If you’re a football team and you find yourself with six wins after six games then you are doing something right. If you are that same team and find yourself at the end of the season with a 7-6 record then something went very wrong. Syracuse managed just one win after making bowl eligibility on the front half of their schedule. It wasn’t a complete cakewalk either. There was the typical FCS foe in Wagner to go with a bad UConn and Virginia. NC State and Purdue were solid wins early in the year. Clemson ended that winning streak, but only after climbing back from behind. That loss sent Syracuse into a tailspin as they would only manage another win over Boston College to end the regular season.
Tougher competition played a part in the losing streak to end the year. The other issue is the abuse QB Garrett Shrader endured behind an experienced line learning a new system. Shrader was sacked 43 times and plays as a mobile quarterback which only added to his hits. He was playing banged up and missed the Pittsburgh game.
Syracuse and Georgia Tech will meet just before Clean Old Fashioned Hate in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech owns a 3-1 advantage in the series. They first met as ACC foes in 2013 where Georgia Tech would shut them out 56-0. Syracuse won their last meeting during the 2020 season 37-20. It was an embarrassing loss for the Yellow Jackets as it was the lone win for Syracuse that year.
Garrett Shrader had a good season last year and could be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He threw for 2640 yards and ran for 453 more with 17 touchdowns in the air and 9 on the ground. Syracuse does not have a tested quarterback behind Schrader. The offensive line performed poorly last season despite bringing back an experienced unit. That experience is gone up front so Shrader will have to rely on his mobility to keep himself upright and healthy.
The biggest loss for Syracuse will be running back Sean Tucker. He led the team with 1060 yards last season after racking up 1496 the year before. LaQuint Allen returns after backing up Tucker, but his production was significantly lower with only 41 touches for 274 yards.
Receiver will be the position of strength this year as they return tight end Oronde Gadsden who led the team with 969 yards. The Orange use Gadsden similar to how Kyle Pitts was used at Florida as a slot receiver. ACC Media voted him to the Preseason Team this past week at Media Days. He will have help on the outside as Damien Alford returns averaging 21.5 yards per catch last season.
The defensive side of the ball has to be worrisome for Syracuse this year. They returned a lot of experience last year but couldn’t muster much pressure against opposing QBs with only 32 sacks. On the front end they brought Braylen Ingraham from Alabama to help out but he has little experience. Linebacker is in ok shape as they return Marlowe Wax who led the team with 91 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Syracuse did a decent job defending the pass by allowing 185 yards a game but they did give up a 67% completion rate. They do run a 3-3-5 defense which allows for an extra player in coverage if needed but they lose a lot of experience in those positions this year. They’ll be under the direction of new defensive coordinator Rocky Long who has had success running this defensive scheme.
Kicker Andre Szmyt went 20-26 with a long from 54 last year but he will be replaced after graduating. Syracuse brought in Missouri’s punter after Maximillion Von Marburg only netted 33 yards across his punts last year. Trebor Pena handled returns duties on both punts and kicks and will keep those roles into this season.
Head Coach Dino Babers had early success when he came to Syracuse but they’ve struggled over the past few seasons. They seem to take care of the teams they should but rarely manage to beat better teams even when they get an early lead. Their offense relies heavily on keeping Shrader healthy as he sat out this past spring. This contest comes late in the season and I expect Shrader to have taken his lumps behind an offense that won’t have much help outside TE Gadsden. Syracuse will fall to the bottom half of the conference and this should be a win for the Yellow Jackets. Score: Georgia Tech 27 - Syracuse 10