Syracuse Orange Football: Looking forward into 2015 Season
The SU football team will begin the 2015 football season against Rhode Island in this Friday home opener. The Orange football team led by Head Coach Scott Shafer look to turn the page from a lackluster, injury-plagued, season that was the 2014 football season which ended with a 3-9 record. So what will be the make and break areas of improvement for the 2015 SU Orange football team.
Offense: New system and schemes under the direction of OC Tim Lester.
Coach Lester will unveil the new multiple/zone-blocking/west coast passing concepts offense for a dress rehearsal against the Rhode Island Rams. Much has been talked about how the current players have brought into Coach Lester’s offense. Now the Orange fans will get an opportunity to witness how well the offense uses the players and take advantage of their strengths going forward. The new position of focus in Coach Lester’s offense will be the use of H-backs to create mismatches for the defense.
– Senior QB Terrel Hunt is back from injury to take command of the new offense. This is Hunt’s team and he will need to show consistency and improvement in his ability to pass the ball and find playmakers like WR Steve Ishmael and WR Brisly Estime. Having Hunt as a focal runner in this offense will be recipe for disaster because there is not much proven game experience with the back-up quarterbacks
– The offensive line is the most experienced group on the team returning four players that have started games for the Orange. Senior Rob Trudo moves from right guard to center this season to be the anchor of the line. Senior Ivan Foy shifts from right tackle to left tackle replacing Sean Hickey. The newcomer to this year’s line will be walk-on Senior Seamus Shanley taking over at the right guard spot. How well the offensive line can create running lanes and be physical in the trenches will be the key to this system.
– Juniors Devante McFarlane and George Morris II will lead the running back position, but don’t be surprised if Freshman Jordan Fredericks works his way into the rotation after having a good fall camp. Sophomore Ervin Philips will be the featured H-back along with Junior Ben Lewis in the new offense. Bottom-line, both running backs and H-backs will need to be productive on the field to give the passing attacks an opportunity to take shots down field.
Defense: Aggressive but very young in key positions for DC Chuck Bullough
– The linebacker corps will be looking to replace two productive players from last year’s group in Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch. Sophomore LB Zaire Franklin will fill the middle of the Orange defense along with Parris Bennett and Junior Marqez Hodge playing the outside. The linebackers have the potential of being the strength of the defense with all the various zone blitzing called by Coach Bullough.
– The Orange secondary will be showcasing plenty of new faces including a few redshirt and true freshmen to get playing time. Senior CB Julian Whigham has the most snaps of any other starting secondary player but really struggled with coverage last season. Coach Shafer has been really high on redshirt freshman Rodney Williams prior to his injury during last year fall camp. With the aggressive style defense played by the Orange, the secondary will have to prove it can hold up with coverage and not miss assignments.
– The defensive line for the Orange took a huge hit from career ending injuries identified during the spring. The depth with the defensive line will be depending on a few true freshmen to play key roles. Junior DE Ron Thompson will be expected to bring the pass rush from the outside and allow Senior DT John Raymon and redshirt freshman NT Kayton Samuels to be the run stopping presence in the middle. True-freshman NT Steven Clark has the size and mobility to be a solid playmaker in the defensive rotation. My keys to a successful season for the Orange football team:
– QB Terrel Hunt has to become a more effective passer to force the defense from overloading the box to allow the running game more opportunities to gain yardage. If the offense can move the ball on the ground, it will provide a move balance playing calling around 55% run and 45% pass to control time of possession.
– The Orange offense must establish playmakers from every position, whether it’s the wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends. Coach Lester’s offense will not be reinventing the offensive football concepts, but it must be creative enough of a system to fit with the player’s abilities.
-The Orange defense youth movement will need to learn quickly and play good assignment football while playing the aggressive and attacking style. The defense must tackle better at the point of attack and get off the field. If the time of possession is in favor of the opponents, this young defense will not hold up for the entire game.
My season prediction: I think the Orange have the potential for a 6-6 finish.
Isaac Alford can be heard talking about Syracuse football on the Spadora on Sports radio program. His blog can be found at www.spadoraonsports.com.