Countdown to Football Frustration

Next Frustrating Hoops Victory

Next Lacrosse Annihilation

Odds 'n Ends



For the record, Pittsburgh is just terrible.

I can understand losing to Rutgers. It happens. Especially to Syracuse in teriffically frustrating ways. However, to be down to the Scarlet Blight 17-0 at the end of the first quarter and showing no life whatsoever is totally unacceptable.

Is to too early to reserve www.firedavewannstedt.com?

Anyways, on to some Syracuse goodies.

Syracuse Inks Their 47th and 48th Off-Guards for the 2006 and 2007 Seasons
Well, it might not be that many, but it sure seems like it.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports that Scoop Jardine and Mike Jones have committed to Coach Boehiem to wear Orange in the next few seasons. Apparently these guys are Top 50 caliber, whatever that means. As long as they can make buckets and not lose to Vermont, it doesn't matter to me where old men with no basketball ability think these recruits line up compared to their classmates.

As long as they don't end up like Billy Edelin, I don't particularly give a damn. What a loser.

Joe Kowalewski Out for Florida State
Great.

Perry Patterson must be crying himself to sleep now that he can't run the play-action to the Warners native.

In other injury news, it appears as if Kurt Falke also won't be playing against the 'Noles on Saturday. With that, Patterson will be looking like a $10 whore tomorrow considering all the time he'll be spending on his back.

Game Notes
Check it out, homeboy.

In other game-related news, HeismanPundit thinks that Perry Patterson is poised for a coming out game. You can always count on the Heisman Pundit to say something that will make you wonder if he's been sniffing too much glue.

Also, here's the coverage map for the 3:30 ABC games on Saturday.

Orange in the Apple, eh? I think not.

Big East Football: Week Five

I've seen a lot of weekends where the Big East didn't have favorable matchups, but this weekend just might take the cake.

With conference clubs hooking up with three of the nation's top 15 clubs, things are bound to get terrifically ugly. Had Louisville and Connecticut not put patsies on the schedule this weekend, there is a very good possibility that the Big East would have a winless out of conference record this weekend.

With regard to conference games, Pitt is hooking up with Rutgers. At the beginning of this season, this game would have spurred mild interest. With Pittsburgh officially sucking balls, this game has major implications on who might be in position to steal a low bowl bid.

Yikes.

Anyways, onto the fun.

Big East Football: Week Five
DateOpponentLocationTVTime
9.30.05Pittsburgh v. RutgersPiscataway, NJESPN28:00 PM
10.1.05Florida Atlantic v. LouisvilleLouisville, KYERT12:00 PM
Connecticut v. ArmyWest Point, NYESPNU12:00 PM
Virginia Tech v. West VirginiaMorgantown, WVESPN12:00 PM
Syracuse v. Florida StateTallahassee, FLABC3:30 PM
South Florida v. MiamiMiami, FLESPNU, WFTS8:00 PM



Reasonable Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 1): 2-3
Optimistic Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 1): 3-2
Pessimistic Out of Conference BE Record (Week 1): 1-4

The marquee matchup this week is West Virginia and Virginia Tech hooking up in something I like to call the Skoal Bowl.

There's nothing quite like a tilt that pits two fan bases against each other that are convinced that the other side is devoid of basic human intelligence and hygeine responsibilities. It's just terrific.

Plus, if West Virginia wins, Morgantown will burn.

Hooray!

BlogPoll Roundtable #8

BlogPoll Roundtable, the brainchild of BlogPoll superhero Brian over at mgoblog, is an effort to generate discourse on a series of questions and issues currently applicable to the college football universe.

This edition of the BlogPoll Roundtable is hosted by ParadigmBlog. To read responses of other bloggers to the roundtable questions, simply click here.

1. We are now 1/3 of the way through the season and things are starting to shake out. With that in mind, who are your picks to win each of the BCS conferences, as well as your choice for an at-large berth from a non-BCS league (none is an option)?


BlogPoll: Week Five
Conference2005 Champion
Atlantic CoastVirginia Tech
Big EastLouisville
Big TenOhio State
Big TwelveTexas
Pacific 10Southern California
SoutheasternFlorida


While Notre Dame has a very favorable BCS deal in place that basically guarantees them a spot in a BCS bowl should it win nine games, I don't think the Irish will qualify as getting to the magic number may be a stretch (remember, the Irish still have USC, Tennessee, and Purdue left on the schedule).

Thus, considering the dearth of talented non-BCS teams currently on the college football landscape, it is unlikely that there will be a non-BCS at-large participant this season.

2. What team currently out of the Top 10 (AP or Coach's, doesn't really matter), has the best chance of ending up in the title game?
To get to the title game, a couple things are necessary:

- You need to play, and win, as many games as possible.
- You need to have a schedule conducive to inflating a BCS rating as the season progresses.
- You need to have "injustice" on your side so that sympathetic writers beat your drum for you.

With this in mind, I think that Minnesota just may be a team that could find itself in the title game should the cards fall in their favor. They have a lot of ground to makeup, but with games left against Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan, there is a great potential to put themselves in a position to play for a title.

Will Minnesota actually win all of these games? Unlikely, but they have the best chance to play in the title game should they actually take apart their remaining schedule.

3. When you're watching a game, what type of fan can you absolutely not tolerate being around?
The eternal optimist.

These people just don't get it. Everything is peaches and cream in their pseudo-reality. It really is enough to make a realist such as myself vomit. The spin these people go through almost make me want to try out some murder/suicide, just to impart a dose of reality.

Here are examples of stuff I hate that almost always comes out of the eternal optimist's mouth:

"This team is struggling."
Translation to Reality: This team sucks. Too many fat kids.

"This recruiting class should be solid - lots of late bloomers and under-the-radar guys."
TtR: This recruiting class sucks. Too many fat kids. Rejects, if you will.

"The team showed a lot of moxy and fight today."
TtR: This team sucks. Too many fat kids.

"It's OK, the team only needs XYZ and they're right back in this game."
TtR: Game's over. And the worst part is that the beer stand is closed.

"You gotta trust the coach; they wouldn't have hired him if they didn't believe he could do the job."
TtR: May you never procreate and soil the Earth with the spawns that will be your progeny.

BlogPoll: Week Five



As the date line on this essay clearly indicates, it has been a solid week since my last publication.

You're Welcome.

I have been absolutely swamped the past week with the oppressive daily grind that is law school sprinkled with the added joy of trying to complete a moot court brief. As such, writing essays about Syracuse's incredible roster of injured footballers has taken a necessary backseat.

I hope to have my house in order by this weekend so as to watch the heroic beating the Orange will take at the hands of the Seminoles. If not, I'm officially on hiatus until October 4th.

[Games I Took In This Week]
East Carolina v. West Virginia
Iowa v. Ohio State
Notre Dame v. Washington
Florida v. Kentucky

[Ballot]
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four

BlogPoll Central

BlogPoll: Week Five
RankTeamRecordPreviousValue
1.Southern California3-01
2.Texas3-02
3.Virginia Tech4-03
4.Florida4-06
5.Ohio State3-17
6.Tennessee2-110
7.Georgia4-08
8.Louisiana State1-15
9.Notre Dame3-111
10.Miami (FL)2-112
11.Texas Tech3-013
12.Arizona State3-114
13.Florida State3-015
14.Texas A&M2-116
15.Michigan State4-020
16.Minnesota4-0NR
17.Alabama 4-022
18.UCLA3-023
19.California4-0NR
20.Wisconsin4-0NR
21.Louisville2-14
22.Boston College3-1NR
23.West Virginia4-024
24.Fresno State1-125
25.Michigan2-2

17


Commentary to follow shortly. Or not at all. One of the two.

Paging Abraham Zapruder

“The trouble with referees is that they just don't care which side wins.”
- Tom Canterbury

It may not be on the level of Dick Nixon attempting to shroud the executive office in a cloud of mystery, but "HuddleGate" appears poised to capture the imagination of the Orange faithful until Florida State becomes the center of attention beginning next week.

The threshold question plaguing Syracuse fans this week is whether Virginia, just before converting a fourth and short play with a little over a minute remaining on the game clock, broke the huddle with 12 men. If that question can be answered in the affirmative, a slew of questions must (and many already have) follow.

