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Wake Forest Football 2018 Season Preview: Syracuse

Syracuse is picked by most to finish near the bottom of the ACC, but don’t sleep on them too much. They have at least one incredible weapon in senior QB Eric Dungey, who could very well be this year’s John Wolford.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse football is in an interesting position. Head Coach Dino Babers isn’t doing terribly per se, but from what I can gather, Syracuse fans are starting to get a little bit restless Coming off a 4-8 season, the Orange notched the 62nd best offense but only the 99th best defense.

Pretty much every Syracuse game was a high scoring affair for one side, the other, or both, and a lot of that was due to Syracuse’s explosive passing attack. the 22nd best according to Football Study Hall, and even better for the Orange, their all-everything senior QB Eric Dungey is coming back. Dungey was an absolute monster, notching 2495 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 749 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. That’s well over 3000 all purpose yards and 25 touchdowns. Holy cow.

Now, there were problems. Not only did Dungey throw 9 interceptions, he was sacked a LOT. Dungey ate 26 sacks in 9 games, and that doesn’t even factor in hits he took on scrambles.

Unfortunately for the Orange, there’s another pretty notable problem. Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips, the two leading receivers for the Orange who accounted for over 2000 yards and 11 combined touchdowns, not to mention being targeted for over 60% of Syracuse’s passing plays, were both seniors last season. The cupboard isn’t bare or anything, but losing a dynamic duo of receivers like that is pretty massive, and even if the Orange eventually get it together, it might take a while.

On the defensive end, Syracuse’s two leading tacklers by a comfortable margin, linebackers Parris Bennett and Zaire Franklin, who accounted for 91.5 tackles (11 for loss) and 63 tackles (5.5 for loss) respectively both also graduated. The next leading tackler was DB Evan Foster, who accounted for 56 tackles, only 1.5 for a loss (not shocking for a DB). By the way, their third leading LB, Jonathan Thomas, also graduated.

So what this tells us is that the front 7 of the Orange is absolutely gutted. That could be a big problem for the Orange on their already mercurial defense. The rushing defense of the Orange was pretty much bang on average, but that could plummet with the loss of their linebacker corps. While Syracuse’s passing defense isn’t losing as much, they were a little bit below average last season.

I’m honestly not entirely sure what to make of Syracuse’s prospects. Dungey is an absolute freak, plain and simple, and I’m shocked he’s not getting more All-ACC buzz. But in almost every other capacity, an already slightly below average squad at 4-8 is taking some major losses.

Wake won last year’s outing 64-43 in the Carrier Dome (no, that’s not a basketball score). It’s interesting, because the Orange still have their QB but lost their bigtime receivers, while Wake Forest has remained relatively consistent on offense EXCEPT for QB. In that sense, the teams are almost inverses of each other. We shall see how these things click when the two teams clash again this year, this time at BB&T Field.

What are your thoughts on Syracuse? Sound off in the comments, and as always, Go Deacs!