Syracuse Orange head coach Scott Shafer is in trouble.
No, it isn't that his team is currently on a three-game losing streak--though, that's not good. It isn't because his starting quarterback has turned from solid leader/college quarterback to a quick flash in the pan--though, it isn't ideal this is happening either. It also isn't that his offensive coordinator's head is bigger than his britches--though... Crap, just give me Nate Hackett.
The biggest trouble Shafer is in is the Orange (2-3, 0-1 ACC) have lost that hard-nosed chip on their shoulders, which carried them through a fantastic run at the end of last season.
If you're a consistent follower of 'Cuse football you know what I am talking about. There's something different, attitude-wise about this year's squad compared to last year's, and the attitude change was apparent as soon as the Orange stepped onto the field against Villanova in the opener.
Don't know exactly what I mean? Last year, SU had to earn every inch of what they got. That was Shafer's motto and Hunt took that to heart leading his team with that attitude.
This season, mainly on offense, I see very little of this attitude. The attitude now: "We proved ourselves last year, so this year we're going to try and play above and beyond our capabilities." This way of thinking, especially when you don't have the talent of a Florida State, Clemson or Louisville, leads to everyone sucking.
Things look to be moving way too fast for the Orange offense. There's no fluidity. Just sparks of great plays, which are stalled by dumb penalties; errant throws (Seriously, why the hell is Hunt trying to chuck the ball into tight spots like he is Peyton Manning? Do we forget this is only his second year starting?); and frustration, which seeps into every aspect of the program--players, coaches and most importantly fans.
The switch in attitude could be attributed to the loss of running back Jerome Smith, who played so well you needed to feed him the football all the time. It could be that offensive coordinator George McDonald still thinks he can do no wrong, and that attitude rubs off on Hunt. It could be the defensive coordinator keeps sending nine players blitzing at a time, which works one-third of the time, however, the other two-thirds of the time it blows up in his face; especially when defenders can't tackle.
There's no right or wrong person to finger point at. Everyone, coach or player, should be held accountable and asked to fix whatever the hell they need to fix. This needs to happen, because let's be honest, this team should have beaten the Maryland Terrapins and should have beaten the Louisville Cardinals on Friday night.
Instead, everyone is pissed. (And, that's not a fun attitude to have.)
The Orange better get back to their chip-on-their-shoulders way quick, or this season will be long gone before they know it.