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Syracuse Football 2008 Season In Review

We all felt like this a lot of the time this season.

As I write this, it is Christmas Eve in the evening. I will soon be wrapping presents and placing them under my family’s Christmas Tree. By the time you read this, chances are it will be Friday so you will be in a much better and hopefully happier mood to absorb the dread that was this past football season.

The year, much like every year, started out with very high hopes. Everyone said that surely this team had to be better than the year before. Everyone knew that this team had no where to go but up. Surely Greg Robinson could turn this around. No.

We start out traveling to Illinois where Syracuse faced a Northwestern team that on paper looked pretty even to Syracuse. The first drive went well, putting Syracuse in field goal range, and everything started to look up. However, sadly Syracuse remembered they were Syracuse and the offense stalled. Andrew Robinson started at quarterback and finished poorly (14/28, 103yds, 0TD, 1INT) and he actually managed to get a safety by getting an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone. The Northwestern defense proved to be formidable to the unfocused and unprepared Syracuse offense. Syracuse lost 30 to ten, and earned a GPA from me of 1.63 (C-).

Then it came time to open up the season in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse was set to take on the Akron Zipps from the MAC Conference and they freaking blew it in their home stadium. The offense actually did not have a bad day with Cameron Dantley getting the start and doing well (13/20, 135yds, 3TD, 1INT), and Curtis Brinkley also had a fine day with 21 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line really showed they had improved from last season. However, what was clear was that the defense was terrible, failing to tackle just about anything. Syracuse lost this one 42 to 28 and they earned a GPA of 1.28 (D+).

After losing to Akron, nothing like renewing a storied football rivalry with a team ranked in the top 25. A day after the world premier of The Express, Syracuse took on past rival Penn State in the Carrier Dome, ranked 17th. With Dennis Quaid and Rob Brown, stars of the movie, as honorary captains, Syracuse looked dismal against the far superior team. The offense was bad, the defense was bad, the coaching was bad, and the only thing that was not bad was the special teams. Penn State obliterated Syracuse 55 to 13. Syracuse earned a GPA of .83 (D-).

The cure for what ails you; a 1-AA (FCS) Northeastern team for Homecoming. Syracuse next plays Northeastern in the Dome and hey, they got a win. The offense was pretty good, with Brinkley earned 145 yards on the ground and a touchdown and Doug Hogue having exactly 100 yards and a touchdown. But the defense was just dreadful in allowing Northeastern to get within striking distance. Syracuse won, but it was too close 31 to 20. Because this was a 1-AA team, they did not get a grade but simply a pass.

Then it was probably the worst game of the season. Syracuse had Pittsburgh beat for just about three quarters. Then they remembered that they were not a good team and allowed Pittsburgh to take the lead late in the game that they finished with. Offense was again not so bad. Dantley had a nice day (9/17, 137yds, 2 TD, 0 INT), and Brinkley finished with 119 yards on 16 carries. But the defense let Pittsburgh get right back in this game. Syracuse was full of heartbreak and sorrow in this game. Even the special teams ran back a kickoff for a touchdown. Syracuse lost however, 34 to 24. Syracuse earned a GPA of 2.56 (C+).

What a perfect time for a bye week. Syracuse then traveled to West Virginia to take on an up and down Mountaineer team. Syracuse underwhelmed again. Curtis “Boonah” Brinkley tearing off 144 yards and gaining 5.1 yards a carry against West Virginia, a defense that is fairly strong in the Big East. The offense was successful, but the defense allowed a 92 yard forth quarter run by Noel Devine to put the game out of reach for the Orange. Syracuse lost 17 to six, and earned a GPA of 2.75 (B-).

