All it took was a week for the Atlantic Coast Conference to be flipped upside down.Boston College beat Syracuse, which beat Miami, which beat North Carolina State, which beat Virginia Tech, which beat Duke, which beat Georgia Tech, which beat North Carolina, which beat Clemson, which beat Wake Forest, which beat Boston College.Deep breath.The ACC wheel of confusion continues to spin two weeks into conference play and it has no sign of stopping. Boston College, projected as the worst team in the league, is 2-2. Duke, Virginia and Louisville, projected as top contenders, have an identical 2-2 conference record. The only teams unbeaten in ACC play are Florida State and Notre Dame, which weren’t even ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 until the third and fifth week of the season, respectively.The more one tries to make sense of the ACC, the less sense the league makes. It presents Syracuse (10-7, 2-2 ACC) with a chance and a challenge — depending on how you look at it — because in the ACC this year, anything goes. And with 14 regular season conference games left, there’s no telling where the Orange will land in March.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter the Orange lost six of its first 14 games of the year, SU beat Miami and Pittsburgh back-to-back. All of a sudden, Syracuse catapulted into the middle of the conference’s pack. Word spread throughout the ACC, leaving some with only one explanation. Published on January 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm The result is a hodge podge of speculation and guessing where Syracuse will slot in at the end of the year. No one can predict the future, especially in this league. But it’s more than likely the Orange ends up somewhere in the middle, since, you know, that’s where every team in the ACC will be.“I just think it’s incredibly hard to win a game in this league,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. “… And I think it’s just going to stay clumped together because it’s so hard to win a game.”What’s in store for Syracuse remains to be seen. In the last 14 games, there will likely be lots of wins and lots of losses. The roller-coaster ride is sure to continue. And in a league where no one knows, you best just buckle up.Paul Schwedelson is a senior staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @pschweds. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Entering Thursday, the ACC had 11 teams in the top 50 in Ratings Percentage Index, also known as RPI. It’s a ranking system used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The Big Ten had seven teams and the Southeastern Conference had six teams, just more than half the number of the ACC.“(The ACC) was one of the places I wanted to be,” said Syracuse’s Andrew White, who transferred this offseason from the Big Ten’s Nebraska, “just because you face the best programs, the best players and the best coaches in the country and that’s where you want to step your game up.”There’s no denying that the ACC is the best conference in college basketball. How that affects the Orange can be interpreted in different ways.SU is currently on the outside looking in based on most NCAA Tournament projections. But with seven games remaining against AP Top 25 teams, the Orange has more than enough opportunities to play its way back into contention.“Fortunately there’s a lot of tough games in this league,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said, “that you can get a chance to win if you play well.”The problem for SU, though, is that as all the ACC teams beat up on each other, the top teams in the league aren’t as highly regarded as they once were. At the start of the season, four ACC teams resided in the top 13 in the AP Poll, including two in the top six. Now, there isn’t a single ACC team in the top six. There are six ranked teams, one more than at the start of the year, but if top dogs keep losing, the quality of a win against a team like Duke, Virginia or North Carolina isn’t the same. Those top teams may still be good enough to beat Syracuse and the teams that are beating them are better than once thought.According to CBS Sports, nine ACC teams are projected to get into the Tournament. ESPN’s projection has 10. Neither include Syracuse. With a late-season surge from the Orange and others, the ACC could match the Big East’s record 11 Tournament teams in 2011. But that would mean SU has to rack up quality wins and in the topsy-turvy ACC it’s hard to distinguish which opponents actually make for those.
Syracuse football’s training camp begins July 30. Every day leading up and into camp, The Daily Orange’s football beat writers will take a look at some of the upcoming season’s most pressing storylines, players and position battles. Read more on the Countdown to Camp here.Dino Babers’ offense leans heavily on the passing game. Look at Amba Etta-Tawo’s 94 receptions last season for evidence. Yet SU finished 13 out of 14 Atlantic Coast Conference teams in rushing last season and 44 percent of the team’s carries went to a quarterback group led by the injury-cursed Eric Dungey. Running backs need to touch the ball more in 2017. Babers knows that.“You just can’t go back and throw the ball every single snap and be consistently good,” Babers said on the ACC spring coaches teleconference. “…We’re working hard on not only running the football but making sure we’re able to stop the run.”Former starter Jordan Fredericks averaged five yards per touch last year, but transferred to Massachusetts after receiving only 28 carries. As of now, junior Dontae Strickland is at the front of the depth chart. Moe Neal sits a slot below him. Strickland will get the bulk of the limited handoffs to start, but every touch for Neal is a chance to gain ground.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerAfter spending his freshman season at the now-gone hybrid position, Strickland received 168 carries as the team’s primary running back last season. He tallied 566 yards and four touchdowns, while adding another 132 yards and two scores on 21 receptions. Four carries in the annual spring game equated to seven yards. Expect to hear his name a lot this year.How they Compare:Dontae Strickland #4: Junior, 5-11, 207Moe Neal #21: Sophomore, 5-11, 182Neal carried a smaller load last season, but he produced more when given the rock. His 357 yards on 68 carries were good for an average 5.3 yards per touch, a solid mark for a true freshman. And despite being briefly listed as a slot receiver this spring, Neal caught only two passes last season. As of now, all indications point to him doing most of his damage out of the backfield, but it’s a fair bet he will be good for more than two receptions this year.It will be easy to look to other positions as the hinges of what Syracuse’s offense will or will not be in 2017. Eric Dungey’s health is an obvious one. The void left by Etta-Tawo’s departure and a reshuffled offensive line are two more. Still, as Babers admitted, it’s hard to put points on the board if the passing game is a team’s only game, and Strickland and Neal bear the responsibility of making sure that won’t be the case. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on July 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm Contact: email@example.com | @jtbloss
