Syracuse recently released its game notes for Saturday’s Syracuse-Virginia Carrier Dome throwdown. If you're interested in perusing the underwhelming 31-page effort, it can be accessed here.
Game notes are always fun; they're an eclectic combination of things that matter and things that should probably appear on toilet paper in a public restroom. Nothing earth-shattering appears in the publication, but it's important to peruse them as they often offer insight that may have been overlooked by traditional media sources.
Here are my notes on this week's game notes:
To say that nobody in the country performs as poorly as Syracuse does on national television may be the understatement of the century. Between last season’s bookend 51 point drubbings and the world-class stinker the Orange turned in to open the season against West Virginia, there is no reason to believe that Syracuse will suddenly shed its inability to win on national television this weekend.
Not only do Orange fans have the luxury of watching Syracuse turn in a terrifically pitiful performance, they are also blessed with the opportunity of listening to Pam Ward butcher the play-by-play of the game. The level of stinkitude Ward has set is amazing compared to her peers in the announcing business. Brent Musburger has become a shell of his former self, probably because the pace of the game is now too much for the haggard microphone jockey. Musburger, however, at least evokes some of the nostalgia associated with college football, and that is a redeeming quality that can’t be overlooked. Ward, on the other hand, has no redeeming qualities to offset her dry heave-inducing description of the game.
Quite simply, she’s just terrible.
So, for the record, that’s one point for having to sit through a terrible game and another point for having to listen to someone that should have a dart in her forehead describe the travesty taking place before her eyes.
Everything’s coming up Millhouse!
So far this season, Damien Rhodes has accounted for 79% of Syracuse’s offensive scoring by generating 15.0 points per game.
Also, it’s interesting to note that Rhodes’ 22 career rushing touchdowns puts Rhodes 8th in Syracuse history. I never would have thought that having scored 22 career rushing touchdowns would be enough to put a rusher even close to Syracuse's all-time top ten, nevermind near the top five.
This is simply a reaffirmation of the game's development, both offensively and defensively. It's a change of style that has propelled Rhodes toward the top of Syracuse's record books, not his ability alone.
Syracuse is currently ranked 6tth in pass efficiency defense with a 74.32 mark.
While it cannot be overlooked that Syracuse was able to help its own cause with a drubbing of woeful Buffalo, this still indicates that Syracuse’s pass defense (long the bane to Orange Nation’s existence) has potentially turned the corner from utterly mediocre to utterly tolerable.
It’s also impressive to note that a) Syracuse has yet to yield an offensive touchdown this season; and b) Syracuse has yielded only six points when its opponent has reached the red zone.
Syracuse and Virginia are averaging the same number of points per game (19.0), but have vastly different total yardage averages (295 to 357). While this certainly won’t be the reason a team wins or loses, should Virginia continue with its inefficiency – especially if the Cavaliers continue to throw the ball more than they rush it - there could be trouble for the visitors when the ball gets kicked off on Saturday afternoon.
How nondescript has the Orange receiving corps been this season?
Well, Tim Lane receives special recognition in this week’s edition of the game notes for his 44-yard catch against Buffalo last week. What fails to be illustrated is that the 44-yard catch accounted for 71% of Lane’s receiving yards last week (62 yards). This, of course, all happened against the worst defense in college football.
Bruce Williams also receives special attention for hauling in the first reception in his collegiate career.
Hooray! Goodbye redshirt!
While all this spin is great, nothing beats this headline: “Moss Becoming A Key Target.” I had no idea that three receptions for 34 yards was enough to be a primary cog in an offensive machine. That puts Moss’ season output at five receptions for 52 yards and a long of 17. I had no idea that a pass receiver rating of basically a bag of carrots required this much fanfare.
It’s a shame that Paul Pasqualoni decided to stunt the defensive growth of Gregory by moving him to receiver last season. At this point in Gregory’s career, he is fifth on Syracuse’s all-time pass defended list and fourth in pass breakups. This has all been accomplished in just three years as a member of Syracuse’s defensive backfield.
Had Gregory had the opportunity to play corner last season, there’s no telling how far Gregory could have skyrocketed up SU’s all-time lists.
Falke has officially been removed from the Syracuse 2-deep for this week. In his place will be Ryan Ehrie (a 6’6”, 292 redshirt freshman) and Carroll Madison (from what I can tell, not a lady).
This could spell trouble for the Orange this weekend. With Patterson still failing to deliver the ball accurately and the need for Syracuse to run the ball effectively, relying on an immature left tackle could cause some serious problems for a floundering Orange offense.
Like they say, you never notice an offensive lineman until he doesn’t do his job correctly. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of Syracuse’s left side this weekend.
It was just announced today that walk-on kicker John Barker will be handling the placekicking duties for Syracuse this weekend and not Ricky Krautman. The game notes were published before this was announced.
Syracuse has yet to score in the fourth quarter.
Ehrie will become only the second new starter for Syracuse this season. Last week J.J. Bedle became the first by starting in place of FB Stephen McDonald.
Under the heading of “This Week in the Big East,” the game notes conveniently leave out Connecticut’s tilt against Georgia Tech.
Syracuse is last in the Big East in passing efficiency (75.1), pass offense (112.0), total offense (295.00), punt returns (4.5), opponent fourth down conversions (2), third down conversions (5), and kickoff coverage (23.4).