The Syracuse football season is getting closer and closer. In the lead-up to kickoff, we'll be previewing every position group on the Orange squad, making sure you're fully prepared for September 4. Today, we start with... people who aren't players at all. It's the...
Syracuse Orange Football Coaching Staff
Last we covered the Orange coaching staff in full, it was all the way back in December, just days after the end of a disappointing, 3-9 season. Our "stock watch" gave a glimpse at where the coaches stood following 2014, and what they'd need to do to stick around past 2015. This preview expands upon the future -- in particular, this coming fall.
Scott Shafer, Head Coach
If you ask Jim Boeheim, questioning Shafer's job security is the "most ridiculous way to think that (he's) ever heard in (his) life." But a step back from 7-6 to 3-9 warrants at least questions, and that's where the Orange head man starts off his 2015. If last year's (rash of) injuries can be avoided, he'll get an ample shot to prove his mettle (in-game, in particular) against a manageable slate of opponents. Where last year's team seemed to frustrate -- making adjustments, overall decision-making and a general lack of competitiveness -- this year's will need to show improvement, at the very least. And all of that falls on Shafer. Obviously the recruiting success helps too. But Shafer will (and must) be judged first and foremost on the results this squad's able to produce. That could mean some tough decisions too, which he's typically shied away from during his tenure.
Tim Lester, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
After a regrettable second half of 2014, we were... not high on Lester to continue as SU's offensive coordinator. We've heard some good things about his offense being"multiple" and for two-tight end sets, and a two-running back approach. All of these things seem to have us pointed in the right direction, but like everyone on this coaching staff, the on-field production is what's going to ultimately decide whether Lester passes or fails. In some respects, he'll have a low bar to jump over in comparison to 2014. In others, last season's shortcomings are going to be running side-by-side with whatever occurs this fall. The Orange get three very winnable games to start the year before the real work begins. Lester will have to get things started very quickly with this offense to stave off the fan base's worries.
Chuck Bullough, Defensive Coordinator
Bullough's one of the only SU coaches to come out of last season looking pretty accomplished. Despite being ravaged by injuries (just like the rest of the team), the Orange defense still managed to finish 27th in total defense and 37th in scoring defense. His blitz-heavy scheme was rarely over-matched, despite having to carry the load for a lackluster offense for the majority of every game's 60 (or more) minutes. But while previous units for Bullough have possessed a decent amount of experience to help carry them, this year's loses nearly everyone from 2014. He'll have his hands full, but if he can find another top-40ish defense with an inexperienced group of players, that could make him one of the nation's top coordinators.
Tim Daoust, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach
Like Bullough, Daoust has plenty of challenges facing him this season. Not only does SU turn over almost its entire defensive line, but the lack of depth his unit will have this fall is troubling, to say the least. Just one tackle -- John Raymon -- has taken a collegiate snap, and he's struggled to stay on the field throughout his Orange career. If Daoust can get this extremely green group looking like previous, aggressive D-lines, that could help take the pressure off an equally young secondary. "Next man up" will be the mantra (as it seemingly always is), while Daoust finds a way to shuffle things around and find a winning blitz combo.
Bobby Acosta, Wide Receivers Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
As we've previously stated, Acosta could be the team's most important coach. Since taking over recruiting, Acosta has shifted SU's focus toward higher-caliber prospects... and the Orange are actually winning (or coming close) in a lot of them. On the field, Acosta was sort of stashed away with tight ends last year, where he had minimal input given George McDonald's inability to get them involved in the gameplan. Now, coaching up the wideouts, Acosta will have ample opportunity to help develop a varied and young group of receivers. With a ton of players to choose from, it'll be up to Acosta to figure out which combination helps the Orange actually move the ball through the air this year.
Joe Adam, Guards/Centers Coach
On top of Acosta, Adam's also gotten himself a ton of recruiting wins since arriving at SU, but on the field, he has a much steeper hill to climb. Syracuse's offensive line must replace Sean Hickey and also find a way to stay healthy. Even when the entire group was on the field in 2014, things looked... rough, which some can attribute to McDonald's over-complicated schemes. Adam will now have a chance to prove that was true as he pushes this interior line to re-establish the Orange run game. There's a good mix of youth and talent there, though, giving Adam a chance to show what a difference he can make in a competent scheme.
Clark Lea, Linebackers Coach
The heart of the Orange defense for years, the linebacker corps. will have all the pressure on them to be that yet again in 2015. That's where Lea, who's well-accomplished as a successful position coach here at this point, can and should thrive, just as he had in the past. This year's linebackers are certainly young, but between injuries and blowouts in 2014, these players did get to see the field plenty. That should benefit them (and Lea's own success) as they're called upon to lead the Syracuse blitz- and turnover-happy ways.
Jake Moreland, Tight Ends Coach
Moreland is the only new face amongst the primary coaches, so he's the only one who really doesn't have any (SU) stock for us to gauge him on. With tight ends getting more involved in this year's offense, however, there should be a chance for him to show his value right off the bat. And whether that means actual tight ends, or H-back types lining up at tight end, a decent amount of eyes will be on that spot for early production. Coach, we have high hopes. Help them come true, please!
Fred Reed, Defensive Backs Coach
Is there a nice way to say Reed is or should be on the hot seat? The Orange secondary has been appalling in recent seasons, as big plays have taken precedent over actual coverage. I'd be remiss to avoid this nonsensical quote in the lead-up to the Maryland game, but that's really the least of this unit and Reed's respective worries. Despite last year's struggles, this team will find some difficulty replacing three of four starters, and it'll be on Reed to figure out how to get better production out of these young DBs. The optimistic view says it could be addition by subtraction. The pessimistic view says youth will mean even more struggles than before. Which will it be?
DeAndre Smith, Running Backs Coach
Smith's job had to have been frustrating last season, given the fact that he couldn't lean on one, two or even three backs to carry the load (thanks, terrible offensive scheme!). But now, with Lester's approach being much clearer about who will touch the ball, we'll get to see Smith establish an honest-to-goodness run game (hopefully). Some of that relies on offensive line play, but overall, Smith's been given a pretty simple task given the relative talent on the roster. Get George Morris II and Devante McFarlane a combined 30ish carries a game, and likely work Dontae Strickland in as well. That's really it.
There are plenty of actual changes on the football staff -- including the additions of names like Drew Robinson and Steve Gregory, among others. But given that it's tougher to qualify their on-field impact (and this article's already gone on long enough), we'll avoid those individual previews and just say we're happy to see more resources being devoted to special teams, in particular.
Anything else you'd like to get off your chest about this coaching staff, though? Share away in the comments.