Eight wins. That is the mark that Scott Shafer outlined as the baseline goal for the 2014 Syracuse Orange. He has repeated it multiple times and the players have reiterated that statement as where Syracuse wants to be when the season concludes.
Are those expectations realistic? Sure they are. As a program, you want to improve year after year. The roster certainly looks significantly better overall when you compare it to last season or in recent years. The quality of the athlete is better. There is more size, speed and athleticism at nearly every position.
Last season, Syracuse finished 7-6 after rallying toward the end of the year. An eight-win season would take another step towards improvement. It would continue the momentum that Syracuse has earned on the recruiting trail.
"We just want to get better every day," Shafer said. "We want to try to win, at bare minimum, one more game than we won last year. Then hopefully more than that. Really try to put a footprint in the northeast in recruiting."
The schedule is manageable. There is a tough stretch starting with the matchup with Notre Dame in MetLife stadium, but the rest of the schedule features several that Syracuse will be the favorite and others that are very winnable.
The team returns a lot of starters from last season and the coaching staff is mostly in tact from a year ago. All of these factors point to an improved Syracuse football team.
Having expectations is a good thing. It is a sign that the program is trending in the right direction. That the roster is improving and the coaching staff is building something.
Eight wins is realistic but a step up from the previous season. Eight wins is manageable given the schedule. Eight wins establishes Syracuse as a program that is not going back to what it was several years ago. Eight wins is a goal that would create even larger expectations for the following year. And that is a very good thing.
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