The offense actually started out well. Syracuse managed to sustain their first drive to put there in field goal range, where Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle kicked a field goal to put Syracuse up 3-0 (He can no longer be given the nickname “Fat Ass” because he has slimmed down, but he has made an unfortunate choice in facial hair for his official department photo, therefore this will be his new nickname this year. Jump on board. H/T to JBren. Also, as Ben said “I want to know whatever the Pat Shadle diet is and get on it.”). After that drive, there was an exercise in futility. Andrew Robinson had a terrible day (14/28, 103yds, 0TD, 1INT) as he continually overthrew balls. He also let the team get a safety by throwing the ball away while in the end zone (Read: I can’t believe he got a fucking safety. A SAFTEY?!?). He also threw his interception for a Northwestern touchdown. He threw to the receiver’s inside shoulder where a defender was cutting across, rather than to his outside shoulder away from the defender or over the top. This is an execution mistake that should not be happening at this point in his career at Syracuse. The second half of the game was terrible as Syracuse could not get anything going or gain any momentum. Drives continually stalled and it looked like vintage pathetic Syracuse. The one bright spot was the return of a running game that actually gained some yardage. Between RB’s Curtis Brinkley, Delone Carter, and Doug Hogue they managed to gain 117 rushing yards, which is a vast improvement over last season. Due to this, several play action plays resulted in big gains and first downs in the first half. While the offensive line was not stellar, you could see improvement from last season, which was slightly refreshing. Only converting three third down opportunities was par for the course compared to last year however. Due to ARob’s bad day, and the futility in the second half however, that results in a D+ for the offense, the unit that needed to improve more to be able to put points on the board.
The defense actually was not that bad. I know that sounds somewhat crazy considering the outcome, but honestly they did well. LB Derrell Smith had an interception, there was a forced fumble, a fumble recovery inside the ten, and several other strong plays. However, they left between the numbers open quite a bit for big pass plays including two touchdowns in which no Syracuse player was even near a Northwestern receiver. The defensive guru strikes again. Similarly with the offense, there was visible improvement on defense but not enough to change the outcome. Because of some great plays and points off turnovers, I cannot in good conscience give them a terrible grade though.
The punter was phenomenal, pinning the team behind the ten for many drives in the first half. Yup, I am talking about Northwestern’s punter. Our punter was not bad, however he was not spectacular. Rob Long punted seven times for a total of 330yds, having two behind the 20 and the longest being 72yds. The players made a great effort to keep a few out of the end zone for a touchback but could not. The punter however did get a 30 yard (ridiculously punitive) penalty for the punt after the safety. Just great. Max Suter was not as spectacular as he was last year. The magic seems to be worn off. He did fine, but nothing spectacular. Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle (yes it does not flow as well, but it is hilarious to me) had a fine day, earning a 36 yard field goal, and an extra point. He also just missed a 51 yard attempt by hitting the post. He did have the distance though and I was impressed with the attempt. Overall not a bad day but not a great day.
Why, when you are losing by two scores or more, with less than fine minutes in the forth quarter, would you ever punt the ball away? Answer: you shouldn’t. No, at the very least you go for it to see what your team is made of. If they can handle that situation and get a first down when they need to and the game is on the line, that is a good thing to find out. Greg Robinson elected to punt. Also, why did Syracuse not try for some longer passes? It seemed like all they could ever do go for the receiver 4 yards past the line of scrimmage, even when it was 3rd and 20. Also, it gets a little predictable when you run on every first down. Some play action or even just starting in a shotgun formation once in a while would probably not be as predictable. I guess these things make too much sense.
Yes, all the above observations are true. But the main issue I see with this team, which was present last year but did not seem to get addressed in the off season, was the conditioning of the team. In the first half the team looked crisp, focused, and high energy. The second half the team clearly looked flat and unmotivated. This is a major issue because I think we all know that the defense will be on the field a lot, and they need to at least finish the game even when they are tired. But, at the end of the day, this loss has to fall on Andrew Robinson’s bad day and his mistakes. They team could not sustain any scoring drives in the second half. The team needed to come out with a vastly improved offense and it was only marginally improved. I hope the team can grow as the season does, but it appears that it will be another year of some rough football to watch as the start of the year was not a good outing for the Orange.
You may have noticed the song lyrics above. A new componant of the football postgame reactions will be some lyrics that best sum up the current situation. In this case, the lines form the opening to Viva La Vida perfectly sum up the Syracuse legacy. Once proud, this program is now in shambles. It is a sad commentary on the current situation. Syracuse will have their hope opener next Saturday at 3:30pm versus Akron. At least it is a perfect tailgate start. Syracuse will look to build on their successes and limit their mistakes. Hopefully ARob will also get his head in the game and be more focused and come out mistake free in front of the home fans. As always, stay tuned for more game coverage right here at Orange::44 and I hope you enjoyed that Northwestern game with a cold beer and a bitter heart.
