R.J. Anderson would never win a game for you – but he'd never lose it either.
Never spectacular and never awful, Anderson was a middle-of-the-run quarterback who would throw for 125 yards, run for 25 more and sneak a touchdown in once a game or so.
Back in September, defensive linemen Louis Gachelin said Syracuse would only go as far as Anderson would take them. Well, Syracuse finished 6-6, and they have Anderson (who finished his career 16-13 as a start) to thank for that.
With the coaching, quarterback, defensive line, offensive line, receivers all in flux, at the very least, you can expect Walter Reyes to be the foundation for the Orangemen next year. There was hints of the H-word thrown around after Reyes rolled out 241 yards against Central Florida, and even if he did taper off after that, he will certainly be mentioned in next year's preseason as a prime candidate.
Should Reyes improve on his already robust numbers – 1,347 yards, 20 touchdowns – and should backup Damien Rhodes finally shake the injury bug, Syracuse will once again have a formidable rushing attack.
Johnnie Morant (799 receiving yards) will be missed, even though he still has yet to fulfill the potential hidden in his 6-foot-4 frame. Other than Morant, the Orangemen wide receiver core was relatively silient.
Jamel Riddle didn't play a game all year, sitting out because of academic issues, and 5-foot-7 Rashard Williams is exactly that – a short receiver. Junior Andre Fontenette will have to step into Morant's role next year.
Walter Reyes said it best.
"I wouldn't be able to do what I do without these guys," Reyes said.
Syracuse's O-line was one of Syracuse's strongest assets, but will lose senior center Nick Romeo and tackle Kevin Sampson to graduation. Reyes can only hope the offensive line will be as good next year.
On the other line, D-line's Josh Thomas, Louis Gachelin and Christian Ferrara all turned in great years and will be sorely missed. Gachelin (61 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks), a first-team All Big East selection, and Ferrara (line-high 62 tackles), a second-team All Big East winner, were steady throughout the season and took some heat off the secondary with their quarterback rush.
The Orangemen will miss middle linebacker Rich Scanlon. Scanlon, a second-team All Big East selection, anchored the defense and was as intense a player as you will find.
Redshirt freshman Kelvin Smith learned his position in a hurry and sophomore Kellen Pruitt enjoyed a breakout year. But who will fill the void left by Scanlon?
Around this time last year, the secondary took much of the blame for Syracuse's 4-8 season. The good news is, the secondary is the most improved parts of the team. The bad news? That ain't sayin' much.
Sure, the group ranked No. 67 after being ranked dead last a season ago – but the Orangemen will still need to beef up next year if Syracuse wants to contend for the Big East title.
In just his first season, punter Brendan Carney was given a second-team All Big East nod. Don't be surprised if Carney becomes of the best punters in the country – should he get his punt time down.
Marcus Clayton, a true freshman, impressed with his blinding speed. His 56-yard return against West Virginia should be a sign of great things to come.
Meanwhile, Collin Barber enjoyed a solid, though not spectacular, year.
Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni's team waited until the final game of the season to put everything together.
Too little, too late.
After an unacceptable loss to Rutgers, Pasqualoni's job came under fire, and deservedly so. Despite players giving "great effort", as Pasqualoni would say, week in and week out, the bottom line is wins – and Syracuse can't afford another 6-6 season.
HACK ATTACK: Final Grades
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