PLAYING FOR PRIDE
• With two weeks left in the season, the Orange still have something to play for. No it’s not the College Football Playoff; those hopes were fantasies in the minds of young Syracuse fans and die hard hopefuls. No it’s not an ACC Atlantic title; in spite of Clemson and Florida State being in the division there was always the belief that the Orange could in fact finish third and reach a bowl. The Belk, Music City, TaxSlayer, or even the Pinstripe Bowl could have been a future game for ‘Cuse, but too many variables never came together from the opening quarter against Rhode Island turning the season on its side during the first series of plays. Despite some extreme bright spots against two of the nation’s top teams, it would seem like this season was a complete loss. However, Syracuse has two more games that could provide a winning end to the season and positive thoughts heading into 2016. North Carolina State may be 6-4, but four of those wins came against the likes of Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion, and South Alabama. Their only two ACC wins were at the hands of Wake Forest (who SU already defeated), and the Orange’s final opponent the Boston College Eagles. The Wolfpack could be the perfect prey for a Syracuse team on the hunt for a win.
ZACK MAHONEY, THE REAL DEAL?
• Another successful game for Zach Mahoney against a big opponent. In two starts against #15 LSU (then #8) and #1 Clemson, Mahoney has more than filled the void of losing the number one play caller. His statistics may not wow anyone, 24-59 passing for 234 yards, but he has amassed 116 yards which included two touchdowns with his feet. Add that to his three scores in the air, and you have a quarterback who possesses an efficiency rating just under 100. Zack Mahoney was a junior college transfer who thought he would never see the field, but the coaching staff has to be ecstatic that he did. There very well could be a controversy under center heading into the remaining games of the season, but with Eric Dungey’s health uncertain again it could be the transfer’s job the remainder of the year. This could lead to a much larger problem for the Orange heading into the 2016 campaign. Will Terrel Hunt earn a waiver for another season in Syracuse? Has Eric Dungey proven that his versatility will win the starting job heading into next season? Will Zack Mahoney stay in the program now that he has demonstrated he is capable to start at the Division I level? Only time will tell, but maybe another audition is needed for Mahoney to provide more data headed into next year.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
• A lot of speculation is in the air over whether or not Head Coach Scott Shafer and his staff will return for another year. Shafer recently mentioned that his contract will run for only one more season following the final snap against Boston College. There are two schools of thought regarding the fate of this coaching staff, either extend the current agreement for 3-5 years or let Coach go at the end of the season. In recent weeks I have alluded to the simple fact that a decision needs to be made, but I have yet to really provide a take.
In a world of “amateur sports” filled with corruption and greed, stemming from the money surrounding big time college athletics, sometimes it’s hard to find a leader that stands for values and building character. Today’s environment of sports, whether professional or collegiate, is obsessed with winning at seemingly all costs. The players come and go, but the attitude is if you aren’t able to have the most points on the scoreboard at the end of the game then somehow the coach must not be doing his job. We often forget to realize that even though the coaches call the plays, it is those on the field that have to execute them to get positive results. But, wouldn’t you like a leader who wants to teach the game, watch his players grow, and build on each success they have?
Since training camp, Scott Shafer has always preached “win the day.” The team has never made long term goals, just the goal of playing hard and trying to build on every snap and every series. I think we can agree that this team plays hard. They have put every last effort out on the field, whether the result was what we wanted or not. I may have never strapped on the shoulder pads myself, and I am sure there is many a fan who has never snapped on a chin strap. We watch because we love the game, and we enjoy the passion in what the players and coaches give us every week for our own entertainment. No, 95% of more never get to see what goes on behind the curtain. We aren’t at practice or the team meetings. But, you’ll be hard pressed to find an individual who remains positive every time he talks about his kids.
That same individual who yells when necessary, or even fights for his team leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty, but never berates a player on the sidelines. You see him having one-on-one conversations with players, building their confidence and spurring them on to get better. What is truly more important than building a winner? The answer: Building Character. I value the opinions of all those looking at the records, statistics, and box scores. However, at the end of the day if I was able to sit at the table and make a decision, mine would be this: Extend Coach’s contract, give him a chance, and let this team grow. He inherited a program that was abandoned, and in his journey as SU’s Head Coach he treats everyone with the class and poise you want in a leader. I think that deserves a little respect.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE REF?
• Don’t really want to touch this other than in the ACC officiating is beyond suspicious. Last week’s game story will provide my commentary for that: LINK