In answering whether Virginia broke the huddle with 12 men, the answer is a resounding "yes." The NCAA rule is very simple:

Section 5: Substitutions

Legal Substitutions
Article 2: A legal substitute may replace a player or fill a player vacancy provided none of the following restrictions is violated:

(c). An incoming legal substitute must enter the field of play directly from his team area, and a substitute, player or replaced player leaving must depart at the sideline nearest his team area and proceed to his team area. A player who is replaced must immediately leave the field of play, including the end zones. A departing player who leaves the huddle or his position within three seconds, after a substitute becomes a player, is considered to have left immediately. Team A may not break its huddle with 12 or more players.

Given the conclusive video evidence, referee Jack Childress clearly blew the call on two levels - there were 12 men in the huddle (which is almost exclusively enforced as an "intent to deceive") and Childress failed to properly enforce the three-second "safe harbor."

With the threshold questions soundly answered in the affirmative, Watergate-like questions must follow:

Does this matter?
Who knew what when?
What are the repercussions, if any?
Is there a line of history here that should be examined?
Where does ultimate blame lie?

Clearly, the ineptness of Jack Childress and his crew on Saturday was not a material factor in Syracuse's loss. Players and coaches ultimately determine the outcome of a game, not an officiating crew. However, what is disconcerting (and it is great that Donnie Webb has begun to carry this torch) is that the ACC: a) does not appear concerned with the performance of this officiating crew; and b) appears to be caught in a web of their own inaccuracies.

From a submission by Donnie Webb on the Post-Standard Football Blog:

Fired off a question Sunday to the ACC seeking comment from their director of football officials about the controversial non-call by the ACC officiating crew, you know, the protested illegal substitution by Virginia in the final 90 seconds of its 27-24 win over Syracuse on Saturday. The response?

"We generally do not comment on officiating matters (in football)," said ACC spokesman Brian Morrison.

I wrote back:

"The non-call came at a critical point of the game. I think you can understand that our community would like some acknowledgement if the ACC crew blew the call."

Said Morrison, "You will be the first to know, but maybe they didn’t blow the call."

There are three problems with Morrison's comments: a) the crew clearly blew the call; b) a conference should be accountable for their officiating crews, especially in inter-conference matchups; and c) the ACC has a history of commenting on officiating matters.

I do not know for certain what video capabilities the ACC currently has at their disposal, but I'm willing to bet that they have at least the same TiVo technology that the average Syracuse fan has. The ACC had plenty of opportunities to review the non-call between the conference call and the conclusion of Saturday's contest. To say that the crew didn't blow the call smacks of indifference or a pure refusal to acknowledge what their own eyes have seen.

As for accountability and commenting on officiating matters, Brian Morrison appears to be attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the Syracuse community. As Donnie Webb illustrates in another terrific Syracuse Post-Standard Football Blog entry, the ACC has both eschewed their accountability responsibilities in the past and has commented on the conference's officials:

It seems ACC referee Jack Childress, who stood and watched the incident without
flagging the Cavaliers, has been in hot water before.

Scott Barker passed along this little infamous incident involving Childress:
Check here: Florida-Florida State.

Childress and his crew were also involved in a controversial fumble call in the Auburn-Wisconsin Music City Bowl. Writes Matt Hayes of The Sporting News:
"The ACC office privately believed that Florida's complaining about the officiating after its loss last month to Florida State were evidence of a team looking for an excuse. But now that ACC referee Jack Childress and back judge Doug Foley were involved in a key missed fumble call in the Auburn-Wisconsin Music City Bowl, Commissioner John Swofford must evaluate those officials more carefully. Look for Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to ask Swofford to review the game tape."

And from The (Madison, Wisc.) Capital Times:
"After last season's Music City Bowl, both coaches - Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville - were upset with the ACC officiating crew, which was headed by referee Jack Childress. Television replays confirmed a number of blown calls, including one which overturned a fumble by Auburn running back Carnell Williams inside the UW 5-yard line. The Tigers scored two plays later to take a 14-6 lead."

Scott Barker writes: It is interesting that ACC commissioner John Swofford commented in that case, so their statement that they don't comment on
officiating matters isn't accurate.

This raises two important issues: a) why is the ACC adamantly choosing not to comment on the terrible performance Childress and his crew turned in on Saturday when they have in the past; and b) why is the ACC still permitting Childress and his crew to butcher their responsibilities on the football field.

There need to be repercussions and accountability coming out of this incident, and when the above to issues are resolved, the latter two goals can be achieved.

This state of affairs can no longer persist. It is unacceptable.

BlogPoll: Week Four

Another week has come and gone in the college football universe and things, at least at the moment, seem to be sorting themselves out a little bit.

What We Know For Certain:

- USC is stupid good;
- Pittsburgh had no business being anywhere near the masses of the ranked at the beginning of the season;
- Buffalo could probably get smacked by Niagra High;
- Michigan State is a fun, fun team to watch and just may be the nation's best story come the end of the season;
- Texas will beat Oklahoma this season.

What We Don't Know For Certain:
- Where to rank teams 8-25.

Let the madness continue!

[Games I Took In This Week]
Virginia v. Syracuse
Miami v. Clemson
Notre Dame v. Michigan State
Alabama v. South Carolina
Tennessee v. Florida

[Ballot]

Week One
Week Two
Week Three

BlogPoll Central

BlogPoll: Week Four
RankTeamRecordPreviousValue
1.Southern California2-01
2.Texas3-02
3.Virginia Tech3-03
4.Lousiville2-05
5.Lousiana State1-06
6.Florida3-08
7.Ohio State2-19
8.Georgia3-010
9.Purdue2-011
10.Tennessee1-14
11.Notre Dame2-17
12.Miami (FL)1-113
13.Texas Tech2-017
14.Arizona State2-114
15.Florida State3-012
16.Texas A&M1-116
17.Michigan 2-118
18.Iowa2-119
19.Georgia Tech3-020
20.Michigan State3-0NR
21.Colorado2-021
22.Alabama3-024
23.UCLA3-0NR
24.West Virginia3-0NR
25.Fresno State1-1

15



Commentary to follow shortly.

Report Card: v. Virginia



Ideally, it would be nice if Syracuse could win some of these white-knuckle games.

Given the construct of this Syracuse team and the youth of the coaching staff, seeing progress on a week to week basis may be all that should be asked for by the Orange faithful this season.

Hopefully basketball season will be a little less frustrating.

Report Card: v. Virginia
Offense
Quaterbacks: B
At times during Saturday’s contest it appeared as if two different quarterbacks were draped in a blue number 10 uniform.

During a handful of drives, there was classic Perry Patterson – the deficient decision maker hell bent on tossing incompletions and ruining the field position the Orange defense graciously granted its offensive counterpart. For the other set of offensive possessions, there was freaky efficient Perry Patterson – swinging the ball out smartly to Damien Rhodes and staying poised as he rolled out of the pocket to deliver the ball with a deft touch.

The question is whether Patterson will transform himself into a passer more reminiscent of the latter incarnation. If he does, Coach Pariani would probably be more willing to open up the playbook a little more.

Running Backs: B
Damien Rhodes, like Perry Patterson, was schizophrenic against the Cavaliers. In the opening stanza, Rhodes looked unstoppable. In the second and third sets, Rhodes looked very average and nothing like the back that ran around and through Buffalo’s defense the week before. As the final quarter came to a close, the promise of Rhodes being the primary cog in the Syracuse offensive machine appeared to be more of a reality.

The bottom line is that Rhodes needs to find some consistency not only from a game-to-game perspective, but from a snap-to-snap one as well. Rhodes has all the tools to be terrific, it’s just a matter of Rhodes choosing to achieve his substantial potential.

Receivers/Tight Ends: B
This grade is greatly lifted by the play of Joe Kowalewski and Alex Shor. Had these tight ends not had the day they did, this grade probably would have been closer to a C-.

Moss and Lane have yet to show that they can get open on the Division 1-A level. This is putting an undue burden on Perry Patterson to deliver the ball and the offensive line to give Patterson the time to do so. Despite the growth of much of Syracuse’s offensive unit since Labor Day, the receiving corps continues to lag behind the learning curve to a substantial degree.

Totally unacceptable.

Offensive Line: C-
Terrible. Simply terrible.

The loss of Kurt Falke should not have had this much of an impact on the Orange front five. Unable to pick up the blitz and provide reasonable pass blocking, the offensive line was downright terrible.

It has become commonplace to see defensive players charging unabated at Patterson or Rhodes in the backfield. The offensive line needs to remedy this situation and learn to go out there and smack someone around.

