Trishton Jackson, special teams up in season-ending stock watch

first_imgSyracuse’s (5-7, 2-6 Atlantic Coast) season ended positively on Saturday, as the Orange took down Wake Forest, 39-30, in overtime on a Trill Williams walk-off fumble return for a touchdown.As a whole, however, SU’s season was largely a disappointment in terms of its expectations heading into the year. The Orange won 10 games last season en route to finishing second in the ACC and winning the Camping World Bowl, leading many to believe the 2019 season could potentially be even better. Instead, Syracuse won half as many games and failed to defeat a Power 5 opponent until its 10th game of the season.Here’s whose stock is up or down, looking back at the Orange’s 2019 campaign.STOCK UPAdvertisementThis is placeholder textJackson gave Syracuse fans a glimpse of what he could do in the Camping World Bowl last year, making his SU debut with three catches, 27 yards and a touchdown. He built on that performance this season, quickly establishing himself as the No. 1 receiver in the Orange offense. His breakout performance came in Syracuse’s week two loss to Maryland, in which Jackson totaled seven catches for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’d go on to have four more 100-plus yard games and finished top-5 in the ACC in receptions, yards and touchdowns.Despite some early-season criticism, DeVito passed the test as Syracuse’s starting quarterback this year, throwing for 19 touchdowns and 2,360 yards, both top-10 single-season marks in SU history. The redshirt sophomore had five games with 250 yards or more and four games with three touchdown passes or more, including back-to-back contests against Western Michigan and Holy Cross in which he threw four touchdowns in each. Despite being sacked nearly 50 times, one of the worst marks in the country, DeVito fought through injuries and growing pains to carve out one of the best Syracuse passing seasons ever.As expected, SU’s special teams unit was again one of the best in the country. After kicker Andre Szmyt won the Lou Groza award for the best kicker in the nation last season and punter Sterling Hofrichter joined him on the All-ACC first team, Hofrichter is now up for the punter’s equivalent of the award, the Ray Guy award. Hofrichter led the ACC in punts inside the 20-yard line and fair catches, also ranking second in total punt yardage. Szmyt, meanwhile, earned third-team All-ACC honors this season after connecting on 17-of-20 field goals and 39-of-40 extra points.STOCK DOWNThe negatives of the Orange have to start with their offensive line, which struggled to find any consistency all year after starting center Sam Heckel was injured in the season-opener. Issues in pass protection led to 50 total sacks on the season, the third-most out of 130 FBS teams. DeVito and backup quarterback Clayton Welch were often given little-to-no time to make a play and both battled injuries throughout the year. The line’s run blocking was poor too, as Syracuse ball-carriers were tackled for a loss 98 times, seventh-worst in the nation. But the problems didn’t stop at the offensive line’s production. Ryan Alexander, who started six games at right tackle, left the program in late October, forcing true freshman Matthew Bergeron into service to finish the season.Syracuse had some standouts defensively this year, namely All-ACC honorees Cisco and Lakiem Williams, but struggled as a unit. The Orange allowed 5,569 total yards to opposing offenses, second-worst in the ACC, as well as 30.7 points per game, also near the bottom of the conference. After a 2018 season in which SU improved defensively, forcing a turnover in every game, Syracuse struggled and defensive coordinator Brian Ward was fired late in the year. Now, the Orange head into the offseason with a question mark at the coaching position as well as the graduation of more than half of its defensive starters.Syracuse stumbled in one of the most controllable areas of the game, penalties. The Orange were the fourth-most penalized team in the nation, averaging just under nine per game, their highest in over 10 years. The flags came down on both sides of the ball, ranging from offensive line penalties to mental mistakes after plays. SU was even called for a pair of targeting penalties in the same game against Holy Cross, its only such penalties this season. In an underwhelming year, staying disciplined and limiting penalties was one way the Orange could’ve increased their margin for error. They didn’t. Comments Published on December 4, 2019 at 1:12 am Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more