#67 Syracuse Football 2016 Preview

Syracuse Orange
Overall Rank: #67
#12 ACC
Syracuse embarks on a new era once again as Dino Babers takes over as head coach of the Orange. Babers has done an excellent job everywhere he has been as a head coach at Eastern Illinois and most recently Bowling Green. Fans can expect a high flying fast paced offensive attack that will keep them in games this season. But the reality is there will be a bit of a rebuilding process for Coach Babers as he will need to get his personnel in place to really allow the Orange to return to the national scene as a strong program to be reckoned with on a regular basis.
2015 Record: 4-8, 2-6
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Dino Barbers (0-0 at Syracuse, 37-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sean Lewis, Mike Lynch
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jordan Fredericks, RB, 607 yards
Passing: Eric Dungey, QB, 1,298 yards
Receiving: Steve Ishmael, WR, 570 yards
Tackles: Zaire Franklin, LB, 81
Sacks: Zaire Franklin, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Antwan Cordy, DB, 2; Cordell Hudson, DB, 2; Corey Winfield, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB George Morris, WR Brisly Estime, WR Ervin Philips, LB Parris Bennett, DB Chauncey Scissum
Key Losses: QB Zack Mahoney, DE Ron Thompson, DE Luke Arciniega
There is experience back at quarterback as Eric Dungey will be looking to build off of a solid freshman season when he was healthy enough to play. Dungey has a nice mix of skills and is an accurate passer who can move around. His mobility will be a nice asset for him in this style of offensive attack. Steve Ishmael is the type of playmaker at wide receiver that should thrive right away and should easily blow the 570 receiving yards that he had a year ago. Brisly Erstine at inside receiver should also be very productive as the opportunities are going to be there for him to rack up catches very quickly in 2016. Linebacker should be another strength as the entire linebacking corps is back in 2016, led by Zaire Franklin. Cole Murphy is back to anchor the kicking game and has been very consistent throughout his career making 29 of 38 field goals.
The offensive line does not have a ton of experience coming back this season. Just two starters with any significant experience return in center Jason Emerich and right guard Omari Palmer. Patience will be a virtue this season for the coaching staff as they have to simplify the playbook just enough to buy time for this inexperienced offensive line to come together as a unit. Another problem in the trenches for Syracuse will be along the defensive line as they will be very inexperienced. Yet, there is a little bit of talent at defensive tackle. It will be very important for sophomore tackles Chris Slayton and Steven Clark to cause plenty of havoc up front right away. Pass defense is another concern heading into the 2016 season as the Orange ranked 100th nationally, surrendering 256.7 yards per game through the air. This number has to improve immediately if Syracuse wants to even be in the running for a bowl bid by the end of November.
The Bottom Line:
The Orange do open up their 2016 schedule at home for their first three games of the season against Colgate, Louisville and South Florida. A trip to Connecticut in week four is a potential upset type of game for Syracuse as they could go on the road and potentially surprise the Huskies if they can get their offense rolling right away. A neutral site game in East Rutherford against Notre Dame will be a very nice litmus test to see how far the Orange will have to go in order to compete consistently with the best of the best in college football. With increased productivity out of the offense there is no reason for this Syracuse team to not win at least 4-5 games in year one of the Dino Babers era. The question is going to be will they be able to stop anyone defensively on a consistent enough basis in order for the Orange to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.
Projected Bowl: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 163.2 (77th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 156.8 (116, 12)
Total Offense: 319.9 (118, 13)
Scoring Offense: 27.3 (77, 11)
Rushing Defense: 181.8 (78, 12)
Pass Defense: 256.7 (100, 14)
Total Defense: 438.5 (98, 14)
Scoring Defense: 31.0 (90, 13)
Turnover Margin: 0.42 (32, 4)
Sacks: 1.92 (78, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (49, 6)