Defense
Defensive Line: B
Someday someone will teach Ryan LaCasse and James Wyche the concept of containment. Until that day comes, Syracuse will be unable to stop dual threat quarterbacks and spread-style offenses.

As Dave Pearson so aptly notes, “was Josh Thomas out there?”

Outside of the problems with containment, Drame and LaCasse turned in notable individual performances. It seemed like LaCasse had a Tedy Bruschi-like game with his number appearing in every shot of a defensive play being made. Drame did a nice job of eating up space in the middle and deflecting yet another pass attempt.

Linebackers: C+
I could probably count on my left hand the number of times Kellen Pruitt or Kelvin Smith was mentioned on the broadcast Saturday. When the linebackers on this team aren’t making plays, that means that either a) the defensive line is doing an awesome job (which they weren’t); or b) the secondary was being called upon to make too many stops (which they were).

This was supposed to be the strength of Syracuse’s revamped defense this season. I have yet to see these guys start drilling people in the aggressive nature Coach Robinson promised.

With Florida State’s running game looming only two weeks in the future, the linebacking corps will have no choice but to assume their role as the defensive unit’s finest feature. If they don’t, things could become even more painful to watch.

Secondary: B
Not bad. Not bad at all.

Anthony Smith, Steve Gregory, and Tanard Jackson were outstanding. Dowayne Davis chipping in an interception was a pleasant surprise.

If the secondary can make this kind of dramatic growth over just one summer, there’s no reason for the receiving corps to be so maddeningly inept.

Special Teams
Placekicking: A
John Barker just might be this team’s savior if he can continue to knock down his field goal attempts. Kickers may not routinely win games, but they certainly can take a team out of contention.

Carney: C
Well, it’d be a B for anyone else on the planet, but when you’re looking for a seat at the Yale Club in December, Saturday’s performance just isn’t going to cut the mustard.

Coaching
Offensive: C+
When George DeLeone left the hill over six months ago, so to did the expectations of watching Damien Rhodes run inside traps on first, second, and third down.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Coach Pariani appears to be hopelessly dedicated to dumbing down the playbook in order to slowly teach the offense his offensive philosophy. While lined with good intentions, such a methodology is dooming the offense’s chances to outsmart and outplay its opponent. Half the snaps that Patterson takes seem to be anticipated and subsequently stymied by the opponent’s defense.

There’s no way success can residually result from such an approach.

Defensive: B-
Everyone on the planet knew that Marques Hagans was a serious threat to run all over the field. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if the Orange coaching staff took enough time to drill the concept of containment into the defense’s head during this past week of practices.

If Hagans had just played remarkably, it’d be tough to slam the defensive coaching unit. However, Hagans did not play above and beyond what he was capable of. He could have, and probably should have, been stopped. Hagans’ success was directly attributable to poor tackling and technique. There’s no excuse for this and the blame for it must ultimately lie with those responsible for preparing the team to combat such an approach.

Live Bloggin'

Since I actually have an internet connection for the game today, I figure it might be interesting to live blog this bad boy. I'm not exactly sure what format this record of present sense impressions will take, but I'm pretty sure it will become the basis for a sociological study on depression, pessimism, and grammatical errors.

11:26 AM
I really dislike Boston College, and I'm not exactly sure why.

It's not because of the university's defection from the Big East because I was an ardent supporter of Syracuse making the same move. It's not because Boston College has gotten a GameDay appearance before Syracuse has because, frankly, I don't give a damn if Fowler & Co. come "to my city."

It's probably because the BC student body has created some of the worst spirit signs I've ever seen in my life.

"We Have Jesus"
"F S Who?"

And these are some of the better ones.

The Holy Father Above needs to smote these jamokes.

11:33 AM
From Donnie Webb on the Syracuse Post-Standard Weblog:

Syracuse University freshman wide receiver Lavar Lobdell of CBA did not dress out for today's game. He's on the sidelines wearing a game jersey and blue sweat pants. School officials in the press box are investigating and an update will be posted when news becomes available.

Great.

11:54 AM
Looks as if Corso and Herbstreit are both going with the Cavs today.

The clan of CBS selectors (Darst, Dodd, Harmon, and Mejia) are also throwing their confidence behind a banged up Virginia squad.

Not so fast my friends....

12:00 PM
Blue jerseys with white pants?

Egad!

However, it looks a lot better than all the aluminum colored shirts the Orange faithful are pimping today.

12:06 PM
I would like to smack Pam Ward with a large, heavy object. She is already butchering this game.
Great defensive series by the Orange to start the game. Gregory with a nice stop on the opening play of the game and LaCasse and Wyche managed to not overpursue the quarterback for the first time in their careers.

12:14 PM
Orange: 7
Cavs: 0

That may have been the slowest quaterback draw in the history of football. It's as if Patterson heard the dinner bell being rung by the band and came a runnin'.

Break out the oxygen mask.

It's amazing what a little balance can do for an offense. It's just a shame that Pariani went away from the passing almost totally after Rhodes broke off the big carry to bring Syracuse into the Red Zone. With big targets like Kowalewski, Moss, and Lane on the field, throw the ball to the pilon and give Damien a blow.

Otherwise, a very uplifting drive turned in by the offense.

12:16 PM
That's Drame's 3rd pass deflection this season.

Holy macaroni.

12:20 PM
Tanard Jackson was just referred to as both Steve Gregory and Dowayne Davis by Ward and Norrie.

Someone needs to nuke the pressbox. Now.

12:21 PM
Overpursuit.

Again.

Dumbass lineman.

12:24 PM
Tanard Jackson is majoring in Rhetorical Studies?

What the hell is that?

12:25 PM
The streak is over - Syracuse has finally yielded an offensive touchdown against.

Other than Hagans' 30+ yards scamper, the defense still looked pretty impressive. The corners are playing very well. Wyche and LaCasse have had no trouble getting into the backfield, they simply need to adjust their rush to account for Hagans' escapability to the passer's left side.

This drive will be huge for Syracuse's confidence. Should the Orange turn in a 30+ yard drive and flip field position, good things should happen.

12:31 PM
Syracuse is now 1 for the Season on screen passes.

Terrible spot. Just terrible.

It's one thing to take yourself out of a drive. It's another when the referees do the dirty work for you.

In other news, I want to have Brendan Carney's child. Another 49-yarder for the Pennsylvanian.

12:35 PM
If Virginia isn't shooting themselves in the foot, they're hitting the floor all around it.

12:36 PM
Who's worse, the officiating crew or the announcing duo?

It's a race for the bottom.

Syracuse should take a penalty here to give Carney some more room to punt.

12:43 PM
Note to Robinson:

Put somebody on number 81 (Williams). This guy is going nutty today.

Virginia has done a nice job with their 3rd downs today. Two big time conversions so far. Syracuse needs to get back to its attacking style on 3rd to force Virginia to make a play.

12:50 PM
Virginia has looked very impressive on this drive. They have kept Syracuse off balance and is imposing its will on a confused Orange defense. Hagans has sliced up Syracuse's lag zone for some big plays on this drive and has managed to avoid the perilous pass rush of LaCasse and Wyche.

If Virginia continues to play like this and Syracuse continues to rush 4 and play the back 7 in a soft zone, things are going to get ugly.

12:51 PM
Zone blitz works perfectly!

LaCasse with his first interception of his career. Is there anything he can't do?

1:00 PM
Good thing Gregory was playing offense last year instead of helping out one of the worst defenses in the country.

With Gregory's speed, techinque, and soft hands, there's no question that he should be considered among the elite corners in the country. He may go down in Syracuse history as one of the most undervalued players in the university's history.

1:06 PM
Virginia: 14
Syracuse: 7

Syracuse looks to be too concerned with what Hagans is going to do with the football rather than concerning themselves with the horrid pass defense they're playing as a result.

1:21 PM
This game is playing out almost exactly like the West Virginia game. And that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Three turnovers forced by the Syracuse defense so far today. Just terrific.

The offense needs to get points out of this field position. The defense can't continue to play like this all day without the offense contributing.

1:26 PM
Perry Patterson does not look like he knows what is going on out on the field. He has been very indecisive with the football in his hands and when he does release the pigskin, the path of the ball is almost always destined for the turf.

Patterson may be responsible for Syracuse's seven points today, but he's easily cost the Orange at least 6 with his poor passing and pocket presence.

1:39 PM
Text message I just received:
It's alumni day for the team today. Troy Nunes is here. No
talent ass clown
.

