Syracuse Football: Is the secret ingredient to SUccess special teams?

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

I’m going to discuss the Syracuse football special teams unit for the 2022 season in this piece, but first a fun family sidenote. We all have our favorite dishes and recipes, right? For me it was my aunt’s half-moon cookies, my grandmother’s chicken with Ritz Crackers and her Dutch Apple Pie and my kids love when I make ramen noodles with ground beef and veggies.

These recipes and others you love are made special when you mix the right ingredients together along with the knowledge of how to do it and success is made. To me, football is the same as cooking your favorite meal because if you add all of the ingredients just right, you win but if even one ingredient is off or missing, it just doesn’t have that taste you love.

In football, teams consist of an offense, a defense and special teams. Sometimes if one is very successful, it can cover up for the lack of another but when you have all three sides working together, it’s just as good as when I make Salsa Chicken using Salsa Cuse Salsa…the flavoring is perfect because it’s not just some bland salsa and it adds that much more to the success. The Orange’s special teams to me are the Salsa Cuse of Syracuse football success.

For example, in 2018, Syracuse football kicker Andre Szmyt won the Lou Groza award for the best kicker in the country in only his freshman year as a walk-on.

Special teams’ success is absolutely critical for Syracuse football this coming campaign.

It’s rumored those who saw Andre play early on told Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers that Andre was too good to stay off the field for long. By 2020, Andre Szmyt was setting records at Syracuse University but in 2021, with no special teams coach to work with him, his productivity declined and key kicks were missed.

Also last season, Syracuse football struggled with the punting team, often allowing opponents good field position to start their drives. They tried multiple guys, but injuries and a lack of productivity were noticeable. Heck, even the returner Trebor Peña had great moments but was sidelined by injury late in the season (though at times Courtney Jackson also showed glimmers of success).

Entering the 2022 season, however, Syracuse special teams will have a new coach with an extensive resume. Coach Babers brought in a guy with 27 years of special teams experience named Bob Ligashesky. When the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2008, he was their special teams’ coach.

Is Special Teams that unit that adds just enough to complete the recipe for success? Will the punting game, kicking game and return game help under Coach Ligashesky & Coach Babers? Will we have more opportunities due to better field position courtesy of Trebor Peña and the punting game (maybe even get a punt return TD or two or three next season)?

What about feeling more confident about last-minute field goals like against Clemson last season and seeing Szmyt return to Lou Groza form and win those games for the Orange? I believe 2022 under Coach Ligashesky & with the talent he has can be that difference between using a store brand bland salsa and Salsa Cuse Salsa…just enough flavor to add to it and bring success and even a bowl bid at least to the Orange.

I believe Syracuse is ready to handle all three phases of competition and give Orange fans a taste they’ll enjoy for years to come. Now if I could just get my aunt to make those half-moons again the world would be perfect again in Orange Nation.

Next. Syracuse Football: 44 reasons that I’m optimistic about the ‘Cuse in 2022. dark