Head coach: Scott Shafer
2014 Record: 3-9; 1-7 ACC
2014 Bowl: N/A
2015 Returning Starters: 4 offense, 3 defense
Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +250000
Odds to win 2015 ACC Title: +4500
Regular Season Wins: Over 4 (-105); Under 4 (-125)
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Terrel Hunt headlines Syracuse’s attack again, but this season he’s expected to focus more on pocket passing in the mold of Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
The Syracuse Orange feature Terrel Hunt at QB again (after suffering a fractured fibula mid-way through last season), but the RB corp is undergoing a big turnover and it lost two-thirds its backs to graduation. Devante McFarlane and George Morris II will be the primary backs in the attack now, while both Erv Philips and Ashton Broyld will also take handoffs from the halfback position. There are some talented freshmen to factor into the mix, though, as well.
At WR, Steve Ishmael is the only proven option (27 catches for 415 yards last season). He started last year as a true freshman and will have junior Alvin Cornelius lining up opposite. Cornelius had just three receptions last year but he looked really good in spring. Brisley Estime is a lightning quick WR but he struggled with ankle and foot injuries last season. Quinta Funderburk will not be back and is transferring to Norfolk State.
The Orange lose LT Sean Hickey to the NFL and will look to replace him with senior Ivan Foy, who played primarily RT in the last two seasons. Rob Trudo is going to slide to C to replace John Miller, but the unit has to stay healthy this season. It started 10 different OL last year and some stability would certainly make this unit stronger.
Syracuse replaces seven of its eight leading tacklers from last season. Only Ron Thompson brings any experience up front and he’ll be sliding back to DE after playing out of position at T last year. He had 32 tackles including seven for loss, while also recording three sacks in 2014.
At the other DE Senior Donnie Simmons and redshirt junior Luke Arciniega are both options. On the inside the Orange return two seniors in John Raymon and Wayne Williams, but both have spotted injury pasts.
Payton Samuels and redshirt freshman Chris Slayton will round it out. The Orange lost two starting LBs and junior Marqez Hodge will move from the middle to the weak side. Mike Franklin had 44 tackles last year as a true freshman.
The Orange lose all three starters in the secondary including all safeties. Senior CB Julian Whigham is experienced but he wasn’t good at all last year, so that’s not really necessarily a great thing. Overall, the defense really just has a lot of work cut out for itself.
Senior punter Riley Dixon is one of the best in the conference and averaged 42.4 yards per attempt last year. Sophomore walk-on Cole Murphy hit 13 of 16 FG last year including two 50-yarders. This season Murphy has to fight off two scholarship kickers, though. In returns, the Orange will go to McFarlane and Phillips for kickoffs while Estime will handle the punt return duties.
All three options bring reasonably potential to improve the special teams, which could potentially put Syracuse in a few games this season. It dropped its final five contests in 2014 and Wake Forest was its lone conference win.
The Orange have a lot of shifting around to do with so many key players departed. The offensive system is new and Terrel Hunt is practically trying to reinvent himself after having been so run-heavy in the past. The Orange won just three games last year and oddsmakers at 5dimes aren’t expecting a rapid improvement with the over/under set at 4 wins. We’re actually expecting a repeat performance from last year, at best.
Prediction: 3 wins