Get Nunes out of the damn building. Nothing good can come of Troy Nunes being anywhere near a football field.

1:51 PM
Sean K. Palmer has summed up the first half perfectly: "When you play with fire..."

Syracuse has leaned heavily on it's defense this first half. Unless Robinson is expecting some points to come from the defensive backfield, this is a recipe for disaster.

For the second half, Syracuse needs to accomplish the following: Patterson needs to act less fat in the pocket, the offensive line needs to block somebody, Pariani needs to mix in some more play action, Pariani also needs to dive into the depths of his playbook for some different running plays to mess with Virginia's head.

Syracuse is far from out of it, but if they continue to squander opportunities, they will get burned.

1:57 PM
I've seen a lot of sad stat lines, but the ouput Syracuse is generating today is rapidly rising up the all-time list of stinkers.

At the half:
34 yards rushing.
35 yards pasing.

On the bright side, that's good balance.

2:04 PM
The Syracuse defense has begun to disintergrate.

It's not surprising, considering how much the offense has been relying on them and the number of snaps they've had to defend today. When you have expectations, fatigue, and a pretty dynamic offense, there's no doubt that tackling will begin to falter.

Syracuse really needs to hold Virginia to a field goal attempt on this drive. If UVA punches it in for six, it's all over.

2:12 PM
The sixth drive of the day may be Syracuse's defining moment.

With the ball on Virginia's 34, Syracuse goes -8 in yards and is forced to punt.

Love that West Coast offense.

2:14 PM
Syracuse: 14
Cavs: 17

Joe Kowalewski eschews catching the ball with his hands and still manages to haul in a touchdown pass from a now mobile Perry Patterson.

Coach Pariani went with a heavy dose of play action that drive and it worked out great. Throw in a smattering of moving Patterson outside of the pocket and the Orange actually looked like they had a plan for success that time down the field.

2:20 PM
Cavs: 24
'Cuse: 14

The defense is absolutely cooked. There's nothing more they can do to keep the Orange in this game. What should have been swallowed up at the line of scrimmage ended up being a backbreaking 70 run for the Cavs.

With only 21 minutes remaining in the game, there isn't enough time left for Syracuse to come back, especially if the team continues to play this way.

2:35 PM
How many times do people have to go over the fact that the Carrier Dome doesn't have any air conditioning.

Carrier is just the named sponsor, nothing more. And this isn't unique to Syracuse, it's a national phenomenon. Can you get orange juice at Tropicana Field?

Doubt it.

By pointing out the fact that the Dome doesn't have air conditioning doesn't make your observations witty or insightful. It just means that you should be slapped.

2:40 PM
Cavs: 24
Cuse: 21

Perry Patterson caps off an 80-yard drive (yes, I wrote that correctly) with a ten yard scamper that really showed off Patterson's fat ass. Exploiting Syracuse's tight ends and the versatility of Damien Rhodes, Syracuse actually had a bona fide drive that makes your chest swell up with pride.

Now, if Syracuse can get a stop....

2:46 PM
If Ryan LaCasse doesn't get drafted this coming April, that'll be a travesty.

LaCasse just tracked down Marques Hagans and drilled him into the turf. It's a typical play for LaCasse, but he always seems to make them at the right time.

2:51 PM
Is Patterson really turning the corner or is Virginia's defense really this inept.

Also, after all the smack I slapped down on Joe Kowalewski before the season began, I am officially eating some crow.

8 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Can't ask for much more.

2:56 PM
Cavs: 24
Cuse: 24

John "Gimmie a Damn Scholarship" Barker knocks through the field goal try to knot up the game at 24. Syracuse offense has looked very dynamic the last two drives and Virginia has done a terrible job at stopping the Orange play action. Should this state of affairs persist, Syracuse has put themselves in an excellent position to succeed.

Who said that with 21 minutes remaining Syracuse was sunk?

3:01 PM
Marques Hagans is a magician.

A magician that would give me fits if I were a Virginia fan. It's feast or famine with this guy.

3:05 PM
It's time to bring the heat.

Blitz. Blitz. Blitz. Blitz.

Also, it'll be interesting to see how Coach Robinson manages the game down the stretch here. As a young head coach, it's these moments that define the decision making ability of the captain of the ship.

3:07 PM
1:41 left.
1 timeout remaining.
3rd and 2.

This is the defining moment.

3:10 PM
Wow.

Groh has huge stones. Huge.

3:14 PM
I hate you, Marques Hagans.

Big East Football: Week Three



Last week I took a brief respite from putting together this catalogue of Big East games.

Why?

It's simple: I didn't feel it necessary to dedicate space on the internet to publicizing a slate of games featuring Pittsburgh against Ohio, Connecticut versus Liberty, West Virginia taking on Wofford, Syracuse smacking around Buffalo, South Florida hosting Florida A&M, and Rutgers meeting Villanova.

I'd rather drink bleach and try some scratch and sniff Agent Orange than have to concern myself with that roster of football gruel.

This week, however, things are much more interesting and deserve a mention on the valuable real estate that is this blog.

Big East Football: Week Three
DateOpponentLocationTVTime
9.17.05Virginia v. SyracuseSyracuse, NYESPN212:00 PM
9.17.05Oregon State v. LouisvilleLouisville, KYESPN12:00 PM
9.17.05West Virginia v. MarylandCollege Park, MDJP/MSN/WTAE12:00 PM
9.17.05Pittsburgh v. NebraskaLincoln, NEABC3:30 PM
9.17.05Connecticut v. Georgia TechAtlanta, GAESPNU6:45 PM
9.1705Central Florida v. South Florida Tampa, FLFSN FL7:00 PM
9.17.05Western Carolina v. CincinnatiCincinnati, OH7:00 PM
9.17.05Rutgers v. BuffaloBuffalo, NYYES8:00 PM

Reasonable Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 1): 4-4
Optimistic Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 1): 7-1
Pessimistic Out of Conference BE Record (Week 1): 3-5

The marquee matchup involving a Big East member this weekend is Syracuse taking on Virginia in the Carrier Dome. I normally don't like to toot the horn of the home team, but this game has a million storylines that make the game interesting.
  • The roles each university played in the ACC/Big East realignment
  • D'Brickashaw Ferguson and the fact that he almost wore different shades of orange and blue
  • Interesting coaches and styles of play
  • Both clubs are looking to establish themselves in this game to set a tone for the rest of the season
  • And lots, lots more!

If you're interested in some Virginia perspective on the game, check out these blogs listed by Fanblogs: Sexy Results! and Dave Sez.

Tipping Points?

[Preface]
A few years ago, writer Malcolm Gladwell burst onto the literary scene with a book entitled Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

In this tome, Gladwell asserts that the rules of existence are defined by isolated events as the transformation of an idea to reality is governed by the interconnectedness of small aspects of the whole.

To Gladwell, patterns are an important aspect of perception. As individuals become more knowledgeable about the particular aspects of a pattern or progression, "tipping points" may be defined to determine when a small idea has exerted its presence to create an eventuality. These triggering points provide the definition and context necessary to perceive the cause or remedy of epidemics and seismic realignment or change.

While the book is incredibly boring and has no overt connection to the game of college football, the abstract concepts underlying Gladwell's illustrations of perception and interconnectedness may be applicable in providing context to Syracuse’s 2005 football season.

Understanding that Coach Robinson is attempting to restore some of the glory that once was Syracuse football, examination of Syracuse's efficiency and production compared to both its opponents and to itself may shed some light on whether the Orange is approaching a "tipping point.”

There doesn't seem to be a magical formula for determining what may or may not be a “tipping point.” Therefore, I have taken the liberty of assembling a series of potentially telling statistical categories and lumped them together for review.

[Methodology]
Unlike many other analytical models, this analysis requires only minimal statistical gymnastics.

Without going into a drawn out methodological explanation, the statistical categories used for this analysis are the small aspects that may or may not be identified as “tipping points.” The Pythagorean values illustrated below serve as the overall picture or reality into which the “tipping points” have a material effect. When the Pythagorean value rises, there must be an explanation, and the explanation is likely found in the rudimentary aspects of the game of football.

[Data]
The data illustrated below certainly does not encompass the full range of statistical categories that could potentially be considered a “tipping point.” The reason the following categories have been considered is their value in illustrating efficiency and production. In viewing output in this fashion, it may be easier to identify material changes in production that could be defined as a “tipping point.”

