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2009 CFN Syracuse Preview
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Interested in blogging
about Syracuse football?
The coaching staff is new, but the edict remains the same: Restore the
pride back in Syracuse football.
Head coach: Doug Maronne
1st year: 0-0
Off. 25, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Best Orange Players
1. NT Arthur Jones, Sr.
2. WR Mike
3. P Rob Long, Jr.
4. LB Derrell Smith,
5. FS Mike Holmes, Jr.
6. C Jim McKinzie, Jr.
WR Donte Davis, Jr.
8. TE Mike Owen, Sr.
9. RB Antwon
10. DE Jared Kimmel, Jr. .
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2009 Record: 0-0
9/12 at Penn State
10/10 West Virginia
10/17 OPEN DATE
11/7 at Pitt
11/14 at Louisville
11/28 at Connecticut
12/5 OPEN DATE
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2008 Record: 3-9
Aug. 30 at
Northwestern L 30-10
Sept. 6 Akron L 42-28
Sept. 13 Penn State L 55-13
Sept. 20 Northeastern W
Sept. 27 Pitt L 34-24
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 at West Virginia L 17-6
Oct. 18 at South Florida L 45-13
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 Louisville W 28-21
Nov. 8 at Rutgers L 35-17
Nov. 15 Connecticut L 39-14
Nov. 22 at Notre Dame W 24-23
Nov. 29 at Cincinnati L 30-10
Former Orange captain and New
Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Doug Marrone has been hired to
replace Greg Robinson, who failed miserably in his tenure, going just
10-37 and leaving the cupboard rather bare. By every possible
measurement, Marrone has walked into one of the most difficult
situations in America. And he knows it.
You can win at Syracuse.
History shows it. However, this decade has eroded much of the work done
by Dick MacPherson in the 1980s and Paul Pasqualoni in the 1990s. The
program is a shell of its former self, appearing in just two bowl games
since 2000 and going six straight years without a winning season. The
talent has been depleted, fan interest is waning, and, save for the
release of a movie, no one pays attention to the program outside the Big
East. Marrone is taking over at the school’s lowest point in over three
The coach has no experience running a program, which
made his hiring somewhat of a curious choice. What he does have is the
energy, positive attitude, and no-nonsense work ethic to gradually
change the culture of losing in Upstate New York and begin a slow
turnaround. At least that’s the plan. It’s going to take time, patience,
and an influx of much more talent.
Syracuse will not be
contending for one of the league’s automatic bowl berths this season.
There are too many questions to feel confident about anything beyond the
Sept. 26 visit from Maine. The offense needs better play at quarterback.
The defense is a mess. And the special teams has holes. It’s basically
the trifecta for another bowl-less postseason. Success, though, will not
be defined by the standings or any other statistical output. Nope. This
year, for Marrone and his guys, is all about setting a new course for
the program, weeding out those kids that don’t belong, and laying out a
vision for the future. It’s not sexy, but it’s where the Orange is stuck
to watch for on offense: More of an attitude. With the
new staff will come a quest for an old school, smash-mouth approach on
offense. Now, that doesn’t mean the Orange will ignore the pass once the
quarterback situation gets settled in the summer. No, Syracuse wants to
get the passing attack cranking as quickly as possible, but it also
wants to eventually intimidate opponents with their physical play in the
trenches and between the tackles. For a while, the running game will be
setting up the passing game, which is a good fit for how the personnel
is currently assembled.
What to watch for on
defense: The development of the pass rush. There’ll be
no overnight solution for this defense, but if more heat can be
generated conventionally, the glaring problems in the back seven may not
be so obvious. While new coordinator Scott Shafer has had a history of
coaching attacking units, he’ll have to be careful not to leave the pass
defense without ample protection. Ideally, he can get more pressure from
defensive ends Jared Kimmel and Chandler Jones, who’ve got the physical
ability to come through. If the rush remains feeble, however, the
secondary will be toast.
The team will be far
better if… the running game can build on last year’s
respectable results. If the Orange is going to be more competitive in
2009, running the ball successfully with Antwon Bailey, Delone Carter,
and Averin Collier is an absolute must. The offense will require it,
especially if rookie Ryan Nassib is calling the signals. And the D will
need it as well. Extended drives and longer blows on the sidelines will
be the dilapidated defense’s best friend.
The Schedule: Syracuse isn't joining the Big Ten, but it'll start out
the year with three games against the league with two home games against
Minnesota and Northwestern and a road date at Penn State. The Big East
slate is as good as can be asked for with just three road games and with
West Virginia, South Florida, and Cincinnati coming to the Dome.
However, the Orange, after going from September 19th to November 7
without playing a road game, finishes up with three road games in the
final four going to Pitt, Louisville and Connecticut.
Best offensive player:
Junior WR Mike Williams. Williams was not with the program last fall,
and his absence was felt throughout the offense. A physical 6-2,
204-pounder, he has the hands, technique, and body control to continue
putting up big numbers in an offense that infrequently produces them. In
his last full season two years ago, he caught 60 passes for 837 yards
and 10 touchdowns, including one in each of the last nine games.
Best defensive player:
Senior NT Arthur Jones. A 6-4, 291-pound sore thumb, he sticks out as
the one Orange player with a legitimate chance at a long NFL career. He
has quietly put together back-to-back banner seasons, despite enduring
loads of double-teams, earning All-Big East honors and racking up
tackles behind the line of scrimmage. While he possesses the
unmistakable frame of an interior lineman, he slides and gets off the
snap with the quickness of a defensive end.
Key player to a
successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Ryan Nassib.
While there’s no single player, who’s going to get Syracuse out of the
ditch, it would serve as an immense boost if the program can finally
start developing a quarterback of the future. Plus, a capable hurler
would give the offense some balance and maximize the talents of Mike
Williams and a decent corps of receivers.
The season will be a
success if ... Syracuse can somehow work its way out of
last place in the Big East. Absolutely no one is expecting much in Doug
Marrone’s first season, but if he can guide the Orange to a couple of
league wins, it’ll provide a rallying point and a little ounce of
momentum heading into the 2010 season.
Nov. 14 at Louisville. The first small step in the rebuilding process
will require the Orange to get out of the Big East cellar and start the
long climb up the ladder. The best chance of achieving that will be to
defeat the Cardinals for the third consecutive year. By this time of the
season, all of the changes, from the staff to the personnel, should be
implemented and less of an issue.
2008 Fun Stats:
- Punt returns: Opponents 31 for 328 yards (10.6) - Syracuse 11
for 49 (4.5)
- Third down conversions: Opponents 85-of-166 (51%) -
Syracuse 45-of-156 (29%)
- Penalties: Opponents 71 for 649 yards -
Syracuse 43 for 460 yards