College football analyst Phil Steele’s annual preseason rankings were recently released, and he gave some mixed messages about the 2023 Syracuse Orange.
In the first year of the ACC’s new schedule model, Steele predicts that the Orange will finish 10th in the conference, tied with Boston College and Virginia Tech. The veteran prognosticator has Clemson winning the ACC while he expects Virginia and Georgia Tech to finish at the bottom. It should be noted that offensive line experience is a big part of Steele’s model, so it shouldn’t surprise fans to see Syracuse where he has them.
Steele does feel that Syracuse will start 4-0 and make a bowl game for the second consecutive season- something the Orange haven’t done since 2012-13. He projects that Dino Babers’ squad will face the 63rd-toughest schedule in the country, which is a bit easier than 2022’s (and 2024’s projects to be a much easier OOC slate).
The rankings also include a breakdown of position groups. To no one’s surprise, the Orange linebackers rank the highest among ACC schools as Steele has them 5th in the conference and 30th nationally. After that, he feels the quarterback group (“The Ex-SEC’s”) are 6th best in the conference and 26th nationally.
That last part might shock some of the Syracuse fans who fail to admit that how much the Orange’s slide last fall coincided with Shrader’s injuries. It also shows that entering the summer with three top-50 recruits in the position group is better than having nothing beyond the starter.
Steele lists the revamped Syracuse coaching staff at 7th in the conference as he’s a big fan of the Rocky Long hire. Oronde Gadsden helped the wide receivers to the 10th best group in the ACC while the other Syracuse positions were as follows: running backs (No. 12), offensive line (No. 12), defensive line (No. 10), defensive backs (No. 14) and special teams (No. 13).
Steele also listed some individual honors in his preview, He has Gadsden as 1st-Team All-ACC and a 3rd-Team All American. Wax is a 2nd-Team All-ACC linebacker and Trebor Pena is 2nd-Team All-ACC for Special Teams. Both Caleb Okechukwu and Kalan Ellis are listed as 4th-Team All-ACC.
What do you think of Steele’s predictions? Which of the Syracuse position groups do you think might surprise this season?