Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Syracuse
By Matt Fortuna
An 0-2 record against Big Ten opponents was not the kind of start Syracuse wanted in Year 1 of the ACC and the Scott Shafer eras, especially with Northwestern routing the Orange from start to finish in Week 2. Still, a quarterback switch from Drew Allen to Terrel Hunt proved effective, helping the Orange play .500 ball in the ACC despite the step up in competition, as they finished 7-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play. Though Hunt struggled early on in league play, his reliable running game helped Syracuse to impressive road wins at NC State and at Maryland. Ultimately, Hunt came through in the final seconds against Boston College to make the Orange bowl eligible before delivering a strong performance in a Texas Bowl win over Minnesota. The future looks bright in Central New York.
Offensive MVP: RB Jerome Smith. The junior ultimately could not duplicate his 1,000-yard campaign from 2012, but considering the better defenses in the ACC, and the greater onus on him this fall, what he did in 2013 was probably more impressive. Smith declared for the NFL draft after rushing for 914 yards and 12 touchdowns on 200 carries, while adding eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive MVP: DT Jay Bromley. The three-year starter put forth his best effort yet, finishing fifth in the ACC in sacks (10), 12th in tackles for loss (14.5) and tied for fourth in forced fumbles (three). Bromley added three quarterback hurries and finished with 42 total tackles on the season, earning third-team all-conference honors from both the media and the coaches for his performance.
Best moment: An argument can certainly be made for the Nov. 30 last-second win over resurgent BC to clinch bowl eligibility, but we'll go with the 21-17 Texas Bowl win over favored Minnesota, as it served as something of a coming-out party for Hunt, the game's MVP, going into next season. The signal-caller completed 19 of 29 passes for 188 yards and rushed for 74 yards and two scores on 15 carries, including a 12-yard rush with 1:14 left to clinch the win.
Worst moment: Blowout losses to Clemson and Florida State -- ranked No. 3 and No. 2 at the time each played Syracuse, respectively -- certainly stand out. But the Orange were hardly the only teams to get crushed by those two ACC powers. The Sept. 7 rout at Northwestern deserves some consideration, too, but ultimately an Oct. 19 trip gone wrong to Georgia Tech takes the cake, with the Yellow Jackets winning a 56-0 decision against a team that spoke of preparing for the triple-option since the spring. Syracuse ended up surrendering 394 rushing yards, finding itself down and virtually out by halftime when trailing 28-0. The Atlanta visit was one to forget for the Orange.