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2010 Syracuse Preview
Syracuse LB Derrell Smith
Syracuse LB Derrell Smith
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 25, 2010


Syracuse has had its issues over the last few years, but can head coach Doug Marrone be the difference in his second year? He has a whale of a linebacking corps, led by Derrell Smith, and the offense should be better, but can the Orange be more of a factor? Check out the CFN 2010 Syracuse Preview.


Syracuse Orange

Preview 2010
 

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Doug Marrone
Second year: 4-8
Returning Lettermen
Off. 25, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Syracuse Players
1. LB Derrell Smith, Sr.
2. LB Doug Hogue, Sr.
3. C Ryan Bartholomew, Sr.
4. P Rob Long, Sr.
5. FS Mike Holmes, Sr.
6. DE Chandler Jones, Soph.
7. FS Shamarko Thomas, Soph.
8. WR Alec Lemon, Soph.
9. RB Antwon Bailey, Jr.
10. LG Adam Rosner, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 at Akron
Sept. 11 at Washington
Sept. 18 Maine
Sept. 25 Colgate
Oct. 2 OPEN DATE
Oct. 9 at USF
Oct. 16 Pitt
Oct. 23 at West Virginia
Oct. 30 at Cincinnati
Nov. 6 Louisville
Nov. 13 at Rutgers
Nov. 20 Connecticut
Nov. 27 Boston College

The ground floor of Doug Marrone’s reclamation project now laid, Syracuse plans to begin adding new floors in 2010.

Marrone and his staff spent much of last season tearing down the bad habits and bad fits from the Greg Robinson era and slowly building it all back up. There was plenty of turnover in personnel, a gradual shift in climate, and a new course of direction. Hopefully. Sure, there were on-field highlights, such as the November rout of Rutgers and improvement of the D, but most of the Orange’s growth has been of the intangible variety, something it hopes to begin changing.

Marrone will be forging ahead with a blend of veterans, like C Ryan Bartholomew, LB Derrell Smith, and FS Mike Holmes, and his recruits, such as WR Alec Lemon, LT Justin Pugh, and SS Shamarko Thomas. On offense, the weaker side of the ball in Upstate New York, the head coach is taking the reigns of the offense, employing an attack that uses old-school formations, but takes more shots downfield. His first quarterback will be unproven sophomore Ryan Nassib, who’s being elevated from the backup job. While the defense has the building blocks for success, the overall growth of the program will require more pop and better execution out of the offense.

With Marrone playing the role of an orange and blue broom, the program has cleaned house over the last 18 months. A different team than when the new staff took over, the Orange is aiming at proving that you can still win at Syracuse and be competitive in the Big East. While there’s plenty of rebuilding left to be done, there is a sense around campus that the darkest moments are in the past and better days loom on the horizon.

What to watch for on offense: The development of the tackles. Arguably the biggest area of concern for the Orange, two inexperienced tackles are being put in charge of protecting the pocket. On the left side, Justin Pugh has a high ceiling, but he also has a limited resume after redshirting in 2009. Over on the right side, Michael Hay is set to make his debut out of Nassau (NY) Community College. If the Syracuse offense is going to finally display a pulse on a consistent basis, it’ll need these two players to perform beyond their expectations right away.

What to watch for on defense: Non-stop pressure. Coordinator Scott Shafer wants to pressure from the moment his kids get off the bus, and has the right blend of athletes to get it done. At defensive end, Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich are long and lean athletes coming into their own. At linebacker, Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue form one of the most insidious pass-rushing tandems in the country. Opposing quarterbacks better be prepared for a small window to make connections with receivers because the Orange will be in their face for all 60 minutes.

The team will be far better if… the results start matching all of the returning talent in the secondary. Sure, Syracuse has six players back with starting experience, but will it actually make a difference on Saturdays? The Orange has been feeble in pass defense the last three years, ranking lower than 100th nationally at the conclusion of each season. The program doesn’t have the offensive attack to keep pace in shootouts, meaning these defensive backs better tighten up in coverage or else the school will have a difficult time getting out of neutral.

The Schedule: The team should be a little better in Doug Marrone's second year, but it's not going to be making plans for the BCS. It should be good enough to get through Akron and Maine without a problem and hope for a 3-1 start, with the one loss likely to come at Washington. Playing Boston College in the regular season finale isn't going to be easy, but it ends a nice run of three home games in the final four. The Big East slate doesn't have a bunch of breaks going on the road to face USF, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Rutgers and with three road games in a four week stretch and with four away dates in a six game stretch.

Best offensive player: Senior C Ryan Bartholomew. The lone member of the 2009 All-Big East team at Syracuse, Bartholomew is making the move from guard to center this fall to address a team need. A versatile and intelligent lineman, he’s an ideal fit for the pivot. At 6-3 and 298 pounds, he’s also a classic drive blocker, using his upper body strength and technique to bully opposing defensive linemen out of the play.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Derrell Smith. One of the best things to come out of the Greg Robinson era, the old staff knew something when it moved Smith to defense from running back. A tremendous all-around athlete, who’s going to play on Sundays, he’s also a fiery leader and the Orange player most likely to inspire his teammates. In an All-Big East second team campaign, he posted a team-best 82 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles in just 10 games of action.

Key player to a successful season: Senior RB Delone Carter. After rushing for 1,021 yards and 11 touchdowns, Carter has nothing to prove to the program on the field. His issues extend outside the Carrier Dome. The team’s best offensive weapon and a great security blanket for young QB Ryan Nassib, he’s currently serving a suspension for a brush with the law and very much up in the air to be eligible in September. With the fifth-year senior available, this becomes a far more balanced and dangerous attack to defend.

The season will be a success if ... the Orange can somehow find a way to its first .500 season since 2004. While not impossible, it will require at least one upset during the season. The good news is that Syracuse could get off to a 3-1 start, with a September schedule that includes dates with Akron, Maine, and Colgate. There are no gimmes from that point, though three of the final four games will take place on the Carrier Dome carpet.

Key game: Nov. 14 vs. Louisville. In the land of baby steps, the ‘Cuse would love to get out of the Big East basement for a change. It tied with the Cardinals at 1-6 last year, but lost the head-to-head meeting, 10-9. Holding serve at home would provide a bump in the standings and a rare conference victory.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Punt return average: Syracuse 6.9 – Opponents 13.2
- Average yards per rush: Syracuse 3.6 – Opponents 3.0
- Third quarter scoring: Syracuse 33 - Opponents 75

- 2010 Syracuse Preview | 2010 Syracuse Offense
- 2010 Syracuse Defense | 2010 Syracuse Depth Chart
- Syracuse Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006