Reading the tabular data below is fairly easy. The number in parentheses represents Syracuse’s opponent’s production in that particular statistical category. The number not isolated in parentheses represents the value applied to Syracuse’s output.

Legend:
Rushing
Y/R = Yards per rush
P/R = Points per rush

Passing
Y/PA = Yards per pass attempt
Y/PA(D) = Yards per pass attempt (differential)
P/PA = Points per pass attempt
Y/PC = Yards per pass completion
P/PC = Points per pass completion
PC% = Pass completion percentage

Drive Efficiency
Y/D = Yards per drive
DEF = Drive Efficiency Factor
TOB = Total Offensive Benefit
T/D = Turnovers per drive
3D% = 3rd down conversion percentage
RZ = Red Zone Efficiency
FG% = Field goal percentage

Pythagorean
PYT = Syracuse’s Pythagorean value

Tipping Points?
SeasonWVUUBUVAFSUUCONNRUPITTCIN
Rushing
Y/R2.966(3.931)0.692 (3.822)6.327 (1.724)2.222 (6.159)1.452 (3.222)4.353 (5.121)1.757 (2.641)3.324 (3.540)1.300 (3.872)
P/R0.205 (0.172)0.231 (0.000)0.436 (0.000)0.333 (0.273).194 (0.333)0.000 (0.310)0.000 (0.000)0.000 (0.240)0.300 (0.128)
Passing
Y/PA5.847 (6.509)2.742 (6.185)6.318 (2.704)6.615 (5.577)7.560 (11.000)4.032 (3.000)6.719 (7.250)3.423 (7.179)10.962 (6.000)
Y/PA(D)-0.663-3.4433.6141.038-3.441.032 -1.071-3.7554.962
P/PA0.112 (0.226)0.000 (0.000)0.000 (0.000)0.231 (0.231)0.240 (0.500)0.194 (0.000)0.000 (0.429)0.231 (0.214)0.000 (0.375)
Y/PC12.204 (11.795)5.667 (9.824)8.111 (13.9)10.118 (9.063)13.500 (18.000)12.500 (7.500)12.357 (15.615)9.889 (11.167)20.357 (9.375)
P/PC0.233 (0.410)0.000 (0.000)0.000 (0.000)0.353 (0.375)0.429 (0.818)0.600 (0.000)0.000 (0.923)0.667 (0.333)0.000 (0.375)
PC%0.479 (0.552)48.39 (62.96)45.46 (33.33)65.38 (61.54)56.00 (61.11)32.3(40.0)50.0 (46.43)34.62 (64.29)53.85 (64.00)
Drive Efficiency
Y/D17.717 (22.525)6.059 (19.941)32.467 (8.786)21.000 (34.667)15.600 (32.000)17.063 (21.375)13.222 (17.000)12.625 (22.235)30.636 (27.667)
DEF0.809 (1.287)0.034 (0.485)2.706 (0.161)1.75 (1.889)0.233 (2.167)0.672 (1.781)-0.009 (0.75)-0.198 (1.147)2.189 (2.306)
TOB97.167 (157.000)0.583 (8.25)40.583 (2.25)21.000 (22.667)3.500 (34.667)10.750 (28.500)-0.167 (13.500)-3.167 (19.5)24.083 (27.667)
T/D0.167 (0.148)0.118 (0.294)0.000 (0.143)0.000 (0.25)0.267 (0.125)0.188 (0.000)0.278 (0.167)0.313 (0.176)0.091 (0.000)
3D%18.6 (33.33)0.00 (7.14)31.25(17.6)33.33(58.8)26.7 (43.8)20.00(20.00)7.14 (33.33)0.00 (50.00)25.00 (28.57)
RZ1.000 (0.500)1.000 (0.000)1.000 (.8)1.000 (0.667)0.000 (1.000)0.667 (0.000)1.000 (0.667)1.000 (0.667)
FG%0.5833 (0.667)0.000 (0.667)0.333 (0.000)1.000 (1.000)0.000 (0.500)0.000 (1.000)0.750 (0.500)0.333 (0.667)1.000 (0.000)
Pythagorean
PYT0.263

[Analysis]
NOTE: The season totals are through the Cincinnati game.

West Virginia Game Analysis
Buffalo Game Analysis
Virginia Game Analysis



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:

[Television]
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!

[Damien Rhodes]
So far this season, Damien Rhodes has accounted for 79% of Syracuse’s offensive scoring by generating 15.0 points per game.

Unbelievable.

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.

[Orange Defense]
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.

[Statistical Comparison]
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.

[Syracuse Receivers]
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.

Pathetic.

[Steve Gregory]
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.

[Offensive Line]
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.

[Placekicking]
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.

Great….

[Stupid Shit]
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).

BlogPoll Roundtable #7

BlogPoll Roundtable, the brainchild of BlogPoll superhero Brian over at mgoblog, is an effort to generate discourse on a series of questions and issues currently applicable to the college football universe.

This edition of the BlogPoll Roundtable is hosted by Eagle In Atlanta. To read responses of other bloggers to the roundtable questions, simply click here.

1. What member of the mainstream sports media (preferably one who covers college sports) makes your skin crawl, blood boil, forces you to change the channel or hit mute? Why?
Now that Trev Alberts is officially gone from ESPN and roaming the Nebraskan plains looking to reclaim some semblance of relevance, it’s difficult to peg an analyst or writer that deserves the ire of the collective college football community. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t individuals that are less than terrific. Rather, it simply means that there are a few guys that haven’t yet reached the level of dopiness that Alberts evinced on a weekly basis but have the potential to do so.

I am tempted to write 1,500 words on how much I hate Tim Brando, but I’m not exactly sure it fits into the question presented. As a studio host, he doesn’t exactly fit into the characterization of a traditional pundit. However, he is a dope and is on television, and as such, deserves a mention in this essay.

With that said, the guy I’d tab as a world-class clown is another CBS employee - Dennis Dodd. Writing with a self-importance that is surpassed by none but derided by all, Dodd continually turns in some of the most mediocre pieces of prose ever written by a national sports writer. How Dodd has garnered the number of awards he has is probably more an affirmation of the dearth of great college football writers covering the game right now than Dodd’s actual ability.

2. What writer, broadcaster, show, website etc. deserves more recognition? Who is someone we should all be reading, watching or listening to?
There are obviously a number of great blogs currently writing original content that are worth a read on a regular basis. To try to list these blogs would be an affront to those I may forget to mention. If someone is interested in a sampling of these great blogs, just check out The Truth Laid Bear College Football Community or mgoblog’s listing of BlogPoll voters.

With regard to traditional news outlets, I enjoy reading Ivan Maisel and Pat Forde on ESPN.com. These guys, more often than not, write pieces that are actually worth reading and stimulate worthwhile thought. With a combination of minimal fluff and accessible prose, Forde and Maisel can hardly be beat.

When speaking about underappreciated television or radio analysts, Bill Curry does a great job and rarely gets any publicity for it. He may not be the most excitable guy, but his knowledge of the game overcomes his understated tone.

Finally, there are the great play-by-play men that don’t get enough love. Guys like Brad Nessler and Dave Sims are ultra classy and rarely make watching the game of football a chore.

BlogPoll: Week 3

Iowa loses to Iowa State in pretty convincing fashion.

Michigan gets smacked by Notre Dame.

Ohio State can't "protect its house."

Georgia turns in a stinker against South Carolina.

What a world, what a world, what a world....

With that, my ballot for this week is seeing a pretty major shakedown. Outside of Southern California (and maybe Texas), I have little confidence in any team to post a definite victory on a week-to-week basis. For the time being, the variables surrounding teams I've ranked three through 25 are still dominating, and until that begins to abate, my poll ballot will continue to be volatile.

[Games I Took In This Week]
Notre Dame v. Michigan
North Carolina v. Georgia Tech
Buffalo v. Syracuse (Radio)
Villanova v. Rutgers (Radio)
Texas v. Ohio State

[Ballot]
BlogPoll: Week Three
RankTeamRecordPreviousValue
1.Southern California1-01
2.Texas2-02
3.Virginia Tech2-04
4.Tennessee1-05
5.Louisville1-08
6.Louisiana State1-09
7.Notre Dame2-022
8.Florida2-011
9.Ohio State1-17
10.Georgia2-010
11.Purdue1-014
12.Florida State2-015
13.Miami (FL)0-116
14.Arizona State1-112
15.Fresno State1-017
16.Texas A&M0-113
17.Texas Tech1-018
18.Michigan1-16
19.Iowa1-13
20.Georgia Tech2-0NR
21.Boston College2-019
22.Colorado2-020
23.Virginia1-021
24.Alabama2-023
25.Clemson2-0

NR


Commentary to follow shortly.

