2008 Syracuse Preview |
Syracuse Defense |
2008 Syracuse Depth
2007 Syracuse Depth Chart
2006 CFN Syracuse Preview
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Head coach: Greg Robinson
4th year: 7-28
Off. 17, Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 28
Best Orange Players
1. NT Arthur Jones, Jr.
2. LB Jake Flaherty, Jr.
3. QB Andrew Robinson, Jr.
4. OG Ryan Durand, Sr.
5. RB Curtis Brinkley, Sr.
6. RB Delone Carter, Jr.
7. CB Mike Holmes, Soph.
8. PK Patrick Shandle, Sr.
9. P Rob Long, Soph.
10. OT Corey Chavers, Sr.
2008 Record: 0-0
Aug. 30 at
Sept. 6 Akron
Sept. 13 Penn State
Sept. 20 Northeastern
Sept. 27 Pitt
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 at West Virginia
Oct. 18 at South Florida
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 Louisville
Nov. 8 at Rutgers
Nov. 15 Connecticut
Nov. 22 at Notre Dame
Nov. 29 at Cincinnati
Iowa L 35-0
Sept. 22 at
Louisville W 38-35
at Miami Univ.
Virginia L 55-14
Rutgers L 38-14
Pitt L 20-17
South Florida L 41-10
Cincinnati L 52-31
Do or die. Now or
never. Must win. Every tired sports cliché applies to Orange head
coach Greg Robinson, whose 7-28 career record has left him as close to
job extinction as a coach can get while still remaining employed. That
Robinson wasn’t canned after going 2-10 a year ago was a shocker,
meaning it might take an improbable bowl game to stave off the axe.
Aug. 30 at Northwestern. A fast start is an absolute must for a program
that’s won just seven games over the last three years and is running on
empty in the confidence area. The Orange will be underdogs in Evanston,
but the Wildcats aren’t out-of-reach opponents. With an upset, Syracuse
can look forward to a full month of home cooking and a chance to build a
case for bowl eligibility.
A former Eastern power under Dick MacPherson and (to a lesser extent)
Paul Pasqualoni, Syracuse has been sinking fast in the 21st
century, playing in just two bowl games the decade and becoming the
bottom feeder in the Big East. Worse yet, the program has been lapped
by the rest of the league, including regional rivals Connecticut and
Rutgers, and fan interest has never been lower. Robinson was brought in
from the NFL to energize the program, but after three years, it’s in
worse shape than when he arrived.
If there’s going to be a paradigm shift in Upstate New York, the offense
will be the catalyst. While help is needed along the offensive line,
hope can be found behind center and at the skill positions.
Andrew Robinson is back for his second season as the starting
quarterback after throwing for 2,192 yards and nearly twice as many
touchdowns as interceptions, but now he’ll be without his two best
receivers, Taj Smith and Mike Williams. This was supposed to be the big
national breakout year for Williams, but he couldn’t find the classroom
and was suspended from the team.
The question marks in the passing game only makes an anemic offense that
much more reliant on the running game. It’s a big “if”, but if running
backs Delone Carter and Curtis Brinkley can return to their pre-injury
forms, the Orange will become a balanced offense capable of winning
shootouts. And thanks to one of the nation’s softest defenses, there
will be plenty of shootouts. Syracuse was last in the league in total
and scoring defense in 2007, a growing and disturbing trend under the
The talent and depth, especially on both lines, just isn’t there for
Syracuse to make the surprise run to the postseason that’s needed to
salvage Robinson’s job. Three or four wins is about as much as the
staff can milk from this group, which could create openings for a whole
new set of coaches in 2009.
What to watch for on offense:
The running game.
The Orange was second-to-last in the nation in rushing offense averaging
just 62.75 yards per game, but that wasn’t helped by 54 sacks bringing
down the overall total. Now with Mike Williams out of the picture, and
the receiving corps a mess, the coaching staff has figure out how to
pound away with the running game and hope for an explosive element to
come out of it. SU can’t win with its passing game without Williams.
What to watch for on defense:
The defensive back
seven to be an issue up until the opener, and beyond. Considering the SU
defense was last in the Big East and 111th in the nation in
yards allowed, the last thing this team needed was to have to start from
scratch. The line will turn out to be fine with some good
prospects working around tackle Arthur Jones, but the secondary is
trying to rebuild with several different options, including a few from
the offense, while the linebacking corps is a work in progress with
position battles on the outside to work around Jake Flaherty in the
The team will be far better if… the offensive line overachieves.
The Orange just isn’t going to win with defense, but the offense has the
potential to keep things competitive in track meets. The key will be to
protect Robinson, allowing him to develop without being under constant
pressure, and opening an occasional hole for whichever back is ready to
go. Considering how often Robinson was decked or flushed from the
pocket, it’s amazing he played as well as he did in his debut as the
regular. With time to settle in the pocket and locate a receiver, he
can take the next step in his maturation
There can't be many, if any, home gaffes with a rough road slate to deal
with. Unfortunately the Orange has to play Penn State in the Dome to go
along with supposed layups against Akron and Northeastern.
The away dates would be tough for anyone, much less a team trying to
rebuild. It doesn't get tougher in Big East play than going to West
Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers and Cincinnati, and there's a trip to
South Bend to face Notre Dame to make it three road games in the final
four weeks. There are five away games over the second half of the
season, while the season opener at Northwestern isn't going to be a
Robinson. With his top receiving weapons gone, and the loss of Williams,
Robinson has to make everyone around him better. He has the talent and
the experience to do just that, at least that’s the hope. He has to be
nothing short of sensational, and nearly flawless, for the passing game
to have any pop.
Best defensive player: NT Arthur Jones. A relative unknown
before last season, Jones erupted for 51 tackles and 17.5 tackles for
loss, earning a spot on the All-Big East Second Team. Quick off the
snap, he’s also plenty strong enough to fight through double teams and
make stops for negative yards. At a sturdy 6-4 and 291 pounds, he has
the unmistakable frame of a tackle, yet slides up and down the line with
the agility of some ends.
Key players to a successful season: RBs Delone Carter and Curtis
Brinkley. At this time last year, the Orange appeared set in the
backfield for at least the next few seasons. That was before Carter
suffered a serious hip injury and Brinkley broke his leg. For the
offense to keep defenses honest, it needs much more from a running
attack that disappeared once its two horses went down. Considering the
problems Syracuse has pass blocking, it can’t produce 62 yards a game on
the ground and expect to win many games.
The season will be a success if ... the Orange grinds out a sixth
win to earn bowl eligibility. While it’s a reach considering how deep
the Big East has become, Syracuse needs tangible evidence that it’s
moving in the right direction under Coach Robinson. Tacking a win or
two on to last year’s 2-10 mark isn’t going to move the needle. The
program is pining for the momentum that comes with a bowl game, no
matter how small the venue or the payout may be.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Opponents 54 for 324 yards – Syracuse 9 for 65 yards
- Total scoring: Opponents 418 – Syracuse 197
- Rushing TDs: Opponents 30 – Syracuse 5