The annual "anonymous coaches talk about say things about team X" thing is a time-honored college football tradition. Most of the time, it doesn't really mean anything. But sometimes you get some interesting nuggets out of it.
This year seems to be a mix of both.
Athlon Sports chatted with anonymous ACC coaches recently, and many spoke their minds about the conference's various teams, including the Syracuse Orange. We analyze (very much not anonymously) the relevant quotes below.
"I really can’t say I know much about them because they’re going to change everything."
Accurate, though I know a site that's been telling you an awful lot about them since Dino Babers was hired.
"Obviously Dino Babers is coming in there and they’re going to run the Baylor offense. I think they’re just short across the board talent-wise, but obviously the most important thing will be identifying their quarterback."
Guys, we're not talking about Baylor anymore... can't really deny the knock on talent, however. Very few Orange players received votes for the All-ACC team this year. And realistically, wide receiver Steve Ishmael is the only player that could probably find himself on the postseason team based on the number he should put up in this offense.
But are opponents really convinced that sophomore Eric Dungey isn't the quarterback right now? If so, this could get fun.
"They’re going to have to recruit for that style over the long haul, and that takes time to get the kind of receivers they want and get more speed on the perimeter."
Agreed. Good thing we have a slew of speedy receivers coming in for 2017. That doesn't help us now, however. So you'd probably be best served covering our top three wideouts, Ismael, Brisly Estime and Ervin Philips.
"Scott Shafer to me did a nice job. I understand what they’re doing with the change, but I don’t think you’ll find anyone in the league who thought he should have been fired. My goodness, they were playing a walk-on at quarterback because everybody else got hurt. But that’s the coaching business."
Scott, is that you? Could also be "good pal" Pat Narduzzi, I suppose. Either way, this is the excuse train, and also a veiled endorsement of Shafer continuing to lose to the top three quarters of the conference. No one denied that the team was put in a difficult spot from an injury perspective. But the staff also did some of it to themselves.
"They were really good on defense and Scott was a good coordinator so they played teams tough and they played good teams tough for awhile. But as far as the talent, they are who they are."
Really good on defense? Last year's defensive rankings, which should not take away from the great job Shafer did as a coordinator, but are still a very stern reminder of where things truly were:
90th in total defense, 99th in scoring defense, 78th in rushing defense, 101st in passing defense.
"Nobody else in the conference plays the way they’re going to play, so our staff is going to spend a lot of time watching Baylor because that’s exactly who he wants to be, and obviously you’ve got to look at his stuff from Bowling Green."
Ahem... with the Baylor stuff again. But yeah, good comparison points if you're trying to scout this team early on.
"Defensively they probably won’t be as good. They don’t bring back a lot on the defensive line; the linebackers are solid. They’re switching to a Tampa-2, which is a big change from the way Shafer did it where he had guys just running downhill all the time."
We can get worse on defense? Not sure my heart can take that.