Because of the simple fact that I have no clue what film Northwestern can study on Syracuse, I think we will surprise them. We have a new offense this year, running backs that really didn’t play last year that are pretty good, and a hopefully improved offensive line. Therefore, I believe we will catch Northwestern off guard in the first half of the game and surprise them with offense. I think we will manage to hold them off, but just barely in the second half. I predict a Syracuse win by 4 points. If I’m wrong, you’ll see the Orange::44 trademark crying child by 4:00pm on Saturday. If not, hey… awesome. I’ll be watching tomorrow live on ESPN 2 at 12:00pm. Until next time, Go Orange!
1. Orange::44: Are Northwestern fans excited to start the season and what is the general outlook of the team for the year?
LTP: As excited as we've been since the 2001 season when we were coming off a Big Ten title...We're loaded at the offensive skill positions. with CJ Bacher (QB) and Tyrell Sutton (RB) and WRs Eric Peterman, Ross Lane, Andrew Brewer and Rasheed Ward leading the way. The OL is the big question mark. Our "D" has been awful most of this decade, but there is optimism since we landed DC, Mike Hankwitz this off-season (as well as a new OC, Mick McCall). This is about as excited as our fan base gets.
2. Orange::44: How does the average Northwestern fan view the upcoming game and what are your predictions for the outcome?
LTP: A little bit of disbelief based on the 12 point spread. We haven't run the table in non-conference sinc 1963 despite winning 3 Big Ten titles since 1995, so we never take an OOC team for granted. Cautiously optimistic would be best categorization.
3. Orange::44: What players will give Syracuse the most fits, offensive or defensive?
LTP: As you know we run the spread and led the Big Ten in offense last year. The spread is going no-huddle, which will likely give SU fits as we have so many weapons at wideout, but the zinger is Tyrell Sutton has the best hands of any RB and is a huge threat as a WR. When we get clicking on "O" it is tough to stop us.
4. Orange::44: This is one of the opening games of the college football season on national television. Will the atmosphere in the stadium be rocking?
LTP: Hardly. Unfortunately we suffer from the private school in a major market syndrome. We only have 8000 undergrads and the school is on the trimester system, meaning school doesn't start for 3 MORE WEEKS! There will be no band, no student section. Will look TERRIBLE on TV. Don't hold it against us...we start out well in September, we'll be filling the 47,000+ stadium in October.
5. Orange::44: What is the one thing about Northwestern, both the school and the football team, that most people should know about?
LTP: Fitz [Coach Pat Fitzgerald] does things the right way. Fans are truly proud of the kids and we usually enjoy seeing them on-camera as they represent us so well. The hang your hat on stat I like to pull out to show we deserve respect is that only Michigan and Ohio State have more Big Ten titles then we do since 1995.
6. Orange::44: What is the best tradition Northwestern has?
LTP: Lake the Posts is named after an embarrassing tradition of ripping down the field goal posts after essentially ANY win in what we call the Dark Ages (1973-1994) which ended when Gary Barnett came to town in 1992 and cemented the posts. After the wins, fans would march the posts down Central street to Lake Michigan and throw them in, aka "laking" them. The best tradition we have is the Sweet Sioux rivalry with in-state rival Illinois, however, starting next year we will no longer play them on the final weekend for reasons I don't understand.
Tomorrow, Orange::44 will rekindle the chat that I and the fine folks at Lake The Posts had in preparation for Saturday’s game, so look for that tomorrow.
Connecticut was in a similar position as Georgetown several years ago. UConn was a D1-AA school, a fledgling program with an ugly on campus stadium that barely would impress Coventry High School. The students were scarcely into football and basically used them to get real shitty real fast. In 2000 the team jumped to D1-A, and then finally joined the Big East Conference as a full football member in 2004 after the entire Big East/ACC fiasco. Since then Syracuse and Connecticut have traded wins on each other’s home stadiums.
As you may have noted, I did mention that I do have some love for Connecticut’s football squad. Now before you jump down my throat like a good Syracuse fan should for me having put the words “love” and “Connecticut” in the same sentence, I do not really mean that I love UConn. On the contrary, I loathe them with as much passion as any Syracuse fan would, if not more. The truth is I have a long and tawdry history with that school in Storrs.
While the sordid details are not worth diving into anymore, it will suffice to say I used to venture on weekends from the virtuous and just hamlet of Syracuse, New York, and drive the four hours to that god forsaken land that claims to be “The Constitution State”, specifically near Storrs, Connecticut all too often in my undergraduate days. At the time I actually managed to enjoy the people I talked to at UConn. Despite popular belief, not everyone at UConn is a complete and utter douche bag. Some of them are actually decent and fun people. I managed to even get to a few Connecticut games not involving my beloved Orange. While I enjoy college football enough to just go to a game no matter who is playing, I realized that I was getting googly eyes for Rentschler Field (“The Rent”), and UConn and it was not good. Therefore I had to recommit myself to not getting fooled by UConn’s bullshit.
