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Irish bubble screens were too much for the Orange...

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Notre Dame Quick Predictions

This guy's ready to fight!

Syracuse is in the midst of a crazy long contract to play a number of games at MetLife Stadium. This year it's against #8 Notre Dame. The Irish are off to a strong 3-0 start, and have a lot of weapons in their arsenal.

Irish QB Everett Golson is completing nearly 65% of his pass attempts this season, with 780 yards and seven touchdowns. Of particular note is his success in pass attempts of 15+ yards -- 54.5% completion rate, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Against a traditionally poor Syracuse pass defense, Golson should look to exploit the secondary and air it deep more often than usual. At least, that's what my game plan would be. The one snag to that plan may be that Irish #2 receiver Amir Carlisle is "out with a knee" (because when people say that phrase now, the omitted "injury" at the end is, I guess, understood). But I'm sure ND will make the best of it. Notre Dame is a high octane offensive team, averaging 36.3 points per game through the first three, while its stingy defense is only giving up 10.3 per game.

For Syracuse to have any shot in this one, several things have to happen. First, Syracuse needs to keep up with the Irish -- a deficit like last week's 31-13 halftime shortfall will spell disaster. If the offense can move the ball into the red zone as effectively as last week, but actually get points in the end zone to show for it, then Syracuse has a shot. The Orange will be without dynamic player Ashton Broyld, so other receivers and tight ends will need to step up in the passing game. I'm not too worried about the stable of horses at running back -- they'll do their job, and Prince-Tyson Gulley could go over 100 yards again. On the other side of the ball, Syracuse loves to blitz, so as long as they don't give up too much on coverage, putting pressure on Golson could make the Irish change its game plan. Finally, Syracuse needs consistency in place-kicking. Three games in and we've seen too many missed field goals. Scott Shafer says it's been a battle between Ryan Norton and Cole Murphy all week, and while he's picked a starter, he won't be announcing that to somehow "gain a tactical advantage." I'm not really sure how that works, it's not like it's a hot stock tip or a sneak preview at the lottery numbers, but if Shafer says it, it is.

In my preseason preview I picked Syracuse to win. But I was a naive idiot back then. The Irish will be all over the Orange, 37-17.

This game will be played at the Orange home away from home, MetLife Stadium in beautiful swampy East Rutherford, NJ. Kickoff is at 8:00pm Eastern Daylight Time, and can be seen nationally on ABC or WatchESPN on a variety of internet-based platforms. We hope for a large Orange contingent, especially to make up for the fact that THE SYRACUSE ORANGE WILL BE WEARING PLATINUM JERSEYS. Ugh. I'll be there up in Section 336, so feel free to tweet at me and bring me a beer. Brian will be on Norwegian Sky somewhere in the Bahamas, and unless the ship's on-board sports bar picks up ABC, he won't be watching. One of the many perks of getting married, I guess.

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Oral Arguments at the Court of Appeals

How will the Court of Appeals rule?

It's been a while since I wrote a #lawdog article, and an equally long while since we've talked about the Bobby Davis & Mike Lang lawsuit against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University. The last update was when the Fourth Department of the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's ruling dismissing the defamation suit we're all too familiar with at this point. However, as you may recall, that was not a unanimous decision. The dissent in that case left the door open for New York's highest court -- the Court of Appeals -- to hear the case. And it did just that on September 9, considering oral arguments between Davis/Lang's lawyer and Boeheim's lawyer.

If you don't know how this works, here's a quick primer: the lawyers from each side must submit what are called briefs to the Court. They're not underwear, nor are they short, so I really don't know why they're called briefs. Nevertheless, these briefs lay out the legal arguments supporting the argument(s) that side is putting forth, along with citations to the case record (filings, motions, evidence, testimony, etc. that was submitting in prior proceedings in the case). The appeals judges review the briefs from each side (OK, more likely their law clerks do that) and thus familiarize themselves with the facts of the case, and the legal issues being argued. This is all done in preparation for oral arguments.

Oral arguments is an opportunity for the attorneys to highlight the main points of their arguments to the justices, but more importantly, for the justices to poke and prod at the attorneys. The justices will often times interrupt the attorneys mid-sentence, or even the other justices, to either point out a flaw in an argument or to play devil's advocate. This is really when an attorney's ability to maintain poise and think quickly on his/her feet become vital. A bad performance during oral arguments likely won't torpedo one's case, but let's face it, it doesn't help.

So, on September 9, the attorneys in this case went to Albany and argued their case before the Court of Appeals. Led by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (pictured above), the Court tried determining whether Boeheim's statements were clearly opinion, or mixed fact and opinion. Another point of focus was what a reasonable reader/listener would believe based on all the context.

You can read the transcript of the entire proceeding here. If you would rather listen, you can download a video recording here. I suppose you can listen and follow along in the transcript, too. It's fun how the Chief Judge knows all about Jerry Sandusky, and has no trouble saying his name, but Jim Boeheim is somehow Bonheim.

