As the Syracuse Orange work to prepare for their move to the ACC in 2013, they face a lot of questions over the summer. Concerns over the quarterback position and how well Scott Shafer transitions into the head coach role leave plenty of trepidation when it comes to projecting Cuse next season. Also not helping their case is a rough road to kick off their schedule which could short-circuit any positive momentum for a strong inaugural run through their new conference.
Syracuse kicks off the season with a non-conference game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at MetLife Stadium. That kicks off a slate that will send Syracuse on the road another three times in first two months of the season against the Northwestern Wildcats, NC State Wolfpack and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Their only home game in the first seven games against a BCS opponent is their ACC-opener against the Clemson Tigers, a likely top-10 team next fall and rough introduction into the conference.
That is a rough stretch for any team, but particularly for a club that is looking to establish an identity in unfamiliar territory. Syracuse still doesn’t know just what their team will look like next season, but they won’t get a lot of opportunity to figure it out as the competition will be stiff right from the opening weekend. A few quick losses could impact the confidence of the club and set them back before they get a chance to get their feet underneath them in 2013.
It will be imperative for Shafer and the Orange to have a great fall camp this August so that they can hit the ground running when the season kicks off. If they come out stumbling and struggle to establish their identity from the opening kickoff, they could find themselves buried before they even get started in the ACC.