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Syracuse Football: Five pivotal keys to success for ‘Cuse in 2023 season

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

I’m a big believer in the same theory that Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers has in that every season is different than the last. So I think placing expectations for success on a team based on the past is not necessarily the best measuring stick.

Yes, some factors may still be relevant but there is also so much change that you can’t accurately judge too much. But 2023 is definitely different than 2022 but can they still have success and make a bowl game in 2023?

I’ve thought a lot about stuff like this over the past few months and I think they definitely can be a bowl team or better. But what will it take to get them there?

I thought about this too and to me, there are five things I truly believe could make this a special season, a campaign that begins this coming Saturday at home against Colgate. If these five pieces come together, I could see the puzzle complete with at the very least a very nice bowl experience.

Here are my five keys to success for Syracuse football in 2023.


The 2022 season started off so unbelievably amazing and fans were excited but sadly injuries caught up to them. They started 6-0 but finished 1-5 plus a bowl game loss mostly because so many key players were injured.

If 2023 is going to be what they hoped 2022 could be, the biggest factor is likely keeping players healthy. Coach Babers even admitted this offseason that Syracuse football quarterback Garrett Shrader was injured/banged up in the Clemson game and not the same the rest of the season. Many players last year were lost for significant time if not for the whole season. Praying this year players can stay healthy.

More than one reliable receiver

Oronde Gadsden II, a star junior tight end/wide receiver, has been getting a lot of preseason hype and love and deservedly so. And I don’t think I’m telling a secret or adding anything unique here by stating that he’s going to get attention on the field too and someone else will have to step up.

The Syracuse football wide receiver room has players who can make plays but can they do it consistently? Can they get open and run their routes effectively to allow Shrader to utilize them too if Gadsden is covered? If so, I think Shrader will become more comfortable throwing to them and now the offensive playbook is open more to success. It doesn’t have to be just one because the more weapons the better but if at least one guy can step up, foot on the pedal and score often, that would be big.

Win the field position battle

So it’s basic football here but win the battles, win the war. And key amongst those battles is keeping your opponent from being in good positions to score but assure yourself the best possible positions.

Especially key here is special teams. Make your field goals instead of turning the ball over at almost mid-field. Make smart decisions on punt and kick returns to limit turnovers and help the team. Punt the ball to places where you either pin them back or where your strength lies in the coverage going after the returner.

Like I said, it sounds basic but putting yourself into better positions than your opponent will help more than not. Also, I truly believe sometimes players thrive in certain situations and seeing yourself in a better position for success likely will fire them up more as well.

Get at least one win vs. Clemson, North Carolina and Florida State

Many people are looking at the 2023 schedule, seeing these three opponents back to back to back and counting Syracuse football out of them already. While all three have great potential, winning against any of them or possibly all of them will make the excitement from the 6-0 start last season look small in comparison.

At Purdue and at Virginia Tech amongst other games will not be easy either but these three games will be difficult. And if you can win any of these games, it will not just help your overall win total but look very good to bowl games and much like my last point I’m about to discuss, you’ll win over more of those fans who come around more when you win.

Start strong to keep fans interested

Last season when the team started 6-0, you could tell the difference between an average season and this one. People were talking more and showing up to games more as well.

I’m a big believer in the home-field advantage especially in the JMA Wireless Dome. And I know some will only come around if they’re winning games yet oddly enough winning is easier if fans show up.

For decades, I’ve heard stories of opponents saying how hard it was to play there when it’s loud. And we’ve seen penalties and time-outs called because they couldn’t get the play off effectively. And if you’ve even been there on third or fourth down, you know it can get loud.

And while I’d love to pound the drum telling people that if you come and get loud, you can help, the team can help this by winning early and often. Like it or not, a portion of the fans here in Syracuse will only come around if you’re either winning or it’s a big event feeling.

So if this team can find a way to at least finish September undefeated (which includes beating Purdue & Clemson by the way) or maybe 4-1 but the Clemson game was really close, I do think you’ll start seeing a huge improvement in attendance when the team returns to the Dome in November (all October games are road games) especially if you do fall to Clemson but redeem yourself against others.

The more the Orange win, the more I can foresee the Dome being more and more packed and louder.

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