Syracuse has undergone a lot of change this week. One of the big changes is a new offensive coordinator as Tim Lester replaced George McDonald. Despite the change, freshman wide receiver Steve Ishmael has not noticed any major differences.
“Well it’s the exact same thing,” Ishmael said. “Nothing different really. The same thing. Pretty much the same offense. We haven’t changed.”
While there have not been sweeping changes to the offense, Ishmael has noticed McDonald has been the same person/coach with the players during what has been a difficult time for him personally.
“He’s the exact same,” Ishmael said. “He comes in there with the same mindset and same mentality every day. His focus is on us to get us better. I haven’t seen change from him. As a player, looking at him and seeing no change, that says a lot. I really respect him.”
In addition to the coaching change, Syracuse will be without starting quarterback Terrel Hunt who has a fractured fibula. Ishmael says he and the other receivers have confidence in Austin Wilson, A.J. Long and Mitch Kimble.
“The offense is adjusting pretty good,” Ishmael said. “Today we had a pretty good practice. I feel like Austin and A.J., both of them can contribute really well. I look forward to playing with those guys. It’s still getting better. We’re still in the process. The season is still going on so we’re just moving forward from here.
“Oh yeah, and Mitch, I forgot. Those are our three quarterbacks. Austin, A.J. and Mitch. I don’t know which one is going to play right now. But all of them can make some plays.”
Even with his confidence in each of the quarterbacks, Ishmael noted something about Wilson that sticks out.
“Austin is really amazing,” Ishmael said. “Everyone comments on his deep ball. He has great deep ball accuracy. I feel like he’s a great quarterback and consistent with his throwing arm. He really knows how to throw the ball.”
As if breaking in a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator was not enough, the top ranked team in the country comes to the Carrier Dome on Saturday to test all of the change surrounding the Orange. The Florida State Seminoles are a home-state matchup for Ishmael, making the game even more exciting from his perspective. The team as a whole is completely focused on their opponent even with all of the turmoil.
“It’s going to be really fun especially because of the fact that they are recruiting me,” he said. “They took another two receivers but I feel like this is a chance for me to get my name out there going against a good football team. This is our chance as a team to get back out there. Pulling off a huge upset and beating the number one team in the country. That would be really great for us as a team.”
The offense has been a source of consternation among the fan base due to its inconsistency through the first five games of the season. That unit is putting in some additional work to try to turn things around.
“We’re working extra,” Ishmael said. “I’m trying to meet up with Austin one of these days. Like three days out of the week doing extra work with him. We’re dong a lot of extra stuff and watching more film. We feel like the little things will eventually turn into big things. That’s our main focus now is just working hard and continuing to grind.
“My development, I’m just getting better every week. I’m just trying to help the team as much as possible. I’m grinding more and I’m working harder.”
Ishmael also provided an update on his good friend and 2014 Syracuse quarterback commit Alin Edouard, who is expected to arrive on campus in January.
“Alin is doing really good,” Ishmael said. “Actually he just texted me (the other day). You know he’s at home but he’s always texting me, he’s out there jogging and grinding and always putting work in. He’s out there with some of his former high school players. He’s doing really good.
“I’m really looking forward to him coming back up here because I’m at my house by myself. I don’t have my roommate. We’re not going anywhere. We’re staying.”