Trying to put this season in perspective | Syracusefan.com

Trying to put this season in perspective

billsin01

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So just trying to put a bow on a season that really came out of nowhere, IMO. This is a team that was replacing a ton offensively and, quite frankly, I would suggest most of this board was hoping to just come out on top against WMU so that we could reasonably get a 3-1 start, which would hopefully allow some young talent to come along and contribute mid-season and hopefully give us a chance to compete late. To start 4-0 and then wind up 9-3 seems insane.

Regardless, I'll try to put some perspective on it:

Best SU football season since ...
I'm going to say '92. Really the only contender in there is '01 (an all-timer in their own right), but that's not really close. Started that season 0-2 (albeit to a really good GA Tech team and at a really good Tennessee team) but also got absolutely obliterated by Miami (something that ND sort of approximated but w/o Dungey) and it was coming off a really strong era in our football past. The '92 team was nasty -- early loss to OSU and then coming up a couple yards short vs. Miami (RIP Chris Gedney) before beating a nasty Colorado team in the Fiesta.

That's sick. We're not there yet, but to come from what we've seen the past 17 years to what happened this year? Crazy. Gotta give Dino and co. credit. They worked a miracle, IMO (more on that in a minute).

What will we get for such a phenomenal season?
Well, we get a bowl (camping world it sounds like?) and a bunch of practices -- that helps. We also should see some benefit in recruiting tho I tend to think a single good year doesn't exactly reverse 17 years of suckitude. That will take some time (though last week was nice to reel in a couple LBs and get a DB back into the fold).

But to me the biggest thing is that it feels like what's going on here is sustainable (for as long as Dino is the coach ... again, more on that later). I honestly am not sure this team is particularly talented on the offensive side and it's lack of experience in the secondary and at LB led to a staggering number of 60+ yard plays allowed. But there's a chance everyone is back defensively (more or less) and we add potentially the best RB we would have had on this team (Adams) and best WR we would have had (Jackson). Don't know what to expect exactly out of DeVito but he's probably more suited to what Dino wants to do and the young WRs should be really solid with another year (N. Johnson, S. Johnson, Harris maybe even Hendrix...).

I'm not sure we'll have the kind of success we had this year in terms of record, but it should be a pretty explosive group to watch.

Nice to see the Dome taken advantage of and to see us beat teams schematically
We beat the teams we were supposed to beat, which should not be understated. We also took excellent advantage of running a quick-paced, often pass-heavy offense in a domed stadium and we also crushed special teams in part again b/c of that domed stadium. Part of beating teams you're supposed to beat is having a good system and executing it well. We did that for the most part.

Against good teams those schemes get tested even further -- and we did well there -- beating up on BC and NC State, playing clemson to the wire, frustrating loss at pitt but they were solid and we were right there. ND is the only exception, but we always seemed to have a good game plan and execute it pretty well. Credit to Babers and co.

Does this season help Dino believe he can consistently win at a high level here?
One of the most interesting things about this season is that there wasn't much flukey about it, right? I mean, ND beat us up. Fine, stands to reason since they are likely headed to the playoff at 12-0. May have gotten a little lucky to hang with Clemson, but either way it was a competitive game. Lost to Pitt, could have gone either way. But, otherwise, we beat up on FSU, Wagner, WMU, UConn, NC State, Wake, L'ville and BC. Carolina was dicey, but we survived.

Now, you might argue "who gives a s--t about UConn or L'ville in a down year or WMU ..." and you'd be right ... if we hadn't been losing to just about everyone the past 17 years. Winning those games easily is progress. Adding wins over quality teams like BC, NC State, Wake ... -- that's even better.

So, Dungey is gone but there is a ton coming back next season and i would say it's a team that has every right to dream of a double-digit win total (not sure it will work that way or if DeVito will be quite ready, but it's not a crazy dream).

So the reason I ask the Dino question is this: Dino will have opportunities this year and next. People can keep posting about extensions, but it doesn't matter b/c we'll never match that kind of money. The one thing that might appeal to Dino -- as a guy who's not 40 anymore -- is does he have a job that offers good job security AND, more importantly, the chance to win at the highest level? Compare that to USC where Helton is on the hot seat essentially b/c he had a bad year with a really young and really beat up team.

Not sure what the answer is here but if Dino opts in for another season and we are more talented and explosive on offense and more experienced on D -- look out.

While the young kids are exciting, credit to the vets for some impressive efforts
So I spent much of the season talking about the need to upgrade at the skill positions on offense and complaining about why we didn't have better LBs. But it's interesting watching that game how well some of those dudes played. Love that Strickland had a huge last regular season game (I've trashed him plenty the past three years). Dude wound up with 560 yards on a 5.0 ypc average with 6 TDs and, as others have pointed out, did a nice job blocking and giving Dungey and DeVito time. Still feel like maybe he was a slot WR playing RB, but give him credit for grinding.

Thought Guthrie was outstanding vs. BC (power run team obviously a good matchup for him) and at times through the season. Not sure he's going down as our next Glen Young but he finished up with 101 tackles including 14.5 for loss and two sacks. He's not flawless and is pretty much a two-down guy, but give him credit for a pretty strong year.

Custis and Riley -- two more kids I questioned preseason (Custis) or during the season (Riley) who really made big contributions to this thing. They kind of had opposite years -- Riley was quiet early outside of the UConn game but came on big in the second half 37 catches for 487 yards (13 yds/catch) in his last six games. That's not incredible production and he's a bit limited in some ways (just the one TD in that stretch) but he contributed in a huge way. Custis was a big play guy. It's weird to figure but Dungey's rating -- despite the injuries and occasional struggles -- was better than last year by a decent margin.

Moe Neal, another guy we've seen for a couple years now, really had a pretty strong year all around. Not the best runner we've had but had a nice year.

Anyway, this post is long enough, but a pretty phenomenal year that sets up a very interesting next couple seasons, particularly if we can hang onto Babers for a couple years.
 

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