Syracuse's Tim Lester almost installed his offense mid-way through last season, upon taking over the offensive coordinator job, according to a post from Syracuse.com's Stephen Bailey today. While Lester and Offensive Line Coach Joe Adam did strongly consider starting from scratch during a 2 a.m. brainstorming session, the two decided it was just too much for a struggling, injured team to handle. Said Adam:
"It was discussed, but we were at a point where we didn't feel like it would give our kids a chance... I think maybe we had a 25 percent thought process, but when you look through experience and list all the things that need to be changed, it was just too much information for the kids."
And the above does make sense. As the article points out, Terrel Hunt had just gotten injured, which would've meant an incredibly steep learning curve for one or all of Austin Wilson, A.J. Long and Mitch Kimble, all of whom had never taken a snap before last year. Offensive line and receiver injuries also kept coming, further pushing the idea out of their minds.
With those factors, and a 2-3 record through five games, I suppose I agree with Adam and Lester. The team still had a chance to turn things around, even if the on-field product had looked rough to that point. Why throw out the whole season just to install something they may or may not catch on to in time?
It's a tough game to play, in hindsight. Syracuse wound up playing better than expected against Florida State in a loss the following week. Then beat Wake Forest to get to 3-4. You certainly don't scrap things at that mark, especially with Clemson coming up next. The loss to Clemson showed offensive ineptitude, BUT the Tigers were the country's best defense and we still lost by just 10. A second-half meltdown caused the loss to NC State... you see where I'm going here. If we were going to implement the new system, where was that supposed to be if we wanted it to result in success last year?
And if we wanted it to help yield success THIS year instead, it's also tough to say where that happens. If you wait until you're 3-7 after losing to Duke, that's two games of reps in the new offense, with a ton of reserves, many of whom won't be starters this year either. On the other hand, there was no way we were going 3-0 to close the year after the NC State loss, so maybe cut your losses and bring in the new O then? That way, at least if you end up at 3-9, there's an excuse. Again, this is all with the benefit of hindsight -- something the coaches certainly did not have in 2014.
Looking beyond the notes above, the staff does seem to understand the pressure they're under to produce this season. And are reminded -- like we are -- every day, of last year's failures. They're optimistic and realistic all at once (especially in the case of Adam), which... you sort of have to respect. We will, obviously. As long as there's progress shown on the field this season.