#68 Syracuse Football 2017 Preview

Syracuse Orange
Overall Rank: #68
#12 ACC
It was an eventful first season for head coach Dino Babers in 2016 as he embarked on rebuilding the Syracuse program. The Orange did have a high-flying offense at times which resulted in an upset win over Virginia Tech. However, at the end of the day defense still was an issue as Syracuse could not consistency slow down opposing offenses on a weekly basis.
2016 Record: 4-8, 2-6
2016 Bowl: None
Coach: Dino Babers (4-8 at Syracuse, 47-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sean Lewis, Mike Lynch
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dontae Strickland, RB, 566 yards
Passing: Eric Dungey, QB, 2,679 yards
Receiving: Ervin Phillips, WR, 823 yards
Tackles: Paris Bennett, LB, 110
Sacks: Chris Slayton, DT, 4.0
Interceptions: Rodney Williams, FS, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Steve Ishmael, LT Cody Conway, LG Aaron Roberts, C Colin Byrne, RG Evan Adams, RT Jamar McGloster, DE Kendall Coleman, DT Steven Clark, DE Josh Black, MLB Zaire Franklin, SLB Jonathan Thomas, CB Christopher Frederick, SS Daivon Ellison, K Cole Murphy, FS Antwan Cordy
Key Losses:  WR Anna Etta-Tawo, WR Brisly Estime, DB Corey Winfield,
Syracuse was not consistent enough running the football to allow their up-tempo offense to really take off. Injuries took a big-time toll on the offensive line and as a result five first year starters played most of the snaps up front. Eric Dungey is back at quarterback and the key for Dungey will be staying healthy. Makenzy Pierre is a highly regarded incoming freshman that should help take pressure off of Dontae Strickland at running back and create an excellent 1-2 punch in the running game. Ervin Phillips and Steve Ishmael will anchor the wide receiving corps and should have plenty of opportunity to produce some nice numbers and stretch opposing defenses all season long. The Orange also will have enough depth at wide receiver to withstand major injury as Jamal Custis and Devin Butler have very nice speed and could cause some matchup issues as well.
It is going to take some time for the talent level on the defensive side of the football to emerge as Syracuse simply does not have enough depth in the trenches. Chris Slayton is back at defensive tackle and will look to improve upon his four sacks from last season. Zaire Franklin and Parris Bennett will lead a linebacker group that will have to carry this defense all season long. Franklin is very good at stopping the run and if he can elevate his pass coverage skills and create some turnovers it would be a huge plus for the Orange in 2017. Antwan Cordy will be returning at free safety after having his 2016 season cut short due to a broken forearm in week two. Cordy is going to have to lead a secondary that will have several new faces to help fit into the Tampa-2 scheme more effectively.
The Bottom Line:
It is going to be crucial for Syracuse to start the season fast as they have three winnable games to start the season against Central Connecticut State, Middle Tennessee, and Central Michigan. On September 23rd, Syracuse will travel down to Baton Rouge to take on LSU followed by another road trip to Raleigh to play NC State. If Syracuse can get out of September at 3-2 or 4-1 that will be an excellent accomplishment. Another swing game in the schedule is on October 7th against Pittsburgh as Syracuse will look to atone for its horrific defensive showing in a 76-61 loss to the Panthers to end the season last November. This schedule is one of the toughest in the country over the final nine games, but if the Orange can get to November with four or five wins then a bowl game could be in reach in 2017.
Projected Bowl: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 119.6 (115th in nation, 13th in conference)
Passing Offense: 321.3 (11, 2)
Total Offense: 440.8 (42, 6)
Scoring Offense: 25.7 (90, 10)
Rushing Defense: 225.0 (108, 13)
Pass Defense: 276.1(118, 13)
Total Defense: 501.1 (122, 14)
Scoring Defense: 38.6 (120, 14)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (75, 10)
Sacks: 1.33 (115, 14)
Sacks Allowed: 3.17 (119, 13)
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#185 Tommy Devito