent. Makes you wonder why they were ranked 11’th in the ACC defense passing stats (95’th in FBS). Maybe something to do with Cisco opting-out late in the season.

Any losses to the TP? Yes, 16 in total.

Based on 24/7 TP activity, only four have found a new home. The most interesting is 2021 signing recruit Landon Morris. (Morris is the second 2021 recruit to leave an ACC team. Louisville has the other.)

Morris believes he was misled by the Syracuse recruiting staff on his use as a tight end. He was under the impression that he would be more of a wide receiver.

Syracuse freshman TE Landon Morris enters transfer portal, says role didn’t align with SU’s recruiting pitch (247sports.com)

So, if you are looking for a TE who is not interested in blocking , Morris may be someone up your alley.

That is all I have on Syracuse.  Sorry for not having this earlier. I spent three nights at my local casino. Then I found out as I was driving home Thursday that my grandson was named the starting QB for his defending Class 4A state champions high school team –  AC Flora. He has not played a down of HS football since ninth grade. He started on his JV team but as the upback in an I-formation on offense and as a linebacker on defense. (Flora lost their #1QB to graduation and back-up to relocation.)

The football coach asked the baseball coach if he had anyone on his team to come in and back-up the remaining QB. Grandson won the starting job and did OK. One TD pass and did a good job of handing the ball off on the other scoring drive. Flora won and while I have reasons to complain, life is still good. (Actually, a pretty sloppy game for both teams.)