I mean, how fair is it that UConn, a state school, gets $90 million to upgrade their facilities. This means that a majority of State Representatives and Senators in the state of Connecticut (most of which actually graduated from UConn [conflict of interest much?] ), and then the Governor, agreed to give $90 million (yes, that’s $90,000,000) of taxpayer money, I’m guessing most of which could give two shits about college football, to the University of Connecticut to build a new football complex. You’re supposed to get money for that stuff through alumni donations (using their own money, not taxes), and you know, winning a few games (although I will say that the inside of the Press Box at the stadium is quite enjoyable).
Adding insult to injury, which is often overlooked, Randy Edsall, the head coach of Connecticut, is a Syracuse man. He played, graduated from, and then coached at Syracuse. While UConn was certainly not a football rival to Syracuse in those days, there has to be something about this that just does not sit right with him otherwise the man has no soul. I know I could not take a job at UConn and sleep at night. I did almost apply to the UConn law school, but I felt if I got in I would look myself in the mirror everyday and think “God do I suck”. Thus, I took the high road and ended up in Springfield where I am much happier. Either way, anyone that goes to Syracuse undergrad and ends up at UConn has some serious issues (talking to you Abby on this one).
I hate the fact that UConn was good last year. WTF was that about? They are picked to finish 7th in the league and they play WVU for the conference title? Of course they rightly got vanquished by the boys from Morgantown, but the simple fact they were there is asinine. I mean, they even made it to a bowl game (which they promptly lost). Actually, that last part isn’t so bad. Either way, it was complete bullshit. They had no business being good.
Then there was this nonsense…
I have written about this before, so there is no use getting into the entire thing again, but those referees blew that call. That UConn ass hole should have known better. This was basically condoned cheating.
You know what else really grinds my gears, the cupcake schedule they always play. Hofstra, at Temple, Virginia, Baylor, at North Carolina are the extent of their non-conference schedule in this upcoming season. They played Maine, Duke, Temple, Akron, and Virginia last year. Seriously? Say what you want about Syracuse, but they have traditionally not played cupcakes. While that has been possibly to the detriment to Syracuse’s win/loss record, at least we get interesting games (i.e. a game that is at least 50% pleasurable to watch).
Briefly, this notebook has also chronicled the various encounters the football players at UConn have had with the local law enforcement in Connecticut. Too numerous to mention again, it will suffice to say that it is not a good idea to bring a stolen credit card to Wingz Over Storrs and then when you get caught punch the manager.
That “Sometimes Love” nonsense has turned to full on hate again. More like I love to hate UConn. There are many valid reasons to yell “UConn… U SUCK!” or “UConn’s Husky” not just at someone from UConn, but just towards the direction of the state of Connecticut in general. These are just a few of mine. Connecticut is certainly not the pinnacle of Big East Football, but they are worthy of some ire from the good and rightly folks in orange. A rival is a rival, and thus a little personal, biased, good natured hate is just what the doctor ordered. So this season, if you are looking for someone to hate, and are just tired of looking at JoePa, try UConn again. It’s like a refreshing beverage; always satisfying.
Football season is just about here, which again means that I will premier my 2008 Football Prospectus, a team by team analysis of the members of the Big East Conference, starting soon. Also, this week I will start my four part series on fellow Elmira, New York native Ernie Davis leading up to the premier of The Express on September 12th. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you decide to shake off the summer cobwebs, get back into Syracuse sports, and stop by regularly here again at Orange::44.
The Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, at the direction of District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, launched an investigation into sexual assault allegations against the three players. This came after the university had heard about the alleged incident and reached an informal agreement with the players and the accuser. At that time, the District Attorney’s Office closed the matter as they felt the interest of justice was being served by the University process. However, a Dean at SU later wrote a letter stating that the alleged victim was still interested in perusing the matter, so the DA’s Office re-launched the investigation, receiving little cooperation from the accuser, and culminating most recently with the three players testifying in front of a grand jury with a waiver of immunity. This is almost never done, where the alleged perpetrators testify in front of the grand jury. Based on that testimony, and the continued lack of cooperation from the alleged victim, the District Attorney issued this letter stating that the three players have been completely exonerated and the matter was closed.
This is good news for the University, which has been battling with major sexual assault rumors since last fall. I myself has received inside news from a source in the Athletic Department that this was an issue and thought that before “Cheesesteakgate” came to light, this sexual assault business would have been the reason then. The District Attorney’s Office continued their diligent investigation and did their ethical duties to pursue the matter in the interest of justice, and after that exhaustive investigation found that the players extra curricular activities did not rise to any criminal level. The players are exonerated and Syracuse fans can now put to bed these allegations once and for all. This is good news for the team and everyone who respects Syracuse University.
Orange::44 will have continued coverage of player’s actual bad behavior later this week, with updated news from Penn State, as well as Pittsburgh. Stay tuned.