There is no other way to put it. Friday night was brutal. There are a myriad of things that need to be corrected. That said, it is far too early to give up on the program or quit on this coaching staff. Let’s start with what needs to be fixed.
- The offense has to improve their execution, specifically in the red zone. Getting inside your opponent’s five-yard line twice without a touchdown is unacceptable. Especially when there are two touchdown passes dropped in those situations.
-The self inflicted wounds, such as penalties, have to stop. The offense cannot keep putting itself in bad situations with second and long or third and long.
-In the first two games of the season, Syracuse took care of the football. In the last three, they have had critical turnovers which goes back to the first point. Syracuse has to get back to limiting or eliminating turnovers.
The larger issue is the offensive execution. It has been poor over the last three weeks. Penalties, turnovers, play calling issues, mental mistakes, drops and other problems have plagued the offense over the last three weeks. They have to be fixed.
All of those things are true and after Friday night’s game, it is easy to be upset, frustrated, disappointed and a plethora of other emotions. All of which are warranted. But calling for the firing of Scott Shafer and/or his staff is too premature. It is not time to give up on the team, the program or the coaching staff.
This is not a Greg Robinson situation. There are too many good football coaches on this staff. Things will get turned around. That is not a popular opinion right now. Doom and gloom is rampant and understandably so. But a panic decision such as starting over will set the program back. I still believe Scott Shafer is the right man to lead the program.
Recruiting is on an upward trend. That will improve the product on the field. It may take a couple of years before that really starts to materialize into results, but the foundation was set with the 2014 class. There are plenty of positives with young talent on the roster.
The defense is solid and improving. The lack of a consistent pass rusher from the defensive line is a concern, but a player with upside like Chris Slayton may end up being that guy down the road.
Long-term prognosis are not what fans want to hear right now. I get that. But when you are evaluating a coach and a staff, everything has to be taken into consideration. Things are broken right now, but that does not mean you give up on what is being built.
There are plenty of coaches who had slow starts to their career before turning things around. Nick Saban went 6-5, 6-6, 7-5 and 6-6 during his first four years at Michigan State, missing a bowl game in his second to last year with the Spartans. Mack Brown went 1-10 in his first two seasons at North Carolina before turning that program around.
Jim Harbaugh was 4-8 and 5-7 in his first two years at Stanford before turning that program around and landing a job in the NFL. Stanford is not a perennial top 20 team thanks to what he built.
Frank Beamer, the great head coach at Virginia Tech, started his career with the Hokies going 2-9, 3-8, 6-4, 6-5, 5-6 and 2-8 in his first six seasons. For 18 of the next 19 seasons, he led Virginia Tech to at least eight wins.
There are plenty of more examples where slow starts did not mean a train wreck. I understand there is a tendency to expect disaster after the Greg Robinson era. But this is not close to a G-Rob situation. Not. Even. Close.
And no, I am not saying that Scott Shafer will become one of those coaches. But a little patience to see how turns out is needed. Syracuse fans can continue to support the program. Support the players. Do their part in helping turn this thing around.
Fight the instincts to jump to a rash decision and see how this plays out. There are still many more chapters of the Shafer era to be written. And I think many positive ones.
“I feel really badly about today,” Shafer said after Fridays loss. “I feel horrible about today. I hate to lose, it makes me sick to my stomach. But we’ll fight our butts off to get to where we want to be. I promise you that.”