Last Season: (4-8, 1-6)
Doug Marrone’s quest to make Syracuse University football relevant again kicked off with a 4-8 (1-6 Big East) record in his debut as SU’s head coach. With a season under his belt and the ability to recruit more of his own players, ‘Cuse fans are hoping he can lead the team to its first bowl game in five years. It is a lofty goal considering this is a team that ranked 7th in the Big East in scoring (21.2 ppg), rushing yards per game (126), and total yards/game (330) even though Athletic Director Daryl Gross promised an exciting offense when he hired Marrone in December 2008. Still, his 4-8 record matched Greg Robinson’s best season (the immortal GROB went 4-8 in his second year and 1-10 in his first, winning just 10 games in his time on the hill and inspiring the dozens of fans who actually continued to go to games to wear paper bags over their heads), so there is definitely a sense of hope that things are getting better. Let’s be honest, though, that’s not saying much.
- RB Delone Carter, Sr (236 carries, 1021 yds, 11 TD, 85 ypg)
- WR Alec Lemon, So. (295 yds, 1 TD)
- WR Marcus Sales, Jr. (324 yds, 3 TD)
- FS Mike Holmes, Sr. (77 tackles, 7 tackles per game, 3 Interceptions)
- SS Max Suter, Jr. (7.9 tackles per game, 6th in Big East)
- LB Doug Hogue, Sr. (9.5 sacks)
- TB Antwon Bailey (339 rushing yds, 27 receptions)
- P Rob Long (43.76 yds. per punt, 2nd in Big East, 15th in nation)
- NT Art Jones (12 tackles in 2009, 38.5 career tackles for a loss-3rd on SU’s career record list)
- QB Greg Paulus (193-285-Best single-season performance in SU history, 168.7 passing average-4th in league)
- Mike Williams (746 yds, 6 TDs in 7 games with the Orange)
1. How big of an impact will the injuries have on the team?
“Bowl game.” “Big East Championship.” “Exciting offense.” “Shut-it-down defense (oh wait, wrong sport).” These are all goals fans like to hear coaches and players talk about before the season starts. Heck, I think Syracuse fans would even take “win five games” after the last five years of complete futility, so when Marrone says his goal is, “to get players to the Akron game,” fans have to be a little worried. When you look at the number of injuries the Orange has sustained this pre-season, you will understand why Marrone is starting with such a simple goal. Here is the laundry list of players who will be spending the 2010 season in the trainer’s office:
- CB Ri’Shard Anderson (Shoulder injury; out for the season)
- DE Jared Kimmel (Knee; out for the season)
- FB Carl Cutler (ACL; out for the season)
- NT Ollie Haney (Torn muscle in chest; out for the season)
- TE Cody Catalina (Knee; out for season)
- WR Jarrod West (Broken foot; out for the season)
RB Averin Collier will miss the season because of academic issues.
The following players missed practices last week due to injury:
- FS Phillip Thomas (Wisdom tooth extracted)
- LB Ryan Gillum (Abdominal strain)
- K Ryan Lichenstein (Minor injuries)
- RB Jerome Smith (Head injury)
- TE Charlie Copa (Head injury)
- WR Adrian Flemming (Hamstring)
- WR Alec Lemon (Minor injuries)
- WR Van Chew (Minor injuries)
Syracuse is still waiting for the NCAA to clear three freshmen—DE Jason Bromley, DB Keon Lyn, and LB Malcom Cater—to play. They were allowed to practice with the team for the first two weeks of camp, but now must sit while the NCAA checks their high school transcripts to ensure they are eligible to suit up for the Orange this season. Marrone believes this will happen soon.
At least he has a sense of humor about the team’s inability to stay on the field.
“It’s unbelievable it really is,” Marrone said last week. “It’s like everyday. I’ve lived my life well, I have done a lot of good deeds, I hope it starts to pay off.”
Look on the bright side, Marrone, no one has left the team in a while.
2. Is Delone Carter ready to play?
Senior running back Delone Carter is back on campus after a snowball fight gone horribly wrong. Earlier this month, he said was 80% ready to play after working out and lifting weights during his exile from the University. Although DC3 gained 1,021 rushing yards and scored 12 touchdowns, his six-month absence from the team and football has him playing catch up. The Orange will need Carter focused both on and off the field if it hopes to improve its rushing game this season.
3. Can Ryan Nassib command an offense?
After losing the starting spot to Greg Paulus last season, Ryan Nassib has emerged as SU’s clear starting quarter back in camp. Paulus’s well-documented leadership will be difficult to replace, but Nassib may have benefited from playing second-fiddle to the basketball-turned-football player last season. He had a year to learn Marrone’s offense and therefore will not be starting from scratch. Nassib saw time in 10 games and was an impressive 7-16 with 120 yds against West Virginia. Hopefully he also picked up some of Paulus’s intangibles, too.
4. Can SU stop the deep ball?
Teams dug the long ball against the ‘Cuse last season. SU gave up an average of 235 passing yards per game last season (7th in the Big East). If the linebackers are needed to stop the run, the cornerbacks are going to need to step up and stifle the long threat. Marrone likes his veterans in the secondary, which includes cornerbacks Mike Holmes and Demon Markerson and strong safety Max Suter. He believes the loss of Ri’Shard Anderson will be assuaged by the returns of Kevyn Scott and Shamarko Thomas. The bottom line: In order to improve its record, the Orange must do a better job of stopping its opponent’s passing game.
5. Is it basketball season yet?
While I appreciate Marrone’s sense of humor about his injury-riddled squad, depth will be a huge issue for this team.
Check back later in the week. I will be breaking down Syracuse’s first game (it’s a winnable one!) against Akron.
College football blogger Adrian Fedkiw makes his predictions for the entire Big East conference.
About the Author
Written by Beth Ann Clyde
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 and can count the number of times I witnessed the Orange win a football game on two hands.