Syracuse football, if you look at 2022 season as a whole, trending positive

Syracuse football (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images)
Syracuse football (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images) /

I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, and if you look at the entire body of work by Syracuse football across the complete 2022 regular season, to me, the Orange has succeeded in the current term.

I get that most of us have recency bias, and the ‘Cuse started out 6-0, followed by a 1-5 finish to close things out at 7-5 prior to suiting up in a bowl game in the near future.

That’s understandable. But here’s my perspective. First and foremost, Syracuse football has seven wins in 2022 and could get to eight.

Last year, the Orange went 5-7. In 2020, the ‘Cuse finished a dreadful 1-10. So seven or maybe eight victories this season is a positive development, in my humble opinion.

Conference-championship contests are occurring this Saturday, and Syracuse football is expected to learn its bowl-game destination and opponent on Sunday, Dec. 4 (it looks like the Fenway Bowl in Boston may not be an option).

Syracuse football, despite ups and downs, has had a solid 2022 stanza to date.

Of course, if the ‘Cuse hadn’t stormed back to defeat long-time rival Boston College on the road this past Saturday evening, I may have had a different thought process on the Orange’s 2022 term.

For one, losing to the Eagles would have given Syracuse football a 6-6 mark in the 2022 regular season. Also, Boston College isn’t any good, so falling to the Eagles would have proven a bad loss.

Worse yet, that would have made it six setbacks in a row for the Orange, with the possibility that the ‘Cuse could wrap up the 2022 stanza under .500 if it lost in a bowl game.

After starting out 6-0, the team’s best beginning to a season dating back to 1987, to potentially have a losing record in 2022 would have been disastrous.

Naturally, some of my fellow fans aren’t happy that Syracuse football went 1-5 after racing out to a 6-0 start. But I’m curious: if the Orange began 2022 at 1-5 and then went 6-0, would we all feel better?

Perhaps, because the team would have been faring better in the second half of the season, as compared to the first half. However, when the 2022 schedule came out, we all knew the backend of the ‘Cuse calendar would be brutal.

So, to reiterate, I’m trying to be an optimist here. Getting that win over Boston College was important. Grabbing an eighth triumph in a bowl contest would be huge.

Let’s not forget that prior to 2022 commencing, the Orange was projected to finish in the basement of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic division.

Instead, Syracuse football (7-5, 4-4) is headed to its first bowl game since the 2018 campaign. At present, the Orange is in a tie for third place within the Atlantic standings, along with Louisville and N.C. State. The ‘Cuse beat both of those conference foes.

Without question, that five-game slide was awful. To me, losing at Clemson and then the setback at Pittsburgh hurt the most. Falling to Notre Dame, Florida State and Wake Forest was a bit more understandable, as the Fighting Irish and the Seminoles have come on strong lately, and the Demon Deacons won at home (to be fair, the Panthers are hot these days, too).

Of course, some Syracuse football fans continue to want SU officials to fire head coach Dino Babers. I’m not in that camp. Babers brought in multiple new assistant coaches, and I believe those hires helped the Orange get to at least seven victories this season.

I’m not making excuses with this comment, but the ‘Cuse sure has had to deal with a flood of unfortunate injuries, particularly on the defensive side of the field.

That being said, a whole host of reserves has stepped up well over the course of the 2022 stanza, including defensive backs Ja’Had Carter and Jason Simmons Jr., defensive lineman Kevin Jobity Jr., and linebackers Derek McDonald and Anwar Sparrow, among others.

Starting LBs Marlowe Wax Jr. and Mikel Jones are No. 12 and No. 17, respectively, in total tackles per game within the ACC.

The Orange’s MOB defense, at present, is No. 5 in the conference in both yards allowed per contest and points given up per encounter. In those two categories, the ‘Cuse defense is within the top 40 across the country, according to statistics on the NCAA’s Web site.

Star running back Sean Tucker isn’t going to eclipse his amount of rushing yards from 2021, when he broke the single-season Syracuse football record, but Tucker still has collected more than 1,000 yards on the ground in 2022.

Oronde Gadsden II emerged as the Orange’s top receiving threat this season. He has a shot at producing 1,000 receiving yards, if he can put forth a strong effort in the team’s bowl game, and Gadsden is currently No. 6 in the ACC in receiving yards per game.

Placekicker Andre Szmyt struggled a tad in 2021, and in the 2022 stanza to date, he has connected on a solid 18-of-24 field-goal attempts while not missing an extra point in 38 tries.

Finally, quarterback Garrett Shrader has improved in the passing attack from a stanza ago. His rushing numbers in 2022 as compared to 2021 aren’t nearly as robust, but his passing stats are significantly better.

Per ESPN, Shrader in 2021 completed 52.6 percent of his passes for 1,445 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. To date in 2022, he is completing 65.0 percent of his passes for 2,310 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.

I’m not going to go all hyperbolic here and suggest that Syracuse football was spectacular in 2022. That would be over the top. But the team, from my perspective, has put forth a solid 2022 season that is a marked improvement over other recent years.

And that, to me, suggests that the Orange is trending in the right direction. Now let’s finish off the present term on a high note with a win in a bowl game.

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