Well, this isn’t how we expected the season to go.
Way back when, in late-August, Syracuse fans had hope (albeit, some of it misguided) the Orange could catch lightning in a bottle in Dino Babers’ first year and potentially make a bowl game.
Behind a high-scoring offense and a young and developing defense, the sky appeared to be the limit for Syracuse’s potential. Five wins? Guaranteed! Six wins? Pshh, you got it! Seven – no, wait – eight wins? Hell, why not?!
Six weeks later, coming off an ugly 28-9 loss to Wake Forest, Syracuse now sits at 2-4 and is projected as an underdog in every single remaining game on its schedule.
In our original TNIAAM staff predictions, we all predicted the Orange would finish no worse than 5-7. Let’s see how things have changed.
John Cassillo (3-9)
I think we end up at about 3-9. I'd love to see better, mind you. But going into the year, I believe we may have underestimated just how much time this roster needs to improve into a group that can run Dino Babers's system.
On top of that, the schedule (which we thought was difficult going in) ended up being even tougher than advertised, with very improved teams like Louisville and Wake Forest, and even NC State potentially outperforming what we see on paper. Boston College looks like the last available win, but I'm hoping the Orange football product (on offense, specifically) at least continues to show progress as the year goes, even if we're still losing games.
Kevin Wall (3-9)
I just think the injuries in the secondary and on the offensive line have slowed the progress of the new systems being installed. At this point, I still believe Syracuse can muster enough offense to win at Boston College, but I don't see another win left on the schedule.
While the overall record is disappointing, I am still encouraged by what we've seen and am hopeful that the Orange can finally get the depth of talent needed to overcome the inevitable injuries that hit a team. Now if we can just work out the whole non-conference scheduling thing,...
Invisible Swordsman (3-9)
As we approached the 2016 season, I absolutely felt that this was a team that had at least 5 wins in them. Yes, we were implementing a dramatically different offensive scheme with players that may not be suited for it. Yes, we had a small and inexperienced defense that was being asked to go from an aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme that put way too much pressure on our defensive backs to a zone-heavy scheme that put way too much pressure on pretty much everyone. I naively looked at Colgate, USF, UConn, Wake Forest, and BC, drank a big glass of Orange kool-aid, and figured our uptempo offense alone could get us 5 wins.
Halfway through the season, I now realize our talent and new schemes are a bigger mismatch than I anticipated. There is only one team left on the schedule (BC, because #ORANGEEAGLE) that looks like a team we could outscore. And with that said, the weather-aided egg our offense dropped at Wake Forest suggests our ability to outscore opponents may be in question. Coach Babers has compared us to cake batter, and that we as a fan base are going to like the cake once it is baked. You got it Coach. I'm just going to activate my personal oven, let it pre-heat, and stick SU football in for 365 days at 350 degrees. I'll hope something tastier comes out when it's done. While I'm waiting, pass me another glass of that Orange kool-aid...basketball season is just around the corner, and I'm thinking we are WAY underrated!
Dan Lyons (4-8)
Overall, I don't think expectations have shifted too much for this Syracuse team. The offense is a bit more inconsistent than we'd probably like, but overall it is putting up the big yard numbers, if not point numbers, that we expected. The defense is pretty much everything that we've feared, although I do think there are some positive takeaways to be had from stops in the red zone.
Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Clemson are almost assuredly losses, but I remain optimistic that Syracuse can find two wins between Boston College, NC State, and maybe Pitt. Probably those first two. I'll say 4-8, though 3-9 remains in play. Ultimately, this season really isn't about the win total, as we've discussed plenty around here. Continued improvement and development on both sides of the ball is bigger, and next year we'll see if Syracuse can make a jump towards a bowl game.
Sean Keeley (3-9)
Let's be real. You can't tell me you think this Syracuse team looks like it will beat anyone other than Boston College right now. They CAN. Of course they can. They might find a way to sustain the offensive output or stem the defensive issues and give NC State or Pitt a run, but it's not something I'd put money on right now.
I do think this team can, and should, beat Boston College, though if it rains all bets are off. Other than that, I just don't see it. We take what we learned this season and we apply it to next year and that's all we can really do.
Ari Gilberg (3-9)
After the Wake Forest loss, a game so many Syracuse fans viewed as a “sure thing,” it’s time we face reality and accept the fact there is no such thing as a “sure thing” anymore – and that includes Boston College. Even predicting 3-9 at this point is going out on a limb. Syracuse’s defense is a mess, its special teams is inconsistent and the offense – which used to be prolific in spurts – was nonexistent against Wake Forest. Injuries and lack of experience are taking a toll. And with a difficult schedule remaining – Virginia Tech, Boston College, Clemson, NC State, Florida State and Pittsburgh – you have to ask yourself, “Where the hell are these wins gong to come from?”
Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech are ranked as the No. 3, No. 14 and No. 17 teams in the country, respectively, and are all guaranteed losses. Pittsburgh is 4-2 and listed as the No. 33 team in ESPN’s FPI rankings. NC State is 4-1 and has wins over Notre Dame and Wake Forest. After crossing off those two, that leaves Boston College (3-3) as the only team left on Syracuse’s schedule the Orange have a chance at beating. While Boston College is not a guaranteed win, its a matchup that favors Syracuse as the Eagles only average 19.5 points per game, and even without a defense, the Orange should be able to outscore Boston College.
How do you think the second half of the season will play out? And what do you think Syracuse’s final record is going to be? Leave a comment below.