Even with one year under his belt, it doesn't get easier for Syracuse's Scott Shafer.
Shafer, who guided the Orange to a 7-6 record and a bowl victory in his rookie season as coach, kicked off his second year on Saturday with the news that star kicker Ross Krautman's career was over. He will not return following hip surgery that cut short his 2013 season after two games.
A three-year starter, Krautman ranks as one of the top kickers in school history. After tying the school record with 18 field goals as a freshman, including a school record-matching 16 in a row, Krautman led the Big East with a 78.9 field-goal percentage as a sophomore. He ranks second on Syracuse with a kicking percentage of 78 percent and leaves tied for third in field goals made with 49, fifth in points with 257, and fourth in PATs with 110.
"We were really hopeful he was going to make it back," Shafer said. "It's continued to be a bother to him and chronic, and he's had a lot of pain with it. He'll be missed."
After a comeback victory over Boston College in the 2013 season finale that made the Orange eligible for the postseason, Syracuse capped Shafer's first season with a 21-17 win over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl.
In the school's second year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Shafer has a "start point" of eight regular-season wins, despite what the NCAA has ranked as the nation's eighth-toughest schedule. Opponents include defending national champ Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame, ACC newcomer Louisville, Pitt and Duke.
"You always want to have a start point, but you never want to set limits on yourself, both as individuals and as a team," Shafer said. "I don't worry about that (the schedule). We never have here. Nobody who lines up against us cares about that."
The up-tempo offense is led by junior quarterback Terrel Hunt, who took over as the starter four games into last season.
"Going high tempo is really going to help us out a lot, and it's a feeling like no other knowing I'm the starter," Hunt said. "I went from every day going home wondering if I was going to even play, to now where I can just think of running the team. Now that I know what to expect, being more comfortable in the ACC, and coming into the season with your head held high, that's a big difference."
Syracuse opens the season at home against Villanova on Aug. 29.