Syracuse football will have plenty of chances to prove the naysayers wrong

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

Syracuse football kicks off its 2023 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, versus fellow Empire State foe Colgate.

The Orange is coming off a 2022 campaign where it rushed out of the gates at 6-0 but then sputtered down the stretch. The ‘Cuse would finish last season at 7-6 overall, including a bowl-game appearance.

As we look ahead to the 2023 stanza, prognostications from national and Atlantic Coast Conference pundits appear mixed. Of course, these predictions are speculative in manner, so I try to take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

That being said, noted college football expert Phil Steele recently said that he thinks the Orange can have a solid year. On a national scale, CBS Sports recently placed Syracuse football at No. 56 across the country in some preseason ratings.

And not too long ago, the ACC’s preseason media poll forecast the ‘Cuse to finish at No. 10 in the conference, which has 14 squads, given that Notre Dame is an independent in football.

Syracuse football has ample opportunities to silence its critics.

How the Orange will fare on the field in 2023 is anybody’s guess at this juncture. I think that Syracuse football should have gotten slotted a tad higher in the ACC’s preseason media poll, but that’s splitting hairs.

In the off-season, the ‘Cuse did lose some guys to the professional ranks and the NCAA’s transfer portal, and the team also has some new faces on the staff of head coach Dino Babers.

I acknowledge my Orange-colored glasses as a Syracuse University alumnus and the editor of a ‘Cuse-focused fan Web site. Yet I do feel a sense of optimism surrounding our boys as the 2023 season inches closer.

I believe that Syracuse football is in line to make a bowl game for the second year in a row. I think that the Orange can win seven or eight regular-season contests, even amid a brutal stretch from late September to late October.

One big key is senior quarterback Garrett Shrader being fully healthy. He’s on several preseason national watch lists, and with offensive coordinator Jason Beck guiding him, I’m confident that Shrader can have a strong season.

Sophomore LeQuint Allen Jr. takes the reins from former All-American Sean Tucker at running back. He’s got a lot of potential. Junior tight end/wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II is a star, and I’m of the mindset that the rest of the ‘Cuse receiving corps is underrated.

Despite some turnover, I think that the squad’s linebacking group, led by junior Marlowe Wax Jr., and the secondary will be good to great. We’ll have to see what’s what with the Orange on both sides of the line. Special teams are another area to monitor.

Just like every other college football team nationwide, the Syracuse football roster has to remain healthy, as the Orange was stung by injuries in 2022. I’m a big fan of Beck, and both he and defensive coordinator Rocky Long are earning high praise from ‘Cuse players as the team’s fall camp recently got underway.

For what it’s worth, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, when he updated his 2023 bowl projections in recent days, predicted that Syracuse football will end up battling Memphis out of the American Athletic Conference in the Military Bowl on December 27 in Annapolis, Md.

Naturally, as I already mentioned, all of these preseason projections won’t mean a thing when the upcoming campaign starts in earnest in a few weeks. Is the Orange going to win the ACC championship?

I doubt it. Yet ‘Cuse players will have many opportunities in the coming months to show the naysayers they’re a legit team that will finish higher than No. 10 in the ACC.

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