In fact, it's that time of year again. T-shirts and shorts can still be worn, classes start in less than a week, and your Syracuse football team is wrapping up their fall camp for 2023. After an action-packed offseason in which fans and the community as a whole waited with bated breath to hear about LeQuint Allen's status and a few key players were added at the last minute, the roster seems to have settled down a bit heading into the first game.
We've seen that this team's highs and lows can be very big, especially once ACC play starts. With that in mind, let's talk about three reasons why this Orange team could be bowl eligible again this year, which could do a lot for Dino Babers' job security and three reasons why they might not be able to win a second straight season and make Babers' already-hot seat even hotter.
Before Super Bowl 58, which will start around 6:30 p.m. ET on February 11, 2024, you will be able to use NFL betting apps to choose from thousands of different ways to bet on the super bowl before the game kickoff. They will have a lot of team props, player props, and unusual props, like the coin toss.
Three Reasons They Will Make a bowl game
#1. As expected, Garrett Shrader will take a big jump
Shrader was a mystery last year. In September and October, he looked like one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in college football. His five-touchdown showing against UConn got him on the Davey O'Brien Award Midseason Watch List. But when the ACC season started, his play went downhill quickly, and injuries were a big part of that. Even so, it can't be that your main quarterback only completed 31% of his passes against Notre Dame, FSU, and Wake Forest, which are the most important games in a conference.
This year, Shrader is one of the most talented and experienced quarterbacks in the ACC. Without Sean Tucker in the backfield, it will be up to him to make sure that SU's attack is fast and effective. Shrader's health isn't quite back to 100% yet, but I like the way he's treating his surgically-repaired elbow by testing its limits and letting him stack reps with his receiving corps. He's also being careful about his pitch count and aware that they want to keep him healthy for the tougher part of the season.
Keeping Beck on staff is a huge win not only for him and how comfortable he is running the offense, but also for the players around him who need to know the playbook and their parts in the offense. We don't know yet who can be a steady second threat to Oronde Gadsden, but Isaiah Jones, Damien Alford, D'Marcus Adams, and Trebor Pena are all good choices.
#2. The team's game schedule
You can only play the games you have in front of you, and SU's games in the second half of the 2022 season were not very kind. They dodged a pretty big bullet when they faced a ranked NC State team without their starting quarterback, but even without that, they started the season with three of the first four games that were toss-ups going into the season (Louisville, Purdue, and UVA) and a tough October-November stretch that included three ranked teams.
This year, you still have your three-week stretch with Clemson, North Carolina, and Florida State. Aside from that, nine games look like they could be won. Phil Steele, a famous college football expert and prognosticator, said that SU had the 12th-hardest schedule last year going into the season, but this year he says that the SOS is only the 67th-hardest. This, along with the fact that there was only one real toss-up game in the first four (at Purdue), should help this team get ready for conference play.
#3. Syracuse's experience in terms of pain
In the age of the transfer portal, Syracuse did about as well as it could have. They kept their main quarterback and best-skill position player and brought back a whopping seven starters on defense. Experience is more important than ever in college football, and there are a lot of guys who played last season, which was like a roller coaster ride. That should help Syracuse figure out what went wrong last year and make sure it doesn't happen again.
On defense, players like Caleb Okechukwu, Kevon Darton, and Isaiah Johnson, who is in his fifth year of college football, have been in school for four to five years. Even guys like Stefon Thompson, Marlowe Wax, and Jason Simmons, who had already started games for several years. This year's SU football team, especially the defense, should have a lot of confidence because they won't be facing anything they haven't seen before.
Three reasons they will not make a bowl game
#1. Syracuse's pass rush woes
Even though this defense has a lot of good things, it seems to be losing speed and length off the edge the most. Already, the 3-3-5 isn't the best formation for bendy, skinny EDGE players who would have a hard time stopping runs. However, as football becomes more and more pass-oriented, you need someone on your defense who can regularly put pressure on the other team's quarterback.
Since Steve Linton and Jatius Geer left (hey, transfer site! ), SU doesn't have any proven speed at EDGE, and Mikel Jones is now with the Los Angeles Chargers, so that's three of your top five sack-makers from last year gone.
Caleb Okechukwu had the most sacks on the team last year with seven, but he is still a bit of a mix between a DT and a DE who wins with power and is better at beating guards than tackles. Also, Terry Lockett is still getting better from a knee injury that ended his season, so Okechukwu could face more double teams and slide protection.
#2. Syracuse's run game worries
Sean Tucker was a great back behind Garrett Shrader, which was one of the main reasons I didn't like him being RB2 and getting over 150 runs last year. Also, Shrader has some of the most powerful legs in the ACC, but he took a lot of hits and tucked and ran a little too much for my taste, so he only averaged three yards per carry.
Tucker's absence would make Shrader's legs and ability to keep this offense flexible a little more useful, but without Tucker as a backup, Shrader's health will be much more important than it was last year. LeQuint Allen is an exciting back whose performance in the Pinstripe Bowl gave fans a lot of reasons to be hopeful. However, it is still unclear how he will handle being a bell-cow back with that many runs, especially if he can do it between the tackles.
LeQuint must demonstrate his ability to successfully manage 15-20 carries, while Shrader must pick his places more carefully. In my opinion, the run game should be additive to this passing approach with OG and the company until it can demonstrate that it can advance the chains reliably.
#3. Offensive line group
So far, the offensive line has been a little shaky, which is another reason why I'm not sure I can count on the running game this year. When a key player like Matt Bergeron leaves a team, you can be sure that the level of play and stability will go down.
Although Enriquez Cruz has so far been an excellent stand-in for Berg, you can't rely on him to constantly dominate his opponents as Berg did. Other than that, I believed Kalan Ellis was your second-best lineman last year, but he didn't practice the two days I was there, and Emily Leiker of Syracuse.com didn't list him as a starter.
So that is a case to keep an eye on. Big General J'Onre Reed has been one of the best things about camp. He is working at center and competing with Josh Ilaoa, who hasn't played a lot of games. David Wohlabaugh came from the SEC, so he should be able to start right away. But more than any other position in football, and maybe in sports in general, the O-Line has to work together and move as a unit, and I don't see much of that from them with less than two weeks to go. They have some good parts, but it's a big change from last year. Ellis and Bergeron were this unit's biggest strengths last year, but now they seem to be nothing but questions.