2009 CFN Syracuse Preview
Syracuse RB Delone Carter
Syracuse RB Delone Carter
Posted Jul 1, 2009 2009 Preview - Syracuse Orange

Syracuse Orange

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2009 Syracuse Preview | 2009 Syracuse Offense
2009 Syracuse Defense | 2009 Syracuse Depth Chart 
- 2008 Syracuse Preview |
2007 SU Preview | 2006 SU Preview 

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Head coach: Doug Maronne
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Orange Players
1. NT Arthur Jones, Sr.
2. WR Mike Williams, Jr.
3. P Rob Long, Jr.
4. LB Derrell Smith, Jr.
5. FS Mike Holmes, Jr.
6. C Jim McKinzie, Jr.
7. WR Donte Davis, Jr.
8. TE Mike Owen, Sr.
9. RB Antwon Bailey, Soph.
10. DE Jared Kimmel, Jr. .

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Minnesota
9/12 at Penn State
9/19 Northwestern
9/26 Maine
10/3 USF
10/10 West Virginia
10/24 Akron
10/31 Cincinnati
11/7 at Pitt
11/14 at Louisville
11/21 Rutgers
11/28 at Connecticut

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
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 30-21
Sept. 27 Pitt L 34-24
Oct. 11 at West Virginia L 17-6
Oct. 18 at South Florida L 45-13
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

The coaching staff is new, but the edict remains the same: Restore the pride back in Syracuse football.

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 decades.

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 for now.

What 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.

Key game: 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



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