The rash of injures that impacted the 2014 Syracuse football season was unprecendented. Syracuse was forced to play four quarterbacks, several offensive line groupings, played games without a few of their best playmakers at the wide receiver position and lacked depth all over the roster because of the injury bug.
If Syracuse is going to have a bounce back 2015 campaign, they have to stay healthier. In order to try to make sure they do just that, the Orange took an in-depth look at all of the injuries during this past season.
”First and foremost, during and after the season, we were studying all of the injuries and saying are there some patterns,” head coach Scott Shafer said. “With similar injuries in similar situations in similar type of practice settings. What field they were on, what shoes they were wearing, what type of a tape job. All of those types of things to see if there was a pattern. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there was no pattern. As you know, Mike, there were injuries all over the yard. It was one thing this week and another thing that week.
”There wasn’t a pattern, which as a coach is frustrating because you’re looking for tendencies all the time in everything you do preparing for a game. You do the same thing when you self-scout your team both x’s and o’s, health and academics and all those things. We were looking for a pattern. We sat around the table and read through the whole study of where we were with these injuries. We just kind of put our hand on our forehead and said holy cow. We don’t know why we were snake bit but we were.”
Despite the lack of a notable pattern, coach Shafer and his staff have made a few notable changes to attempt to prevent the same injury bug from striking once again. A “performance team” was put in place that features trainers and doctors from within the athletics department.
This team will assess, evaluate, monitor and review various benchmarks not previously in place in order to identify places where there is a greater potential for injury and correct them before they turn into something serious.
”We always had a benchmark for strength, for their speed and their agility test,” Shafer said. “But there wasn’t always a benchmark for what’s his hamstring strength right to left. Or hamstring versus quad. What we did was we tested all the kids and we’ll continue to do that and have a benchmark. Then the performance team will decide what level they were at and where they needed to be. Set an objective goal and go hard forward to try to make sure they are balanced as an athlete.
”We compared the numbers to the NFL and they do some of the same things that we’re doing. That was the one thing that we added. We did a lot of those things prior to, but now we’re setting benchmarks with kids that were perfectly healthy as opposed to he did have a little bit of a knee issue or he did have a little bit of a shoulder issue when he was in tenth grade. I guess you would say it’s preventative medicine to a little bit of a higher scale.”
A healthier football program could mean a turnaround for the Orange in 2015.