On the road again, Syracuse traveled down to a struggling USF team, ranked 19th in the nation. Similarly to us scheduling Northeastern, the Big East Gods gave USF an easy win with the Orange. USF had Syracuse’s number as the defense allowed Matt Grothe to run 72 yards for a touchdown. He’s the freaking quarterback. Curtis Brinkley had another outstanding game (20 carries, 129yds, 4.8y/c, 1 TD), but the team overall could not do much. Syracuse lost 45 to 13, and earned a 1.9 GPA (C/C-)

Another bye week and it is back to business with Louisville coming to the Dome. Syracuse owns Louisville Football. Syracuse’s second win and only Big East win came from Louisville. Dantley had a fine day (11/22, 178yds, 2 TD, 0 INT), and Brinkley finished with 166 yards and a touchdown. The defense was solid, earning an interception to seal the deal. Louisville just couldn’t beat Syracuse and Greg. Simply stunning. Syracuse wins 28 to 21 and earned a GPA of 3.05 (B).

Syracuse then followed up a nice Big East win with a nice Big East flop. Save for an 82 yard run by Doug Hogue, a run mind you that was the longest run by an SU running back since 1953, the offense was abysmal. Nothing Syracuse did on defense managed to impact anything. Syracuse had such a promising start, but then completely wavered. The Orange lost to Rutgers 35 to 17, earning a GPA of 1.35 (D+).

It was then back home for the final home game of the year. Syracuse was to play Connecticut in the Carrier Dome. At this point I don’t think anyone was under the illusion that Syracuse was winning this, but I think we all figured it would be somewhat close. Nope. Syracuse was ineffective and even special teams was terrible. This was the game that was the final nail in Greg Robinson’s coffin. Syracuse lost 39 to 14, fired Greg Robinson the next day, I drank myself silly, and Syracuse earned a GPA of 1.5 (D+).
It was then back home for the final home game of the year. Syracuse was to play Connecticut in the Carrier Dome. At this point I don’t think anyone was under the illusion that Syracuse was winning this, but I think we all figured it would be somewhat close. Nope. Syracuse was ineffective and even special teams was terrible. This was the game that was the final nail in Greg Robinson’s coffin. Syracuse lost 39 to 14, fired Greg Robinson the next day, I drank myself silly, and Syracuse earned a GPA of 1.5 (D+).

So after Syracuse got trounced by UConn they then had to go and face Notre Dame in South Bend. I maintained that Syracuse could pull an upset in this game for five reasons, and sure enough I just happened to be right. Cameron Dantley had a fine game (13/25, 122 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), the one touchdown being the game winner. The defense managed to slow or stop Notre Dame’s passing attack, and freshman Antwon Bailey had a breakout game (16 carries, 126 yds, 7.9 ypc, 1 TD). Syracuse became the first eight loss team to beat Notre Dame in history. It was a huge upset and probably Robinson’s biggest win in his four years. Syracuse beat Notre Dame 24 to 23 and earned a GPA of 3.0 (B).

Finally Syracuse, riding high off their Notre Dame win, entered #16 Cincinnati to face them in Greg’s final home game. Some would think that the players would respond and get another and final win for Greg, but it turns out all of his magic was left in South Bend. The offense only managed to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Brinkley only managed 60 yards, and the defense allowed the Bearcats to cruise to a final Big East victory. Syracuse was unremarkable in every way and finished the year just like they started, losing 30 to ten. They earn a GPA of 1.83 (C-).

Syracuse had a dismal year only racking up two real victories, one of them a conference win. They finished the year 3-9 (1-6), and they looked pretty awful most of the year. Yes, they did flash greatness once in a while, but usually it was a lot of disappointment and head shaking. No matter how they tried, they just could not execute to a competent level except those rare occasions. They finished the year with an overall GPA of 1.97, earning them a final grade of C. It just does not seem low enough though does it? Syracuse ends the Greg Robinson era, an era only seeing ten wins on four years. We now look to the future, hoping for better things, and knowing that it is only possible because we have no where to go but up.

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13 Responses to “Syracuse Football 2008 Season In Review”

  1. # Blogger John

    You seem surprised that the final GPA worked out to a C. I'm not at all surprised, because as I've been telling you from the beginning you've been too easy on these grades. Too many D's that should have been F's. Too many C's that should have been F's. Maybe then the season average would have been a D or D- like I think it should have been.

    Much like 11th grade English class, I think you need a scoring rubric to help you with what criteria is required for each grade. Just a suggestion for next year.  

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