August means that the Syracuse Orange football season is upon us. Syracuse will report to camp this week and after a day of media tomorrow, practice begins on Wednesday. While news and access will remain limited during the pre-season here are a few things we’ll be watching for this month.
The New Offense
Robert Anae and Jason Beck were successful with different style quarterbacks at Virginia (and BYU before that). Can they turn Garrett Shrader into a true dual-threat quarterback? While Mike Schmidt continues to lead the run game, it was clear down the stretch that the Orange needed a stronger passing game to keep defenses honest. Opposing coaches said that the offense had become predictable and easy to plan for so this new leadership could give Syracuse an edge on Louisville in the opener.
We know that Steve is going to closely follow the offensive line combinations as the spring ended with the Orange trying to find the best five-man unit. On the other side of the ball an inexperienced defensive line was given some additional options with Josh Hough and Garth Barclay moving over and with Hough now listed at 310 pounds it seems that the staff is serious about giving him a look at the interior on the 3-3-5. We’re also going to have a deep pool of players looking to crack the rotation at wide receiver and defensive back. With the coaching staff on thin ice they won’t be afraid to throw players into the mix if they show the ability to contribute to wins.
Garrett Shrader was at ACC Media Day telling everyone that it was his team and with Justin Lamson’s spring injury it appears that Shrader has a big edge heading into camp. However the Orange have added two P5 transfers- Dan Villari and Carlos Del-Rio Wilson. Shrader’s going to have to start strong this year or else Dino Babers will be making his second straight September quarterback change. Can the transfers or JaCobian Morgan show enough in camp to push Shrader to win the job rather than have it handed to him?
Special teams bounce-back
Going without a coach last season was a disaster. Syracuse addressed this with the hire of Bob Ligashesky and has an experienced kicker and long-snapper to build with, but the Orange need to find a punter who can handle the pressure. While Syracuse has managed two return touchdowns over the last two seasons they need to find consistency week in and week out. Winning the field position battle would greatly benefit a team that lost several close games last year.
What are some of the storylines you want to know more about as practice begins? Which players are you keeping a close eye on?