Syracuse Scraps

Even though the world of Syracuse athletics has all but revolved around the tragedy that was the West Virginia football game, there have been some other interesting developments coming out of the Manley complex this past week that deserve a mention and some corresponding commentary.

Boeheim Immortalized
Whether Jim Boeheim was ever officially recognized as a Hall of Famer has never been an issue. Those with an appreciation for the collegiate game know that his record speaks for itself:
  • 27 20-win seasons;
  • Over 700 wins;
  • 24 NCAA tournament invitations
  • Three national championship appearances;
  • A national championship;
  • Three-time Big East Coach of the Year;
  • Numerous Big East Conference tournament and regular season championships;
  • A slew of All-Americans;
  • A guiding force behind USA Basketball; and
  • The continual driving force behind the monster that is Big East Conference basketball.

A lot of pundits and critics have always knocked Boeheim on his NCAA and Big East Conference tournament record. Granted, the results have been somewhat underwhelming considering Boeheim’s career has spanned almost 30 years. However, Boeheim’s legacy shouldn’t be judged by counting the number of championship trophies encased in glass. Rather, it should be evaluated by considering the number of teams Boeheim has developed from forgettable afterthought to viable contender.

Unlike Mike Krzyzewski Dean Smith, Jim Boeheim was never blessed year in and year out with a roster dotted with McDonald’s All-Americans. Instead, Boeheim has generally taken guys with potential like Sherman Douglas and Hakim Warrick, developed them, and fused them with an undistinguished (at least at their time of recruitment) cast of supporting actors.

To travel the college basketball road in this fashion would doom even an above average coach. Boeheim, on the other hand, has used this model to elevate his program to remarkable heights.

Being bronzed in Springfield doesn’t validate Boeheim’s greatness. He would be a basketball giant whether or not a dreadful rendering of his likeness was bronzed in western Massachusetts. This recognition, rather, is an acknowledgment of gratitude from the national and international basketball community.

Syracuse Looks West
Donnie Webb from the Syracuse Post-Standard has been mentioning for the last week or so that Dr. Gross would be making an announcement about Syracuse’s future football schedule some time soon. While no official announcement has been made, it appears as if Syracuse is looking to ink home-and-home series with Texas, Washington, and, potentially, Southern California.

That’s some serious firepower potentially being added to an already stacked slate of out of conference opponents.

Before dissecting whether scheduling these teams is a good thing, it may be helpful to frame the discussion by fitting it into the four concrete rules of creating a football schedule. The rules are as follows:

  • When scheduling a non-BCS conference opponent, always play them at home;
  • When scheduling a BCS conference opponent or Notre Dame, always get a home-and-home series;
  • When scheduling a non-conference game, ensure that the contest will generate enough interest to merit a television appearance; and
  • When scheduling a non-conference game, ensure that the opponent will residually increase a team’s recruiting profile.

To quote the forgettable basketball coach from Teen Wolf, “if you follow these rules, everything else is cream cheese.”

The controlling question is, therefore, whether the aforementioned three schools fit the bill. Without equivocation, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

The primary goal at this juncture for Dr. Gross and Coach Robinson is to place Syracuse in the conscious of the nation. Keeping a schedule dotted with regional and national powers like the aforementioned schools is an easy way to reach this objective.

Ohio State is Running Scared
In other scheduling news, Ohio State is absolutely terrified of facing the offensive juggernaut that is Syracuse football.

Or the Buckeyes just don’t see any value in playing Syracuse.

One of the two; it’s a fine line I suppose.

It has been widely rumored that Ohio State has been actively seeking to put a stop to their series with Syracuse before it has a chance to begin. If this state of affairs comes to fruition, Syracuse would be losing out on a great opportunity.

Coach Robinson has identified Ohio, amongst others, as a recruiting target state. Having a home-and-home series with Ohio State would clearly bring the Orange brand to the cognizance of a host of terrific D-1A prospects. The more these potential recruits have the opportunity to become aware of Syracuse product, the better off Syracuse would be in the long run. It’s simply a matter of exposure. The more opportunities these Ohio footballers have to watch the Orange, the better the chance they will consider enrolling at Syracuse.

Cutting short this series before it has a chance to begin would put a difficult restriction on Coach Robinson to reach this target demographic.

Report Card: v. Buffalo

If Buffalo isn’t the worst team in Division 1-A, I pity the university that is.

The Syracuse offense got on a bit of a roll this weekend, but the actual value of those yards and points will be unknown until Virginia comes to the Dome this Saturday. Until Syracuse is able to have this kind of performance against a team with a little bit of ability, it’s difficult to believe that the output the Orange generated against Buffalo is illustrative of the actual ability of this Syracuse club.

With that said, let the evaluation begin.

Offense
Quaterbacks: B-
When asked how Perry Patterson looked against the Bulls on Saturday, illustrator extraordinaire Jeff Passetti responded with a very appropriate “fat.”

It is said that a quarterback progresses the most between his first and second seasons as the starting signal caller. Patterson, however, seems like he is hell bent against being a conformist to traditional football thinking. Against Buffalo’s pitiful defensive secondary, Patterson remained, for the most part, terrifically inaccurate and unsure of himself in the pocket. The “Pillsbury D’oh! Boy” continues to stare down receivers on just about every passing play and is seemingly opposed to delivering the ball with a quick release.

The hopes of Orange nation rest on the pudgy left arm of Patterson. If he doesn’t mature as a passer soon, the potential for redshirting Joe Fields may fizzle very rapidly.

Running backs: A-
Buffalo can’t stop the run.

Damien Rhodes can run like a madman.

With that formula, Rhodes would have to have tried pretty hard to not turn in a 200+ yard, four touchdown day. Other than Coach Mac waxing poetic about Rhodes and basically hyping him for the Heisman, listening to Rhodes run through and around Buffalo was reassuring of his talent.

Offensive Line: B+
For the most part, the offensive line managed to put together a nice performance. Patterson was rarely put in a position where he had an unmanageable period of time to deliver the football. The run blocking was superb and the stupid penalties that doomed Syracuse’s chances against West Virginia were mitigated to a manageable level.

However, everything isn’t peaches and cream.

For some reason, this offensive line has no idea how to setup a screen pass. It’s ridiculous and needs to be fixed immediately. Damien Rhodes is too valuable a pass receiver to have his talent wasted by an offensive line that can’t identify defensive pressure.

Wide Receivers: C
Is it possible for any sporting goods store in the greater Syracuse metropolitan area to stock some Fred Bilitnikoff-endorsed Stick ‘Um?

Once again, the Syracuse receiving corps did their best impression of Stephen Hawking attempting to catch passes with mittens on. It’s very difficult to believe that Lane, Williams, Lobdell, and Moss have this much trouble hauling in passes. When Patterson actually delivers a catchable ball, this receiving corps needs to catch the football. It’s that simple.

On the bright side, the receiving corps did a pretty good job of getting into positions where they could drop the ball. With improved route running and recognition of the opposition’s technique, Orange receivers did show some marked improvement in a necessary aspect of the game.

However, they really need to find a vaccine for the “dropsies.”

Defense
Defensive Line: A
Awesome. Simply awesome.

Kader Drame was a force up the middle batting down passes and eating up space for Syracuse’s linebackers to make plays.

Ryan LaCasse and James Wyche were unstoppable rushing from the outside; Jim Hofher may as well put LaCasse and Wyche on his roster as part of his Buffalo backfield.

The performance may have been against Buffalo, but Wyche’s and LaCasse’s play would have terrorized even an average offensive line on Saturday.

Linebackers: B+
Only one thing need be said: improved tackling.

If this unit continues to play with this kind of technique, there is a good chance that even the best running teams will have a hard time pounding the ball on the Orange.

Secondary: A-
Anthony Smith is becoming a certified ball hawk. Over the last two games, Smith has accumulated two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. It’s nice to see a Syracuse senior actually live up to his potential.

The play of Tanard Jackson also merits a comment. Last week, Steve Gregory stepped up to make some big hits. This week, Jackson took on the responsibility of laying the wood to the opponent. Solid in coverage, solid in stopping the run. You couldn’t ask for much more.

