In our final opponent preview we chatted with John Castillo of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Check out their site for all things Syracuse
BC Interruption: Scott Shafer got the boot this week. Why did the Orange decide to pull the plug on him after three years John Castillo: Shafer was canned by SU Athletics for a combination of things, really. The most obvious one is simple wins and losses (6-17 in the last 23 games), but that's too easy. His post-game shenanigans all season showed him at odds with media and unable to take blame for what went wrong as the head coach of the football team. Improved recruiting -- among the calling cards for those who wanted to keep Shafer -- isn't really that improved (we're still in the 50s and 60s). We've spent the season not showing up for games we should at least be competitive in, and after another no-show vs. NC State, it appeared athletic director Mark Coyle had enough.
His replacement? I couldn't even begin to dig through the laundry list of candidates, viable and non-viable. But honing in on a couple: Temple's Matt Rhule is the preferred option in terms of rising G5 coaches. He's done a lot with a little at Temple, knows the local recruiting area and might not be drawing the attention of as many Southern schools (hopefully). On the coordinator front, it's probably Scott Frost. In some ways, he may not be "ready." And if he's successful enough at Syracuse, he's definitely headed to Nebraska when they fire Mike Riley. But his Oregon personnel is a (very much) scaled-up version of the Orange's current skill players, and plugging him in could yield some immediate dividends. We're probably looking at $2.5M as a cap for what we can offer, so whichever of those two that's okay with that number, come on down!
BC Interruption: BC and Syracuse are both schools that have cycled through quarterbacks. Who will be starting on Saturday and what kind of play should we expect from him?
John Castillo:I'm 99 percent sure it's Zack Mahoney once again, if only because Eric Dungey definitely had a concussion a few weeks ago against Louisville and the fan base would tear Shafer to pieces on the way out if he tossed the latter QB out there in a needless game. Mahoney played well against LSU and Clemson this year, but laid a bit of an egg against NC State. You'll see him running a lot of option while struggling to throw. He will hit on a couple deep balls, however, if you leave enough receivers open (and you will, because you'll be putting more guys up front to stop the option).
BC Interruption: Let's talk about Syracuse's best player, Riley Dixon. What makes him such a dangerous weapon?
John Castillo: Riley Dixon's the rare punter that is big, strong and athletic as hell. He's a former QB, understands how to run offensive plays and has a long history of doing so at Syracuse now (all-time stats include one TD pass, over 60 rushing yards, three first downs, and a smart deep ball that drew a pass interference call vs. Clemson). As a punter, he's also super adept at pinning opponents inside the 10. You can be ready for whatever he's about to do (opponents usually are at this point), and it doesn't matter at all. He's just hell-bent on winning that Heisman.
BC Interruption: BC's offense is awful. It's been awful all year. Syracuse's defense isn't playing well either. Who on the defense has played well this season?
John Castillo: I hate talking about Syracuse's defense this year. But there have been a couple bright spots worth looking at, especially Ron Thompson. The team's best pass-rusher, Thompson is an aggressive and athletic former tight end who constantly finds himself in opposing backfields. You'll need to double him, because if you don't, he's blitzing on every play.
Linebacker Zaire Franklin is also worth looking out for, and plays similarly to Thompson, as in he's going to blitz a lot. Franklin hasn't been great in coverage, but has a nose for the football and is regularly employed in the aforementioned blitz schemes this defense runs.
BC Interruption: Prediction time....who you got?
John Castillo:'d love to see Syracuse grab a big win to send Shafer out on a positive note (we don't hate him -- he was a great defensive coordinator for us). I do think that having a bunch of injuries could prevent it, however. The one saving grace for me is that the Eagles' offense has struggled so much, and that it may override the Orange's defensive struggles. It won't be pretty, but you can pencil me in for a 24-20 Syracuse victory.