It might have been the most disappointing yet expectation exceeding season in Syracuse Orange football’s history. Despite winning more games than projected the Orange fell short of bowl eligibility in a manner that left fans puzzled about the future.
Anyone who spent time here last Fall saw that calls for patience and calls for a new head coach were both fairly common. In the end Syracuse decided to stay the course with Dino Babers but everyone knows the pressure is on to have a winning season in 2022. Since the season ended we’ve seen several positive signs that Babers has recognized needed fixing and that’s encouraging as we head into next week’s National Signing Day.
After watching the offense struggle against tougher competition Babers parted ways with Sterlin Gilbert and as we wondered which former colleague he’d bring in to run the offense a bit of good fortune fell into Syracuse’s lap when Virginia Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall decided to step away. Suddenly the offensive duo of Robert Anae and Jason Beck were available and now the Orange had the architects of one of the nation’s most-explosive offenses coming north.
Special teams failed the Orange too often in 2021 and after a season without a full-time staff member leading the unit Babers brought in Bob Ligashesky to lend his experience. An injury to punter James Williams forced the use of walk-on kickers in key situations so Babers added insurance to the position by pulling Max von Marburg from Australia in this year’s class.
After saying that he wasn’t sure how many transfers he’d pursue, Babers went into the portal and added players to bring depth to several positions. The Orange will add a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and two defensive backs to compete for jobs this Spring. They also secured a commitment from coveted recruit Francois Nolton, Jr who became Syracuse’s highest-rated player in the 2022 class. Will there be another surprise addition before next week? We know the coaches are on the road so we’ll keep an eye out.
In-game decisions were also a hot topic in 2021 especially in the Wake Forest game. We wondered how Syracuse was using data to drive these choices and this week they have posted an opening for a Director of Football Analytics. The new position will be doing more than giving Dino feedback on 4th down decisions but helping a program that needs to work smarter to close the gap on the rest of the ACC. We know Syracuse can’t throw the type of money around that other P5 programs do so finding ways to work smarter in recruiting, development and preparation is important.
Will these changes lead to a bowl appearance in 2022? It’s not an easy task but we are excited to see that actions have been take to address weaknesses in the program.