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Syracuse Spring Football: 2006

Perry Patterson: Default starting quarterback
and future IFOCE National Champion

At 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon, the demarcating boundary between the disappoint of Syracuse football 2005 and the 2006 campaign of frustration will officially be drawn. As such, it is worthwhile to take some space on this notebook to make some cursory notes about the Orange's spring and summer outlook.

Thanks to Coach Robinson's policy of limiting media opportunities during the spring football period, very little information regarding player development and movement has emanated from Manley since the Orange kicked off its practice schedule on March 20th. Thus, there is not a significant amount of news regarding spring progress that has not been sanitized or previously reported in various outlets. Accordingly, Saturday will be the publics (and arguably the media's) first opportunity to consider what pathetically low expectations will be reasonable for 2006.

As the summer progresses I hope to examine each position in more depth. At that point, more should be known about position battles and player development. This should, ideally, allow for an analysis to have more consequence. For now, however, I am simply going to utilize the spring prospectus published by the Syracuse Athletic Department to create what follows.

Today's edition of the outlook includes some general notes on the 2006 schedule and brief comments regarding the quarterback situation.


Who Are You?
As Syracuse attempts to turn the corner on its worst season in the university's proud 116-year football history, it will attempt to do so against five non-conference opponents that have rarely, if ever, shared the same football field with the Orange.

Syracuse has tangled with Miami of Ohio on two occasions. In 1987, Syracuse drilled the RedHawks 24-10 on the Carrier Dome carpet. The Don McPherson-led Orange[men] finished with an 11-0-1 record that season.

The only other meeting between the two schools came in 1980 as Syracuse again reigned triumphant with a 36-24 victory. The win was Syracuse's first on the season. The Orange[men] finished with a 5-6 record that year.

The last time Syracuse saw Big Ten member Iowa was in 1976 when it notched a 41-3 win against the Hawkeyes. Syracuse finished with a 3-8 record that season. One year prior, Syracuse edged out Iowa in a 10-7 contest in old Archbold Stadium. Syracuse finished just above the .500 mark that year with a 6-5 record.

The most frequent non-conference opponent on the Orange's 2006 schedule is Illinois. The Illini and Orange have played ten times in each school's history. Syracuse has won only one game in the series. The lone victory came in 1977 as Syracuse traveled to Champaign and walked away with a respectable 30-20 result. Syracuse finished with a 6-5 record that year.

The other meetings against Illinois came in 1982, 1981, 1978, 1970, 1954, 1953, 1951, 1910, and 1909. Overall in the series, Illinois has dominated at home with the average result in those games being 20.17 to 10.5.

Syracuse has never met Wake Forest or Wyoming on the gridiron.


CAPS: Returning starter from 2005
Bold: 2006 Pre-Spring projected starter
*: Injured
#: Suspended from spring practice
^: Questions about eligibility
$: Heisman Trophy Candidate


2006 Syracuse Quarterbacks
Returning PlayersP. PATTERSONSr.
J. FieldsJr.
M. HaleJr.
C. DantleySo.
Incoming PlayerA. RobinsonFr.

Coach Robinson has echoed some interesting comments regarding the quarterback situation at Syracuse this spring. Obviously, the signal caller situation is predictably unsettled, but what is concerning is that nobody in the program seems to have an idea of how this is all going to turn out. In pertinent part, Robinson had the following to say in the prospectus:

At quarterback, we are going into Spring ball with the idea that Perry is the first-string quarterbacdoes notat doesn't mean that the others don't have a chance to compete, but he is ahead right now. It will be an interesting Spring to watch the development at that position.
Unfortunately, Robinson's expectations of development have not materialized. In a recent story by Post-Standard staff writer Donnie Webb, Robinson stated the following:

Patterson is first-string, but not named starter

Robinson offered a slight clarification. Perry Patterson is not the starting quarterback. He's the first-string quarterback. Robinson said a starting position is earned. Patterson must still earn his position, though there's been nothing this spring to suggest that hasn't happened.

That cannot be good. The Orange is thirteen practices into its spring season and Patterson has yet to establish his control over the position. This further affirms my fear that despite Patterson's weight loss he is still freakishly inconsistent. Consequently, I have resigned myself to the fact that he will never turn into a functional quarterback in the mold of the surprisingly efficient (yet erratic) Robin Anderson.

[Note: That Paul Pasqualoni reference was brought to you by the letter "L" and the number ".500."]

Despite Patterson's lack of development, I still anticipate that he will be named the starter come the end of spring practice or, at the very latest, moments before Syracuse's September 2nd contest against Wake Forest. This conclusion is based not on a hope that Patterson will somehow become functional come that date, but rather on the assumption that Joe Fields will continue to serve as the team's enigma.

Over the last two seasons, Fields has yet to wrestle away the starting spot from Patterson. Frankly, I have no idea how this has not happened. For much of the last two years Patterson has actually been an impediment to offensive success rather than a positive cog driving the Orange machine. If Fields could not establish himself as a viable full-time alternative to Patterson over this period of time, I cannot envision a scenario that would have Fields unseating Patterson now.

In short, Syracuse is stuck with Patterson running the show into the ground in 2006. Orange Nation needs to resign itself to this fact now before any unwarranted expectations are rooted this summer.

With respect to Andrew Robinson, I do not think he will be a factor in 2006. While there is a possibility that Robinson has the talent to challenge Patterson and Fields for the starting spot this coming season, I anticipate that Coach Robinson will redshirt the young Marylander this year. This assumption is based on two conclusions:

1) the West Coast offense is a complex system that requires a significant degree of comprehension that a true freshman will be unable to absorb over the short summer period; and
2) there is no reason to trot Robinson out onto the field as Houston did with David Carr his rookie season.

The only scenario that I can envision that would result in Robinson not redshirting in 2006 is if local Christian Brothers Academy quarterback Mike Paulus gives a commitment to join the Orange as a freshman in 2007. Paulus has already indicated in various sources that he wants to be the only quarterback in his recruiting class. While his comments have not indicated whether this desire requires a school to abstain from redshirting a quarterback that would graduate 2011, I am led to believe that Syracuse would become a more attractive option to him if he was the lone freshman option when he enrolled as his competition for the quarterback position would greatly diminish.

This scenario, however, is highly speculative and as such, I will rest on my above comments until the Paulus situation is resolved.

As for the third-string quarterback battle, reports indicate that recruited walk-on Cameron Dantley has hurdled recruited scholarship player and maple leaf-fueled Matt Hale. So, the scenario has finally arisen that if Perry Patterson eats himself into a coma and Joe Fields decides he is sick of failing to realize his potential at Syracuse and wants to underachieve somewhere else, Syracuse could field a starting offensive and defensive player wearing the number eight.

[Note: The fact that this scenario has me more excited than Syracuse's actual exploits on the football field in 2006 is proof positive that my pessimism is eclipsed only by my gluttony for the absurd.]

Anticipated Post-Spring Starter: Perry Patterson
Player to Watch on April 15: Perry Patterson (begrudgingly)

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