It's almost time for spring football! Syracuse starts things off on February 25 at the Ensley Athletic Center. And as we prepare ourselves for another season, we'll spend some time previewing everything that matters on and off field for the Orange. Today's topic:
Assessing the Impact of Coaching Staff Changes
Plenty has changed compared to last spring, and even if the staff's overall shifts seem minimal. the end of February should mark the beginning of a new approach -- most notably for the offensive side of the ball.
Who's no longer with the program?
As you're already aware, offensive coordinator-turned-wide-receivers coach George McDonald left Syracuse to take the same role with fellow Atlantic Division school NC State. We worried about the impact of this move on recruits, and it ended up being minimal. We'll see what happens through this next full cycle, however.
Who's new, and what else has changed?
After McDonald was demoted last year, (then-QB coach) Tim Lester was elevated to the offensive coordinator position, and following a rough second half of the season, he was retained in the role for 2015. Replacing McDonald as wide receivers coach is a familiar face: Bobby Acosta. Coaching tight ends last year, Acosta's big impact was on the recruiting trail, where he firmly planted the Orange right back into New Jersey. With Acosta moving up to wideouts, Scott Shafer hired Jake Moreland to fill the tight ends coach role.
What happens to the offense under Lester in year two?
"Hopefully something better than what happened in year one"... But seriously, there will be some changes that could lead to positive results. Lester's said numerous times that he'll be implementing a two-tight end attack this season, so the spring will have the Orange planting the early seeds of that new approach. While things didn't go well in 2014, the common excuse was that Lester wasn't "calling his gameplan." Now with an entire offseason to lay the groundwork for "his gameplan," let's see how things begin to take shape.
How does Acosta's role increase on the staff?
While he may not be McDonald in terms of wide receivers coach experience, Acosta's still been plenty involved with wideout development over the years, and perhaps his tutelage is just what the young Orange receivers need. Acosta's largest value right now is in the recruiting game, but with a bigger part of the offense under his domain now, perhaps he steps up and begins to display some gameday acumen.
What does Jake Moreland bring to the table?
A former tight end himself, Moreland should be able to provide a hands-on approach for a crowded group of players at that position, and help them assimilate well into Lester's planned offense. Among the biggest benefits of Moreland working under Lester is that the two already have a rapport from their playing days, when the latter used to throw passes to the former at Western Michigan. That connection could lead to quick assimilation for the new Orange TE coach, who will have his hands full early on as he gets his bearings at SU.
About that pressure...
Even with the changes moving to the forefront of the conversation for now, the underlying theme of spring -- and fall as well -- will be the demand for success across this staff. After a plunge to 3-9 in 2014, there's no more room for error for Scott Shafer's staff, and you'll likely notice staff rhetoric address as much. It's now or never for this group. If they're smart, they'll try out a lot of different things this spring in order to fail fast (as needed), and quickly redirect to a different approach.
What else are you expecting from the coaching staff this spring? We didn't include the defense above due to stability on that side of the ball, but could there still be some new wrinkles added in? Chat away in the comments...