Editor’s Note: This is part eight of an eight part series giving analysis of each of the eight teams in the Big East Football Conference, proceeding alphabetically, but ending with Syracuse. A new team was released each weekday for the last eight days. Feel free to use the comment section to supplement the facts and analysis presented, however my opinions will stand. Enjoy and I hope you are looking forward to the new Big East football season as much as I am. Part seven can be found here.
Preview – After finishing in the basement of the Big East for two years in a row, the 2007 Orange begin their campaign under Coach Greg Robinson with a new QB behind center in Andrew Robinson. Looking sharp in the spring game, he led several scoring drives and will be competent, possibly excellent, this coming season. Once again, Robinson must try to field a offensive line that may not be up to standards. Look for him to again try combinations, but they should be fairly competent as he has three, possibly four (academic issues) returning players, and seniors and juniors up to the task. The running backs are also an issue as Delone Carter (713yds on 156att, 4.6avg, 4 TD) will be out for the 2007 season. RB’s Curtis “Boonah” Brinkley (571yds on 139att, 4.1avg, 2 TD) and Paul Chiara (59yds on 17att, 3.5avg, 0 TD) will handle most of the carries this season. This will be the biggest question and the shakiest part of the team. The receivers will be tight on this team, with Taj Smith returning (with a fresh year of eligibility), along with Mike Williams and Rice Moss. Tight ends Tom Ferron and J.J. Nesheiwat will also be solid this year in receiving again. The defensive lost a lot of players in the linebacker area but will be solid again with players stepping up. The secondary will again be anchored by Joe 5 Fields and looked sharp and speedy in the spring game. Losing Heisman hopeful Brendan Carney hurt the special teams unit, but they have two competent punters competing to replace him.
Key Returning Players – WR Taj Smith, RB Curtis Brinkley, FS Joe 5 Fields
Key Losses – LB Kelvin Smith, LB Jerry Mackey, CB Tanard Jackson
My Thoughts – This team will again improve upon the season before. With a new quarterback not named Patterson there is again renewed hope that the Orange will return to some semblance of a winning season. The passing game should be vastly improved, and with the number one target back on the field, the white line is the only limit to how far they can go. The running back situation is not the best, but it is far from the worst as well. The offensive like should improve from last season, especially with a new coach in the area, and the quarterback should be sacked less now that he is significantly thinner than Perry.
How will we do? – I think this team has a legitimate shot at winning three out of the seven conference games the team will play, those being Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida. We have a chance at winning seven games in total, the other four being Illinois, Miami (OH), Buffalo, and Washington. I’m not saying we are going bowling, but I do think this team will produce more in the last two seasons. And for Greg Robinson’s sake they sure better. Really all any of us are looking for is a competent offence, close games, and more wins than last year. If he does this, we will see Ol’ GRob make it to season four. For the first time in a couple of years, I have a feeling we will not be any part of last place in the Big East Conference. Either way, I am optimistic and looking forward to another great season of college football, and another big season in the Big East.
UPDATE (8/6): Tom Ferron (351yds, 30rec, 2TD), the junior tight end and leading receiver for the Orange in 2006 has quit the team. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports that he stated his wish to Coach Robinson to quit before the 2006 season, but after reporting to training camp, decided to stick out the season. This will put fifth year senior J.J. Nesheiwat most likely in the starting TE role. The tight end core will also include Arthur Kapalanga who has game experience, Kyle Bell, Nick Provo, and Darnell Pratt. Coach Robinson has also moved DE Mike Owen to tight end as well.
This should impact the Orange very little. Although Ferron was the leading receiver for the Orange last season we now have a completely healthy and solid receiver core, lead by Taj Smith. JJ Nesheiwat also looked fine last year and will fill the opening slot nicely.
Editor’s Note: The following analysis of the team is pending an utter and total collapse before the start of the season, as well as during the season. If something does happen… Matt Glaude did it.