“We’re going to give him the opportunity to do both,” Angels scouting director Matt Swanson said. “He enjoys doing both. He did both during the summer. Like what we did with Will English, we’ll allow him to get in the system and let him dictate his career. Maybe they’ll develop both ways. Maybe two or three years from now it will slide one way or another. But when you capture an athlete and give him the opportunity to do both, it’s valuable to them and it’s valuable to us.”Perfect Game USA assigns percentile rankings to pitchers as young as middle school age. The draft suggests these rankings couldn’t matter less.OTHER DRAFT TRENDSGeography never seemed to matter less than it did in 2019.Elon University, located in central North Carolina, boasted an undergraduate enrollment of 6,196 students in the 2018-19 school year. Four of them, including Angels eighth-rounder Kyle Brnovich, were chosen in the draft.Related Articles In his new book, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World,” the author David Epstein began with a premise about sports. Roger Federer played a variety of sports as a child, from skiing to squash, before settling on tennis as a teenager. Tiger Woods famously appeared with a golf club on “The Mike Douglas Show” as a 2-year-old. One began as a generalist, the other a specialist. Each became the best athlete in the world at his chosen sport as an adult. Which path, Epstein wondered, was the more reliable route to a successful career?The title gives away the answer.At the risk of sticking a broad concept where it doesn’t apply, major league draft directors offered a decent endorsement for Epstein’s thesis in this year’s draft. Younger specialists – high school athletes who played only baseball – fell out of favor. Older specialists and younger generalists were in.For proof of concept, look at how two of baseball’s most progressive teams, the Astros and Dodgers, navigated the annual 40-round exercise. Houston used only two of its first 35 draft picks on high school players, the Dodgers two of their first 28. That’s nothing compared to Bryant University, located in Smithfield, Rhode Island, which boasts an undergrad enrollment of 3,499. Three, including Dodgers eighth-rounder Ryan Ward, were chosen in the draft.Then there’s Western Oregon University, located in Monmouth, which has four draftees enrolled among its 4,648 undergrads. Go Wolves.Bloodlines mattered again, too. The Dodgers drafted the son of retired catcher/minor league coach Bill Hasleman (Ty), and the son of retired catcher Matt Sinatro (Danny). The Padres drafted Dave Roberts’ son, Cole, who’s committed to Loyola Marymount University.AH, THE NAMESAs always, the draft yielded names that would surely be rejected by a book publisher.A.J. Bumpass (Reds), Michael McAvenue (Cubs), Zane Zurbrugg (Brewers), Fineas Del Bonta-Smith (Rockies), Maverick Handley (Orioles), Jaxx Groshans (Red Sox), Kona Quiggle (Tigers) and Jackxarel Lebron (Blue Jays) make a mean lineup. Marcus Lee Sang (Phillies) joins Jack Cust and Ray Shook as the rare professional ballplayers whose names are complete sentences. Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies The Dodgers’ second pick, University of North Carolina infielder Michael Busch, played football and hockey in high school. So did their second-round pick last year, University of West Virginia pitcher Michael Grove. Before he was an outfielder at St. Mary’s College, Dodgers 15th-round pick Joe Vranesh was a tight end/linebacker for Concord De La Salle, the top-ranked high school football program in the country. The Astros’ top pick, Cal catcher Kody Lee, possesses a Federerian background. According to his college biography, Lee played three years of water polo at Vista High (San Diego County) and “counts body surfing, bowling, and golfing among his hobbies.” Being a generalist isn’t enough to rocket a young athlete to the top of a major league draft board, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.The opposite might hurt more.Tommy John, the son of the retired pitcher, expressed this thought to me last year. We spoke on the occasion of the release of his own youth athlete training guide, “Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance.” John, a chiropractor based in San Diego, is an advocate for generalists. More than endorsing the long-term benefits of generalizing, John cautioned against the short-term drawbacks of specializing – specifically, the heightened injury risk it presents a youth athlete. The rising rate of Tommy John elbow surgery among baseball players prior to college is the most prominent example, or at least the most personal for John.Though Epstein, a former Sports Illustrated staff writer, began his thesis with the example of Federer, he did not stick to sports. “Studies on the development of musicians have found that, like athletes, the most promising often have a period of sampling and lightly structured play before finding the instrument and genre that suits them,” he wrote.More than any major league team, the Angels seem to be applying this theory to their single-sport specialists. After signing Japanese pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani a year ago, they subsequently employed four more two-way players in the minors: Jared Walsh, Kaleb Cowart, Bo Way and William English. Tuesday, the Angels used their fourth-round draft pick on yet another two-way player, Puerto Rican high schooler Erik Rivera. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Angels fail to take series in Oakland, lose in 10 innings