Special Teams
Place Kicking: D+
Krautman?

Shadle?

Barker?

All these guys are terrible. To believe that Syracuse can’t attract a decent kicker to the Dome is mind-boggling.

Carney: A+
Carney turned in another spectacular performance logging almost a 50 yard average on his punts against Buffalo.

‘Nough said.

Coaching
Defensive: A
The aggressive mentality of Coach Robinson is paying immediate dividends. This Syracuse squad is in a prime position to be considered amongst the top 25 units in the country.

It’s really refreshing to see this kind of Bruce Lee attitude being employed on the defensive end – a constant attacking attitude that stops only when the opponent is helpless. Keep it up.

Offensive: C+
This grade should probably be about an “A-” in terms of game management. The coaching staff identified Buffalo’s weakness against the run and exploited it like crazy.

However, I was not pleased with the lack of desire to open up the passing game in what was essentially an exhibition game. Understanding that Syracuse was so inept at passing the football last week against West Virginia, it would have been reassuring to see Perry Patterson slice and dice the Bulls secondary. Against such a weak opponent, Patterson and the receiving corps could have gained some much needed confidence by putting up a big passing day.

Hopefully this was just a case of Brian Pariani wanting to play it close to the vest in order to not show Virginia too much.

Break Out the Zoloft

After a refreshing week of Coach Robinson consistently taking the heat for the West Virginia debacle (and simultaneously charging his staff and motley crew of ragtag footballers to remedy the team’s deficiencies) it’s about time to take a look at some of the statistical underpinnings of the Labor Day Disaster.

When a team turns in a pathetic performance such as the clunker Syracuse laid last Sunday, there is no particularly good place to start. All roads lead to the same conclusion - Syracuse looked like they were playing in wheelchairs. However, some of those roads are more scenic than others.

With this in mind, the examination is going to start by looking at Syracuse's drive efficiency. For a full description of what the numbers below mean and how they are determined, check out this article on Syracuse's 2004 drive efficiency.

Drive Efficiency - Syracuse v. West Virginia
PFSEFDEFTOB
SU.5049.2696.0343.5833
WVU1.66181.0735.48538.25

Just to reiterate a point clearly illustrated above, Syracuse’s offense benefited the Orange football team just over half a point. Not a half point per possession, mind you. Rather, the Syracuse offense, for the full 60 minutes, generated only enough offense to abstractly create one half of one point.

Pitiful, but not unexpected when the offensive unit goes 0 of 15 on third down conversions.

What's also interesting is that the two interceptions thrown by Patterson had very little effect on the offense's ability to score considering Syracuse's points factor (calculated to be a team's points per drive if a turnover was not committed) was almost equivalent to the Orange's ultimate true offensive benefit.

Fantastic.

If the above isn't cooking your grits, take a look at the difference between West Virginia's offensive efficiency and Syracuse's. It doesn't take a genius to realize that if an offense can’t even come close to matching its counterpart, a situation is created where it becomes very difficult for a team’s defense, no matter how good the unit may be, to put a team in a position to win.

Especially when Syracuse's offense is only averaging about 6.059 yards per drive.

Reaching for the tissues yet? Here's some more fun stuff to chew on.

Syracuse was only able to run 57 plays against the Mountaineers on Sunday. More than half of the snaps Patterson took went for zero or negative yardage. All this amounted to a staggering 1.8 yards per play and .123 points per play.

Apparently, “three yards and a cloud of dust” would’ve been a marked improvement in offensive strategy.

What about value per play when illustrated against the backdrop of time of possession, you say?

Syracuse ran 57 plays over 26:05 minutes of gametime. That amounts to a whopping .2684 points per minute. To match the 15 points West Virginia put on the board, Syracuse would have had to have possessed the ball for over 55 minutes of gametime. Awesome.

Need a respite? Too bad. Here are some quick hitters.

  • Perry Patterson's quarterback rating was a dismal 58.516;
  • Damien Rhodes accounted for 2.913 yards per touch, .261 points per touch, and a pass receiver rating just south of 44;
  • Speaking of pass receiver ratings, Rhodes' rating of 44 was almost 20 units higher than his closest peer - Rice Moss; and
  • Syracuse's average starting field position was its own 27 yard line while West Virginia began each drive with an average starting position of its own 34.

Finally, it's time to take a look at the player participation report so as to identify those players proudly becoming a part of the "Johnnie Morant Burned Redshirt" tradition. Please put your hands together and welcome Bruce Williams, Lavar Lobdell, and Boonah Brinkley. Your pointless participation in Sunday's game officially makes you eligible to stunt your growth as a football player.

Congratulations!

Buzz Beer?

There is nothing worse than having to slug down beers at 7:30 AM to get in the inebriated state necessary to watch the horror that is a noon Syracuse University kickoff.

Well, there is something worse – being stone-cold sober and voluntarily choosing to watch the tragic amalgamation of disappointment and frustration that is the current state of Syracuse University football.

While the combination of barley and hops is generally an essential aspect to the college football experience, merging it with the joy of wiping sleep from your eyes is a difficult concoction to swallow. Literally.

I have it on good authority (read: Jon Turner – Certified Beerologist) that Budweiser is playing the role of savior for all of us mid-morning hardcore boozehounds. By combining the volatile combination of caffeine and highly carbonated, but low quality, barley and hops, Budweiser has essentially created the equivalent to Drew Carey’s Buzz Beer.

I proudly present to you “Natty Up!”

Not only does Budweiser believe that the Natural series of lagers is the optimal foundation upon which to create a beer that makes you both depressed and hyperactive, it’s such a good idea that it should be marketed in mass quantities to the general population.

This may very well be the most important contribution to college football since the evolution of dance teams and the College GameDay live campus tour. Nothing can quite compare to the luxury of chugging only a fine American brewski instead of beer and cups upon cups of coffee. This beverage, in one glorious swoop, allows a man to drink a traditional male beverage without the maddening consequence of peeing every two and a half minutes as a result of trying to stay awake.

Hooray almost intolerable beer!

So put away those malted pieces of trash and get reacquainted with an old friend called fermented deliciousness. It’s time for everyone to come to their senses and realize that it’s a Natural world; we’re just living in it.

BlogPoll: Week Two

It's the beginning of the week, and that means only one thing: BlogPoll.

Well, that and wanting to tar and feather Perry Patterson for finding a way to butcher Bill Walsh's "perfect" offensive philosophy.

15 of 32 for only 83 yards? Is this really possible?

Anyways, I'll get to the nitty gritty of Syracuse's dismal effort once Syracuse Athletics official logs the statistical horror story that was Sunday's game. Until then, BlogPoll duties are taking centerstage.

As a new aspect to BlogPoll submissions, all pollsters are required to disclose, in addition to the specifics of their individual ballot, which games they saw that particular weekend. Here's the list of games I watched:

  • UCF v. South Carolina
  • Oregon v. Houston
  • Tulsa v. Minnesota
  • Utah v. Arizona
  • Ohio State v. Miami (Ohio)
  • TCU v. Oklahoma
  • Bowling Green v. Wisconsin
  • Rutgers v. Illinois
  • Ball State v. Iowa
  • Boston College v. BYU
  • Colorado State v. Colorado
  • Boise State v. Georgia
  • USC v. Hawai'i
  • Notre Dame v. Pittsburgh
  • Georgia Tech v. Auburn
  • UCLA v. San Diego State
  • West Virginia v. Syracuse
  • Louisville v. Kentucky
  • Virginia Tech v. N.C. State
  • UNLV v. New Mexico
  • Miami v. Florida State

There's no chance in hell I watch this many games a week as the season progresses. This past weekend just happened to be a perfect storm of sitting on my ass and giving the hammer a serious introduction to my right thumb.

BlogPoll: Week Two
RankTeamRecordPreviousValue
1.Southern California1-01
2.Texas1-02
3.Iowa1-05
4.Virginia Tech1-03
5.Tennessee1-04
6.Michigan1-07
7.Ohio State1-012
8.Louisville1-08
9.Louisiana State0-09
10.Georgia1-014
11.Florida1-010
12.Arizona State1-018
13.Texas A&M0-113
14.Purdue0-023
15.Florida State1-021
16.Miami0-111
17.Fresno State0-016
18.Texas Tech0-020
19.Boston College1-025
20.Colorado1-024
21.Virginia1-022
22.Notre Dame1-0NR
23.Alabama1-0NR
24.Auburn0-117
25.Oklahoma0-16

[Commentary]
1. Southern California
Looked very sharp on the road.

