The fast paced Syracuse Orange look forward to the 2018 season in hopes of finally seeing postseason play. Head coach Dino Babers has gone 4-8 in each of his first 2 seasons, and the Syracuse faithful are hoping for much more this year. Although the Orange might be in the tougher ACC division, it is time to step up. With a senior at the helm of the offense, it seems that Syracuse might finally be ready to take a step forward.
Senior QB Eric Dungey has been able to put up some incredible numbers throughout his career. However, he has been unable to play a complete season due to injury. In his 9 outings last season, the veteran QB was able to throw for over 300 yards 3 times. Dungey also finished the year with 2,495 passing yards. If he were to have played in the final 3 games, that number could have easily been over 3,000.
Both Moe Neal and Dontae Strickland are returning at the running back spot. More production will need to come from this group to see any more success. Dungey lead the team in rushing yards last season, which is not a good sign. However, much of the blame has to be passed on to the OL. The OL returns 3 of its 5 starters and also brings in TAMU grad-transfer Koda Martin. If this group can come together, expect for the running game to start to take some shape.
With the loss of Ervin Phillips and Steve Ishmael, the receiving corps turns to Devin Butler as their leader. Butler will be leading a very inexperienced group. But with a healthy Dungey will get plenty of opportunities to prove their worth. The Orange are also bringing in true freshman Ed Hendrix who could potentially see plenty of playing time this year. Dungey will also be looking to TE Ravien Pierce as an outlet. Pierce is sure handed and very athletic for the TE position.
The Orange are certainly hoping to improve on the defensive side of the ball this year, after ranking around 100th in almost every defensive category in 2017. However, the face-paced offense certainly takes a toll on a defense. One of the few bright spots is senior DT Chris Slayton. Slayton is a massive 320 pounds and can squat 700 pounds. That is one BIG dude. They also bring back a pair of pass-rushers in Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson. Robinson led the team in sacks last year with 5.
The linebacker corps was the strength of the Orange last season, but they lost nearly everyone in that rotation. However, Babers is hoping that they found some players in JUCO transfers Ryan Guthrie and Lakiem Williams. Only time will tell if this unit will be able to pull it together.
With depth in the defensive backfield, Syracuse should be much improved in pass defense. Starters Chris Frederick and Scoop Bradshaw are back at the corner positions. The 2 combined for 10 pass breakups last season. Safety Evan Foster returns in his starting role and the athletic Antwan Cordy steps in at the SS position. Cordy saw some reps at the slot position on offense, so he has excellent ball skills. He missed most of the last 2 seasons due to injury, but he believes that this could be his year.
After beating the Clemson Tigers last season, the Syracuse Orange proved that they can get the job done. When this offense is firing on all cylinders they can be extremely difficult to stop. If the offensive line is able to protect Eric Dungey and keep him healthy for a full year, this team can surprise some people. That is if the defense is able to keep them in the game. While this team will most likely be much improved, with their tough schedule it will be hard to tell. The Orange face off against Notre Dame, Florida State, Louisville, and revenge hungry Clemson. All of which are probable losses. After playing some great teams very tough this year, don’t expect anyone to take them likely. Unfortunately, I see the Orange falling just short of postseason play.