#84 Syracuse 2018 Football Preview

Syracuse Orange
Overall Rank: #84
#14 ACC
 Syracuse Logo
On October 13th Syracuse beat Clemson to move to 4-3 on the season. It looked like the Orange would make their first bowl game since 2013. However, it was not to be and Syracuse lost their last five games. In that stretch the team allowed 64 points at home to Wake Forest and 42 at home to Boston College. Improving the defense is job one heading into 2018.
2017 Record: 4-8, 2-6
2017 Bowl: None
Coach: Dino Babers (8-16 at Syracuse, 45-32 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Lynch
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Eric Dungey, QB, 595 yards
Passing: Eric Dungey, QB, 2,495 yards
Receiving: Devin Butler, WR, 327 yards
Tackles: Evan Foster, S, 64
Sacks: Alton Robinson, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Evan Foster, S, 1; Chris Fredrick, CB, 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Moe Neal, RB Dontae Strickland, CB Scoop Bradshaw
Key Losses: WR Steve Ishmael, WR Ervin Phillips, LB Parris Bennett, LB Zaire Franklin, LB Jonathan Thomas, K Cole Murphy
Syracuse boasts some experience on the offensive side of the ball in most positions. At quarterback Eric Dungey is a three year starter, although injuries made those nonconsecutive years. In 2017, Dungey threw for 2,495 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding a team high 595 yards on the ground with nine more trips to the end zone. However, Dungey will be pushed by redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito. The offensive line has a lot of experience too and that will benefit the entire unit, especially running backs Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal. The big concern on offense is at wide receiver where Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips need to be replaced. Those two combined to catch 194 passes for 2,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. Devin Butler is the only receiver returning who played a significant role on the team last year and there will be a lot of pressure on underclassmen to fill some roles out wide.
The Orange struggled defensively last year, ranking 13th in the ACC in total defense and 14th in scoring defense. The front four should be very good in 2018. Chris Slayton is a superb tackle and both Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson return to the end spots. After struggling to get to the quarterback in 2017, it could be a strength in 2018. The secondary is also quite experienced, but it is virtually the same group that has given up a slew of big plays. Junior cornerbacks Chris Fredrick and Scoop Bradshaw must be more consistent. The big losses are at linebacker where Zaire Franklin, Parris Bennett and Jonathan Thomas need to be replaced. Coach Dino Babers went and picked up some junior college transfers to help fill the void.
The Bottom Line:
The pressure is starting to build on Coach Babers as he enters his third season with the Orange. This is the year many hope they will make a bowl and Syracuse can continue with their plan. However, there are some big questions on both sides of the ball. The offense is solid, even with some new receivers, but the defense is the larger concern. They need to not only clamp down and avoid giving up big plays, but they need to make some big plays of their own and help bolster the ACC’s worst turnover margin.
Projected Bowl: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 161.5 (70th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 294.8 (18, 2)
Total Offense: 456.3 (23, 3)
Scoring Offense: 27.4 (75, 9)
Rushing Defense: 196.7 (98, 12)
Pass Defense: 247.3 (97, 11)
Total Defense: 444.0 (105, 13)
Scoring Defense: 32.2 (98, 14)
Turnover Margin: -1.00 (122, 14)
Sacks: 1.33 (112, 14)
Sacks Allowed: 2.67 (104, 14)