The Syracuse Orange football team has had its ups and downs through nine games of the 2021 season, but the one thing they’ve been most of all is interesting. SU’s close games — win or lose — have kept intrigue high, even if it’s detrimental to our health. The other thing helping retain attention: Record-setting performances.
We’ve already had various looks at Syracuse’s record books this fall. But with the Fightin’ Byes on the slate this week, we figured what’s one more before we get to the end of the year?
Tucker currently has 1,267 rushing yards for 2021, which already gives him the third-highest single-season total in school history. Just Walter Reyes (1,347 yards in 2003) and Joe Morris (1,372 yards in 1979) are ahead of him, and given his average of 140.8 yards per game, he’s on pace to set the Orange’s all-time mark against Louisville next Saturday. If he keeps his average above 124.7 yards per game, he’ll set the new school record for yards per game in a season.
While Tucker is currently the leading rusher in the FBS, he’s trailing Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III by about eight yards per game. If Tucker can pass him by the end of the year (going to be near impossible if the Spartans make the Big Ten title game and/or College Football Playoff). he’d be the first SU player to lead the nation in rushing yards in the last 65 years.
Tucker’s already set an Orange record for most 100-yard games in a season with eight, and most consecutive 100-yard games with seven. With 11 100-yard games for his career already, he’s currently tied with Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Delone Carter for sixth in school history. If he can tally three more in 2021, he’ll tie Reyes for third with 14.
His 11 rushing touchdowns this year are one way from a tie for eighth place in school history (for a single season), and he’s nine away from Reyes’s 20 from 2003. At 201 attempts already in 2021, he’s already within shouting distance of Larry Csonka and Joe Morris’s Syracuse record of 261 in 1967 and 1981, respectively.
Tucker’s 1,505 yards from scrimmage and 167.2 yards per game both lead the country right now by about six yards per (over Missouri’s Tyler Badie). Keeping up this pace would not only set the Orange record with 2,006. But it would also make him the first Syracuse player to lead the country in yards from scrimmage in the last 65 years — though it’s notable that Floyd Little led the country in all-purpose yards, with 1,990 in 1965.
Speaking of rushing... Shrader already has 670 yards on the ground this year, putting him just 143 shy of Bill Hurley’s single-season school record for a quarterback. Shrader’s per-game average says he’ll surpass the mark in two weeks. But we’ve also seen Shrader hit 130 or more three separate times. If Shrader gets to 100 yards in each of the final three weeks of the season, he’ll be one of just 12 Orange players to pull that feat off six or more times in a year.
Notably, Shrader’s become the go-to ball-carrier near the goal line and that’s led to fewer opportunities for Tucker touchdowns. But since Shrader’s been so effective, it’s also led to him scoring 13, with nearly two per game when he gets significant snaps (so the last seven contests). He’s on pace to finish a TD or two shy of Reyes’s single-season mark of 20. But with a bowl, it could wind up being pretty close.
While the Orange kicker hasn’t had the easiest year (by his or any standard), he’s still managed to etch his name in the SU record books a few times.
He has the most career field goal makes at Syracuse with 63, and the fourth-most attempts with 75. At 84%, he’s still the most accurate kicker in school history, hovering above Patrick Shadle’s 80% career mark.
Szmyt also has 157 successful extra points over the course of his career, which is second in Orange history — only behind Nate Trout at 195. He won’t be able to catch Trout, but he can continue to pad his lead over No. 3 (John Biskup with 132).
With a veteran defensive line in place this season, we thought someone could certainly break through — and that player wound up being former McNeese State transfer Cody Roscoe. The senior has gotten to the quarterback eight times already in 2021, and two more sacks makes him the 13th player in school history to collect 10 in a season. Getting three more ties him with Jamie Kimmel (1983), Jerry Kimmel (1985) and Rob Burnett (1987) for sixth on the single-season list with 11.
Roscoe also isn’t far off from the top 10 tackle-for-loss seasons since 1994 (when they started counting them). He has 11 right now through nine games, and tallying four more would tie him with James Wyche (2004) and Brandon Sharpe (2012) for 10th.
As you figured with Tucker and Shrader highlighted so heavily above, Syracuse was probably doing pretty well running the ball, and you’d be correct. On the year, the Orange have amassed 2,229 yards on the ground already (average of 247.7 per game), which puts them just outside the top 10 single-season totals in school history. Keeping up their average for three games gives them 2,972, which would be third-best in school history. But a bowl game would mean 1959’s 3,136 yards are within reach — albeit in several more games. The ‘59 team averaged a whopping 313.6 yards per game that year.
Notably, though, this year’s team could set Syracuse’s new mark for yards per carry. The 1959 team currently owns it at 5.33, and the 1960 squad is the only other one in school history to average more than five. This year’s is at 5.73 so far.
On the defensive side, SU’s third in the country right now with 32 sacks. That puts them just 11 behind the record pace of 2018’s 43, a mark they’ll come close to tying through 12 games if they stay on pace with nearly 3.6 per right now. A bowl game (the same advantage the team had in 2018) would likely facilitate surpassing that total.