Opponent: Syracuse Orange
Time: October 18th, TBA
Location: BB&T Field
Head Coach: Scott Shafer (7-6)
Series History: Syracuse 2-1 overall
2013 Record: 7-6
The Syracuse Orange are coming off their second straight bowl season. Let's take a deeper look into the offense head coach Scott Shafer.
Syracuse figures to be a very run oriented team, like they were last season. In 2013, the Orange ran the ball on 66% of standard down and 36.3% of passing down situations, both higher than average. The Orange will be returning the bulk of their offense, which resides in senior QB Terrel Hunt, who was effective on the ground and through the air. On the ground, Hunt will be the returning leading rusher. Last season he rushed for 577 yards on only 93 carries which was second to running back Jerome Smith, who declared early for the NFL draft. In the run game, I expect to see a lot of Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore though the main focus should be on getting Hunt out in space.
In 2013, Hunt completed 61% of his passes for a total of 1,632 yard, 10 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Syracuse really struggled through the air and without some young contributors they could have a difficult time in 2014. The receiving corps had a tough time breaking coverage, despite an offensive line that provided enough time. The offense fought to gain bulk yards through the air (5.4 yard per attempts) but this could improve after a solid wide receiver recruiting class coming in. The incoming class showcases 5 wide receivers, headlined by 4-star K.J. Williams and 3-star Steve Ishmael.
The offensive line will be a strength for the Orange as the majority of their projected starting lineman will be seniors. In 2013, the line did a great job of protecting the QB giving up a sack on just 5% of snaps, and only 2.6% of standard down plays (15th nationally). The line also had a Power Success Rate of 81% (4th nationally) and were the 27th best in Adjusted Line Yards. Though it will be difficult to replace 2nd Team All-ACC center Macky MacPherson.
Scott Schafer will begin his 2nd season at the helm after being promoted from defensive coordinator after Doug Marrone took the head coaching position with the Buffalo Bills. As a defensive coordinator Schafer was known for his tendency to bring pressure and put his secondary in press coverage. He has also spent time as a defensive coordinator with Western Michigan, Stanford, and Michigan.
Part two will be out tomorrow, where the 2014 Syracuse defense and special teams is broken down and a way-too-early prediction is made.