Is there any player in the country more underappreciated than Steve Smith? Leinart and Bush get all the publicity, but Smith really makes USC games an aboslute joy to watch.

2. Texas
Louisiana-Lafayette may stink, but they still give out 85 scholarships. And Texas seemed like they whooped every last one of 'em.

Huge test Saturday night in Columbus. Vince Young's legacy may be determined by how well he plays against a talented Buckeye defense.

3. Iowa
Attention College Football Nation,

Iowa now knows who will be running the ball. And they will run like crazy men. And you will be impressed. That is all.

Sincerely,

Kirk Ferentz

4. Virginia Tech
Marcus Vick is talented, but I'm still not sold on him being the quarterback his brother was. Nice arm, nice pocket presence. The whole package, however, seems to be off kilter a shade.

Despite this, Mike Imoh runs the rock as well as anyone around, and the Hokie defense will keep them in every game they play this season.

5. Tennessee
Things seemed to take a turn for the better when Phil Fulmer came to his senses and stuck Clausen behind center for a struggling Erik Ainge.

Gerald Riggs is a stud. He could very well run for 1,500 and 12 touchdowns this season if allowed to do so.

6. Michigan
It was what it was. No reason to drop them, no reason to raise them.

We'll see what Lloyd Carr unleashes on ND Saturday.

7. Ohio State
Well, Justin Zwick can actually throw the football. Who 'da thunk it?

I was very impressed with Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn this past weekend. Both guys have tremendous separation ability and silky smooth hands.

8. Louisville
Let's recap their game against Kentucky:

  • Awesome. Totally unstoppable.
  • Floundering.
  • Holy crap, they could actually lose to Kentucky?!!?
  • Louisville pulls head out of collective asses.

So, what are we left with? I don't know.

Might as well leave them at eight.

9. Louisiana State
Stupid hurricane.

10. Georgia
The defense was swarming, Shockley donned the Superman "S", and Richt didn't implode on national TV.

If this was actually a sign of things to come, Georgia very well could be in my Top 5 before LSU plays a home game.

11. Florida
Chris Leak threw for like a million yards and it still didn't lead to an historic blow-out of Wyoming. You can really tell that this entire offense is still adjusting to the Meyer mentality.

12. Arizona State
Yes, Temple stinks something fierce. But Sam Keller has a gun, and when a team drops a 60 spot, that demands your attention, no matter the opponent.

13. Texas A&M
A&M loses and I don't drop the Aggies?

Damn right.

Reggie McNeal & Co. are still a top 15 club, despite Coach Franchione's dopey decision making. Walking into Death Valley was a no-win situation for A&M, and considering how well they played for 55 some-odd minutes, I don't think there's a ranked lower than the Aggies that would beat them. Including Clemson in a rematch.

14. Purdue
Purdue skyrockets up my ballot despite not playing this past weekend.

The reason? All the fine folks in blogging about the Boilermakers.

I am quickly regretting having Purdue so low in my preseason poll.

15. Florida State
Write it down now - FSU's quarterbacks will cost the Seminoles at least three games this year.

However, none of those three games include their tilt against Syracuse, which may showcase to the world just how bad quarterback play can be.

16. Miami
I like Kyle Wright.

I like Greg Olsen.

I like the 'Canes defense.

I don't like Devin Hester.

And I especially don't like the disaster that is the 'Canes kicking unit.

17. Fresno State
We're all waiting for the Bulldogs debut, Coach Hill.

18. Texas Tech
Same to you, Coach Leach.

19. Boston College
BC could've made my life more enjoyable by losing to BYU out in Provo. Unfortunately, I was forced to watch the Eagle's snooze-fest offense bore me to death for three hours as they tried to salt the game away from what seemed like the opening kickoff.

20. Colorado
CU/CSU should always be played at Mile High, cause nothing beats two drunken student sections ready to lynch their counterparts.

21. Virginia
The question has been officially posed: Does Virginia become Syracuse's first non-Buffalo win on the season?

If the Cavs play anything like they did this weekend, it's a possibility. Of course, Syracuse has to figure out the finer points of the forward pass before inking a "2" in the win column.

22. Notre Dame
Charlie Weis is fat.

Just like the Irish's margin of victory over Pittsburgh.

23. Alabama
The Tide probably should have been in my preseason top 25, but I'm an idiot. If Brodie Croyle can stay healthy this season, I don't see any reason why Alabama will fall from the echelon of the ranked.

24. Auburn
I struggled mightily with whether to rank Auburn or Georgia Tech here. I probably should've deferred to the Yellow Jackets, considering they walked into Auburn and pulled out the victory, but I think the Tigers were merely working through some first game jitters. Georgia Tech may very well be for real, but I'm not prepared to say that GT would beat Auburn more times than not if they had to go at it again.

I really like Anthony Mix and think that the defense will get enough done this weekend against Mississippi State to erase some of the memories of this past weekend.

25. Oklahoma
The Sooners are on Double Secret Probation.

And if they keep this up, there'll be no more fun of any kind in Norman, Oklahoma.

Pathetic

The new era of Syracuse football is here.

Unfortunately, somebody forgot to bring an offensive playbook along.

If you would've told me that Syracuse would allow WVU's offense to score only six points on the day, I probably would have thought that a Syracuse win was very probable. If you would've told me that Syracuse would also force five turnovers, I probably would have thought that a Syracuse victory was a foregone conclusion.

If you also would've told me that Perry Patterson would give WVU nine points and refuse to move the ball on offense, I would've told you that Syracuse would lose 15-7.

Thank God Oklahoma lost yesterday, because if they hadn't, Syracuse may have turned in the most pitiful performance of the weekend.

Report Card: v. West Virginia
Offense
Quaterbacks: F
Perry Patterson was predictably terrible. Better yet, he actually exceeded the expectations of his ineptitude. Granted, the play calling he had to deal with was less than stellar, but giving the opposition nine points in a game that Syracuse would ultimately lose by eight is totally unacceptable.

The rule is simple: if you average 2.6 yards per completion, you will receive an F. That's the rule; it's chiseled in stone somewhere.

Running backs: D-
Damien Rhodes underwhelmed carrying the ball for a craptastic 2.8 yards per carry.
Kareem Jones was a non-factor with his three touches.

All in all, I'd rather drink gin.

Receivers and Tight Ends: D-
Here's a tip to Rice Moss and Tim Lane: if you don't try and get open, Perry Patterson can't throw an incompletion in your general direction.

As predicted, Joe Kowalewski was a non-factor with only one reception on the day.

Offensive Line: D-
The offensive line may have accounted for almost as many penalty yards as Syracuse accumulated in total offense.

I was really hoping for some "sieve" chants from the downtrodden Orange faithful.

Defense
Defensive Line: B-
James Wyche and Kader Drame were playing like men amongst boys today.

Despite some overpursuit issues, the defensive line was able to control a lot of the play allowing the linebackers and secondary to step up and go for the strip.

Linebackers: B-
West Virginia had a field day running the option draw today, and that was partly due to Syracuse's linebackers not shedding their blocks and stepping up to make the play. Kellen Pruitt and Kelvin Smith had some nice tackles today, but outside of these sporadic feats of strength, the linebacker corps was fairly pedestrian.

Secondary: A-
Anthony Smith was worth 3 pass breakups and 2 fumble recoveries today.

Steve Gregory chimed in with 8 tackles to lead the Orange defensive effort.

Throw in very few deep completions and the Orange secondary more than held their own. A real surprise and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Special Teams
Carney: A+
This very well may have been Carney's signature game, despite some shoddy downfield coverage which ultimately hurt Brendan's average.

11 punts.
480+ yards.
A long of 59. On the fly.
An average of just about 44 yards.

Which way to the Yale Club?

Coaching
Offensive: F
Here was Syracuse's playbook for the day:
  • Screen pass to Rhodes;
  • Rhodes on the counter; and
  • Punt

Pitiful. Granted, the execution today was pathetic, but you can only drive the car you've been given. Coach Pariani really needs to hit the books this week to figure out a gameplan, because throwing darts at a pile of papers to figure out what play to send to Patterson isn't really working.

Defensive: C+
The defensive unit may have outperformed its coaching staff today. It seemed like the coaching staff refused to make adjustments to counter the WVU option run attack. What saved Coach Robinson today were all the turnovers his defense was creating, not the scheme they were forced to play within.


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