Sometimes you can get a pretty good idea of which way the Court's leaning simply based on the targets of questioning during oral arguments. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I couldn't get a good read on this Court either way. So, we'll just have to wait until they deliver their decision, which could come within a few weeks or a few months. Just remember, even if the David/Lang camp win this appeal, it doesn't mean they win the defamation suit. It just means that it was improper for the trial judge to dismiss the suit, and instead it would be reinstated and could ultimately go to trial before a jury. So, maybe we haven't heard the last of this case...

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PTG was a workhorse, so, there's that.

This game basically went exactly opposite the way I thought it would. Especially with the way the Syracuse offense played the week before at Central Michigan, and the way Maryland had some issues to start the season, I figured it would either be a blowout or a track meet. Instead, the Maryland offense exploited the Syracuse pass defense, and the Syracuse offense did a great job moving the ball through 80 yards of gridiron without having any luck for the final 20. At the final horn, Syracuse missed its opportunity to begin the season 3-0 for the first time since 1991, instead losing this one to Maryland 34-20.

On the one hand, I had to give a good grade to an offensive unit that put up 589 of total offensive yards. On the other hand, demerits go in for horrible red zone execution. QB Terrel Hunt was 14 of 28 on the day for 219 yards, a sack, and 156 net rushing yards himself along with two rushing TDs. He did a great job of reading coverage, checking down when necessary, or finding open scramble lanes to make something of nothing. Prince-Tyson Gulley rushed 14 times for 138 yards, giving him a 9.9 ypc average. When your offense earns 26 first downs, it's doing something right. But when it can only translate those 26 first downs and 589 yards into a measly 20 points (7 in junk time), that's a problem.

Syracuse limited Maryland to 369 yards of total offense, only 89 of which were on the ground. Considering how Syracuse moved the ball, you'd take that effort. When you further consider Syracuse held Maryland scoreless in the third quarter and only gave up a field goal in the fourth, you give the D some props. Unfortunately, the team was burned by a few big plays in the first half, translating to Maryland touchdowns. While the Terps had some electric receivers (i.e. Diggs, Ross, Leak), much of their success is attributable to Syracuse defenders not being in proper position or not catching up to the receivers. I mean, Syracuse got burned on a screen in Maryland's second possession for a 90-yard touchdown -- the same Maryland team who complained it might not be able to defend Syracuse's bubble screens. Orange pass defense has been soft for years, so why should I be expecting anything different now?

Special Teams
Syracuse kickers (yeah, kickers) were 2-3 on field goal attempts. Riley Dixon punted five times for 210 yards. Brisly Estime handled punt returns for 47 yards, while exciting freshman Erv Philips took the kickoffs for 117 yards. In all, a pedestrian day for the special teams unit. Nothing special.

That may be a harsh grade, but let's face it, Randy Edsall was the better coach out there. He had the better disciplined team, the better prepared team, and the team that executed better. Scott Shafer, meanwhile, had a rather vanilla game plan. Now, I like vanilla, but not for football. My biggest gripe was the conservative play calling in the second half, where offensive coordinator George McDonald seemed to almost throw in the towel. When your team's down 31-13, that might be a good time to make some big plays to try to get back in the game. McDonald didn't think so. I knew after the first or second drive of the second half that Syracuse wouldn't be winning this game. They were in too deep of a hole and stuck in a quagmire of a game plan that wouldn't be able to get them out of it.

C (1.93)
Honestly, a better effort in the red zone, along with not giving up a couple monster plays on defense, and Syracuse is in this one all the way. Maybe that's just the way things go, it happened to be one of those days, and we still could see great things from this Orange squad. I'd like to think so, but I'm an optimist. What I do know is that it doesn't get easier from here. We're about to hit the gauntlet of the schedule, and we'll have to watch it unfold without Ashton Broyld in the mix. He suffered the dreaded "lower body injury" against Maryland with 13 seconds left in the first quarter, missed the rest of the game, and will be out the next several games. As Ashton was one of the team's more dynamic receivers and playmakers, this will put more pressure on the committee full of rushers as well as Hunt to get this offense down the field.

Syracuse next travels to its "second home," MetLife Stadium, for a Saturday primetime game against Notre Dame. National TV, the A broadcast team, the bright lights of the outer suburbs of New York City, a top-ten opponent... this has all the makings of a great upset, or, a colossal drubbing. What will it be? We'll find out, right after this.


Cue the Crying Child...

Looks like Randy got the best of Syracuse again.


