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Report Card: v. Pittsburgh

We can't win at home. We can't win on the road. As general manager, I just can't figure out where else to play.
1992 - Pat Williams

Even though Williams was talking about his 7-27 Orlando Magic, his quote adequately sums up the 2005 Syracuse football season.

Well, that quote and weeping, innocent children. They adequately sum up the 2005 Syracuse football season.

The script, once again, was one wrought with frustration. Despite Pittsburgh’s best efforts at giving Syracuse a victory it did not deserve, the Orange made a conscious decision to ruin a football Saturday and send its supporters into unstructured fits of rage.

The question now isn’t whether Syracuse can lose its final four games. They will, and it’s going to be hilariously disappointing. Rather, the most pressing issue facing Orange football right now is whether I can find enough pictures of sobbing children on the internet to supplement all the football writing I have left to do.

(As I write this, Amani Toomer may now be a candidate to raise my first-born child. (Magic) Eli Manning just connected with the Michigan product on a 2-yard strike with 0:05 remaining in the game to give Big Blue a 24-23 lead.)

Offense
Quarterbacks: F
There isn’t enough room on the internet to write about how bad Stupor Joe and Pudgy Perry have been this season. Each week, these two dolts manage to turn drive efficiency into something along the lines of kryptonite.

I have never in my life seen two quarterbacks who appear to have no idea of what is going on around them. It’s simply amazing how indecisive and terrible they are with the football in their hands. Things have gotten to the point where if Coach Robinson put the rotting corpse of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist behind center, the impact on the offense would be negligible.

Running backs: D+
The Tim Washington Project is officially in full swing. Early returns on the initiative do not look good. A recent poll of interested Orange fans generated the following:

46%: Who’s Tim Washington?
23%: Execution
11%: I Make Turds Taller than his 5’9” Frame
20%: Another Connecticut Kid That Won’t Pan Out

What intangibles does Washington bring to the table that Kareem Jones doesn’t? Washington is, quite simply, a poor man’s Damien Rhodes, and that is the last thing that Syracuse needs right now. Jones, on the other hand, is a power runner that can move a loaded tackle box forward.

When the passing game is totally in the pooper, a team needs to have the ability to run the ball between the tackles effectively to loosen up the defensive front. Washington does not contribute to this necessity. When Rhodes comes out of the game and is spelled by Washington, the defense is not forced to change its pace of play and the smallish Washington is unable to overcome the adverse variables standing before him.

Receivers/Tight Ends: D
Rice Moss was pretty not terrible on Saturday. He may almost not underwhelm on a weekly basis if he keeps up this slightly above marginal play.

To steal a cheap trick from Pat Forde, I’m putting out an APB for Bruce Williams. If anyone has seen the former CBA star and projected Syracuse savior, please contact Offensive Coordinator Brian Pariani. Thank you.

Williams is having a very Year 2000 Johnnie Morant season this year. With his redshirt officially burned, Williams has managed to disappear. He may as well not even bring his helmet on Saturdays, because he gets no looks from Patterson or Fields. The numbers make the comparison all the more salient:

Williams '05 and Morant '00
PlayerReceptionsYardsY/RecTDP/RecPRRt%Total Offense
Morant000000.000.00%
Williams11010.0000.0013.6960.6%

And one more thing: Alex Shor, you suck. Someone needs to check him into a hospital for a case of the dropsies. What a chump.

Offensive Line: F
My observations of the offensive line may be best understood through a haiku:

Kurt Falke is back.
The line still eats hairy nuts.
Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!


Not only has the line become as porous as… as… well, as a very porous thing, it has also decided that taking a ridiculous number of penalties at optimally inopportune times is sound policy.

I am usually not in favor of viciously executing an entire offensive line midseason, but I’m willing to make an exception this year. Get the torches and pitchforks ready, it’s time to organize an old fashioned lynch mob.

Defense
Defensive Line: B-
Generally, a nice little performance put in by the front four. Despite some recurrent overpursuit issues, the line did a nice job putting pressure on the passer.

What was a little disappointing was how the front four handled Pittsburgh’s run blocking. Pitt is not blessed with a particularly splendid offensive line, yet the Panthers managed to run the ball pretty effectively on Syracuse’s athletic front. A lot of that is due to Drame and Santiago/Jenkins/Thorner failing to chew up space in the middle. When these guys learn how to eat up space to allow the linebackers to make plays, the defense will become stouter.

Linebackers: B
Not much to say. An average performance from a pretty average unit.

What is interesting is that Kelvin Smith and Kellen Pruitt have yet to play themselves into first day draft choices. They had the opportunity to do so this preseason, but seem to have maxed out their play.

Secondary: B-
Even though Derek Kinder continued to torch the Syracuse secondary for reception after reception, Steve Gregory continued to give the receiver a 10-yard cushion on every play. That is totally unacceptable. Gregory needs to use his technique to force his opponent to make a great play, rather than putting the receiver in a position where the only way he can fail is by losing his focus.

Tanard Jackson still remains a wild card in the defensive backfield.

Anthony Smith is an absolute stud. He just may be the best safety in the country.

Special Teams
Carney: B+
Par for the course.

By my score sheet, Carney outplayed Graessle by a score of Awesome to Not Awesome.

Punt Return: F
At this point, it’s not even worth sending a guy back to field the ball because nothing good ever results.

It’s a goddamn comedy of errors with this unit.

Other Special Teams Play: A-
Holy blocked punt, Batman. Holy blocked field goal, Batman.

Holy the offense still didn’t capitalize on these opportunities, Batman.

Coaching
Offensive: F
Ugh. Outgained. Again.

Defensive: B
Par for the course.

Although, I was very disappointed to see the defense back away from attack the quarterback as the game progressed. This was probably due to the fact that the defense was gassed and couldn’t blitz anymore

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