AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPosition-by-position breakdownQuarterbacksHunt missed too many simple passes for this position to get a passing grade. AJ Long, and to a lesser extent Austin Wilson, gives Orange fans hope. But hope alone doesn’t win football games.Running backsOne of the deepest groups Syracuse has really hasn’t proved it. Although Prince-Tyson Gulley has displayed his explosiveness, George Morris II has done little in his limited opportunities. Adonis Ameen-Moore isn’t producing as the power back he was in 2012. And freshman Ervin Philips has only displayed flashes of talent.Wide receiversThe absences of Ashton Broyld and Brisly Estime haven’t helped the productivity of this unit, but neither have the players on the field. Freshman Steve Ishmael caught two touchdowns against Florida State and is starting to come on, but whether it’s Hunt, Long, Wilson or Riley Dixon, the receivers have been sub-subpar.Tight endsWith Josh Parris and Kendall Moore swapping stints on the sideline, this unit hasn’t had a chance to excel and it hasn’t. Before the season, tight ends coach Bobby Acosta set a goal of 51 receptions for the position group. Through six games, the tight ends have nine.Offensive lineThe offensive line’s had its highs — allowing just 4 sacks this year, tied for lowest in the ACC — but certainly its lows as well. Penalties were a common theme through the first half of the season and have been a major roadblock for the Orange’s red-zone offense, which has plagued SU through its four-game losing streak. Although the front five paved the way for a steady rushing attack early on, SU hasn’t eclipsed 156 yards on the ground the past three games.Defensive lineSyracuse has pressured every quarterback it’s faced and kept opposing run games in check. With the emergence of Wayne Williams, the unit is actually growing in depth too. Defensive line coach Tim Daoust has said he wants his players to be written about every week. If much of the rest of the team wasn’t floundering by comparison, it would be talked about around the ACC.LinebackersCameron Lynch has established himself as one of the top linebackers in the ACC. He’s averaged just more than eight tackles a game and leads the Orange in total wrap-ups by 17. While Marqez Hodge has taken over the middle spot, Lynch and fellow senior Dyshawn Davis have been veteran leaders for a group with a bright future.SecondaryThere are a lot of factors that play into an opposing team’s passing success, but the secondary naturally catches the brunt of any pass-defense deficiencies. The Orange’s pass defense has certainly been statistically weaker than its rush defense, as SU has given up 11 passing touchdowns to six rushing, and 252 passing yards per game — which places it toward the bottom of the conference in that category.ReturnersWith Estime not fully healthy, SU’s return game has suffered and is third to last in the ACC in average yards per kick return. Philips hasn’t brought a kickoff past the 30-yard line since the season opener. However, the Orange is sixth in the ACC in average yards per punt returns and none of SU’s returners have fumbled a return.PuntersDixon has been the best player on this team and pinning back the best of opponents. Yeah, he had a punt blocked, but it wasn’t his fault. He threw a game-winning touchdown against Villanova and ran for 42 yards against Notre Dame. And he’s the punter.KickersIf Cole Murphy had the starting spot since the beginning of the season, Syracuse’s kickers would have a different level of progress. But Ryan Norton’s early-season woes set the group back significantly. Norton made 4-of-7 field goals before being replaced by Murphy — who made his first start against Notre Dame — and has made 6-of-7 field goals since. Published on October 14, 2014 at 12:51 am First-half assessments and updated season predictionsPhil D’AbbraccioThe Real Slim ShadyOriginal season prediction: 6-6Updated prediction: 5-7With a healthy Terrel Hunt, maybe Syracuse could pull off winning four of the next six. But the inexperience that the Orange has to throw out onto the field due to injuries will go 3-3 the rest of the way and miss bowl contention.Scott Shafer: B-It’s only been one game, but it appears that Shafer’s coaching change-up has infused some semblance of life into a Syracuse offense that failed to finish drives the previous three weeks. The injuries that have plagued this team to a 2-4 start don’t fall on Shafer’s shoulders. Through the rough start, he still appears to have the full support of the rest of the program.Jesse DoughertyThe Doctor’s InOriginal season prediction: 6-6Updated prediction: 5-7With two wins to its name, Syracuse starts the second half with a win over Wake Forest and then scraps out two more. Potential wins include North Carolina State, Duke, Pittsburgh and Boston College, and saying the Orange will split 2-2 in those four games doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch.Scott Shafer: B-In a lot of ways, a team’s record is a reflection of its head coach. But what I’ve really liked about Shafer so far this season is his willingness to try things, like anything from trick plays to demoting his offensive coordinator. It shows that he’s not willing to be satisfied with the mediocre hand he’s been dealt, with a host of injuries setting SU back. It’s also not an easy thing to shake up a coaching staff like he did, and signs against Florida State showed that it could be a positive change moving forward.Jacob KlingerClear Eyes, One HeartOriginal season prediction: 7-5Updated prediction: 4-8The season began with the promise of a fast-paced offense backed by a typically aggressive Scott Shafer defense. Blitzes and a strong run defense happened. But the offense has mostly fallen apart when it gets within striking distance of the end zone and the Orange pass defense has been beat too deep too much. Mediocrity has been the result.Scott Shafer: CHe appears to be holding together a team that has plenty of reasons to be divided — an offense that’s much worse than the defense, a coaching shake-up and more losses than wins. It’s still his job to win, but Shafer can’t be blamed for injuries and SU seems to be back to improving. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ With Syracuse (2-4, 0-2) halfway through its season and on a four-game skid, Daily Orange beat writers Phil D’Abbraccio, Jesse Dougherty and Jacob Klinger look back at the first six games and ahead to the final stretch.First, here is how they graded each position, as well as the entire team. Total grades for positions and the team were averaged out from each writers’ marks.