Maryland Quick Predictions

Can Scott beat Randy again?
Syracuse went down to Maryland last season in an ACC Conference game and basically embarrassed them 20-3. Now Maryland makes a trip to the Dome but this time they are in their new conference, the Big Ten. A little more than conference pride is on the line this time.
Syracuse looked excellent against MAC foe Central Michigan last week. A stark contract from how they looked against Villanova, who probably should have won the game. But in NCAA Football, you take any wins you can get. Either way, Syracuse looked a lot sharper after a bye week and a game that had starting quarterback Terrel Hunt in for all 60 minutes. Maryland comes in the Dome looking to be a spoiler for Syracuse's so far perfect season, as well as rebound from an big loss to West Virginia in which they gave up 694 offensive yards to the Mountaineers. The Terps are a decent team who have a pretty good QB in CJ Brown. He's a mobile QB like Hunt is and like Villanova possessed, when their leading rusher was the QB in the opening weekend. That could prove fits for Syracuse's defense again, who will also have to probably key in on excellent rusher Wes Brown, who missed last week as a coaches' decision. The Syracuse secondary provided plenty of bulletin board material for QB Brown, who possibly could shred Syracuse for a ton of yards in the air. Both of these teams look pretty even, except Syracuse rushes by committee. Syracuse's tailbacks have had two different 100 yard rushers the past two games, and it's possible that happens in this one. With four legitimate rushers for Syracuse, anything is possible as there are power backs and speed/finesse backs that provide a nice change of speed. Really, this game will come down to turnovers and rushing. Syracuse will probably control the time of possession (who cares, it's really a meaningless stat), but what should give Maryland fits is the different running looks, combined with the fact that Hunt can run himself. More importantly, West Virginia succeeded by running an up tempo, no huddle offense. Hmmm..... I think Syracuse does that as well. Interesting. Syracuse should also dominate in number of offensive plays run in the game, which is a better stat to lead on, and more indicative of success on offense than time of possession. Whoever limits turnovers is always at an advantage. Maryland had 6 turnovers against USF and 1 against West Virginia. Syracuse has had zero so far this year. Syracuse is also one of four teams in the NCAA that hasn't allowed a sack. They probably will in this game, but not many. Syracuse will look to pound the ball, and I think that Syracuse's offense will do a little better than Maryland's. This game will be pretty close, but I like Syracuse in the Dome. Sorry Randy. The Orange over Maryland 27 to 17.
This game is at 12:30pm eastern on the ACC Network with regional coverage being provided. You can check if your local station is covering the game here. For everyone else, you can watch the game on WatchESPN. Blackout map applies. You can also watch the game on the ACC Website (and the official ACC phone app, FYI) by clicking here. John will be in the Dome. I'll be working some football games myself so I won't be watching the game with you. But be sure to have a few cold ones for us. Go Orange!

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Cue the Smiling Child... (Plus Report Card)

Couldn't have asked for more after that Week 1 game.

In a programming note, since the Orange::44 staff was a little busy this past weekend, there will not be a recap of the Central Michigan game. However, I've posted grades below so the report card stays complete.
Special Teams
A- (3.58)
We'll be back to our regular posting schedule this weekend. Thanks for all the messages!

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Central Michigan Quick Predictions

How about a little MACtion!
Syracuse is fresh off a bye week. And from the looks of the team in Week 1 it didn't come soon enough. Hopefully Syracuse will take the field and look much sharper than they did against FCS Villanova in their opener. And keep their starting QB in the game for the full 60 minutes.
The Central Michigan Chippewas have the privilege of taking on your Syracuse Orange this week. What looked like a pretty automatic win a few weeks ago looks like a game that could almost go either way. They won a four point victory in week 1 against FCS Chattanooga, but had a pretty large victory against Purdue in Week 2 38-17. This is a good team. Not a great team, but definitely a good team. Their best player is wide receiver Titus Davis. That plays right into the weakness of Syracuse. The Secondary is something that doesn't just bend, it definitely breaks. I don't even know why teams run the ball in the second half. They should just keep throwing it because chances are it will be complete. The Syracuse secondary is holier than the Pope. Syracuse will definitely keep the CMU running game in check though. Actually, these teams look pretty similar, mostly relying on their running game and better than average offensive lines to carry the day. Syracuse has the advantage on offense with Terrel Hunt, who is more mobile, and will certainly make big plays with his feet. Again, I think a big part of this game will come down to who turns over the ball the least. Syracuse didn't have any turnovers in their first game, but Central Michigan definitely creates them. If Syracuse can't hold onto the ball, it will make a long day even longer as Central Michigan takes their time, and a lot of clock, in moving methodically down the field. Either way, I think Hunt is the difference, fresh off a nice sit in the first game, and a bye week to think about things and get better as a leader and an offense. Syracuse will manage to bend and not break on defense this time, and the offense should look a little more dynamic having the starter back behind center for the entire game, as well as having that extra week to prepare for CMU. I like Syracuse in this one 24 to 17.
This game is available nationwide on ESPNews at 12:00pm eastern, as well as the Watch ESPN App. Both John and I will be attending my wedding, so you're on your own watching this one. I'm sure you'll be fine. As always, GO ORANGE!

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