Editor’s Note: The following article is a weekly feature from Orange::44 correspondent John Brennan (twitter @jbren) that runs every Monday morning during the football season called Monday Morning Quarterback, assessing the quarterback situation of Syracuse football.
Welcome to the fourteenth and final edition of Monday Morning Quarterback for the 2009 season here at Orange::44.
Greg Paulus was the starting quarterback for Syracuse for the first eleven games. The twelfth, and final game, against UConn, would also belong to him. Paulus ended the season, and ended his career, with possibly his best game. Greg threw 24 of 32 for a whopping 296 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was also the team’s second leading rusher, with 28 yards.
Still, he was sharing snaps with Ryan Nassib. Stat-wise, Nassib had a pretty good game too, with 7 of 9 for 64 yards and a touchdown pass of his own. However, he also lost 19 yards on the ground. Throughout this game, it seemed pretty clear to me who the better quarterback was, and which QB would put this team in the best position to win the game. Unfortunately, the coaching staff still had “packages” for Nassib. More often than not, Nassib was in the game to hand off the ball, or to run an option play. The option was very ineffective in this one, including a decent pitch from Nassib to Delone Carter that was bobbled, recovered by UConn, and brought in for a defensive touchdown. While I applaud the coaches for digging the option out of the playbook and switching things up, it was pretty evident the past couple weeks that the QBs, the backs, and the line are not very comfortable with it.
In the absence of a superstar receiver, Greg and Ryan really got the ball to whomever they could. In total on Saturday, 10 different Orangemen had receptions. The most frequent targets were Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales (140 yards and 89 yards, respectively). To have a team that versatile really says something about how this team has evolved and how it has adjusted how it does things in the face of adversity (injuries, cry baby quitters, etc.). Lemon (freshman) and Sales (sophomore) are young, so if this game – and really, their level of play the past couple weeks – is any indication of what they could be capable of, then I think the receiving corps will be all right moving into the future. One more note about the receivers: Greg Paulus found Lavar Lobdell for a touchdown in the 4th quarter, for Lobdell’s first (and ultimately only) touchdown reception of his career. Paulus and Lobdell were teammates back at Christian Brothers Academy, and it seems fitting that they both end their college careers finally hooking up for a touchdown. Congratulations!
So the 2009 campaign is in the books. If you were to ask me, “John, do you think the Greg Paulus experiment was successful? Was it worth it?” well, then, I could have to answer each in the affirmative. Greg Paulus ends the year with the greatest number of completions in a season in Syracuse history, and the best completion percentage in a season in Syracuse history. He has, as Coach K said a few weeks back, left his DNA on this football program (CSI is checking it out with those special lights). He has been the leader of this team; he has shown a great work ethic; he has shared his knowledge with others. And he, along with Head Coach Doug Marrone, reinvigorated a dilapidated program. Now, sure, he wasn’t perfect. He threw an awful lot of picks, particularly given the situations. Better decision-making against Minnesota could have bumped that result into the Win column. And then what would the season have turned out to be? Would we have been waiting by our TVs to find out which bowl Syracuse would be going to? Who knows – this is the stuff of imagination. But let’s say Greg Paulus never comes to Syracuse. Let’s say Ryan Nassib, who was the main guy coming out of the Spring practices, is the 2009 Quarterback for Syracuse University. Would Syracuse have won four games? More? Less? Of course, we’ll never know, but I’ll offer my two cents. Less. Time and time again, Ryan Nassib proved to me that he cannot be the consistent, every-snap quarterback this team needs. He’s too inaccurate. That’s it and that’s all. Maybe this is something he can work on during the off-season and be better next year? I don’t know.
And that does bring us to next year. Who will be the face of the 2010 Orangemen? I guess by default, right now you have to say Ryan Nassib. But, as I’ve been hinting at for the past several weeks, you’ve got to believe Charley Loeb is in the mix. As a redshirt freshman next year, if he’s any good, he will have the opportunity to begin to build a mighty legacy at Syracuse. I think nearly every Syracuse fan finally believes this program is heading in the right direction. Charley Loeb could be the next piece to that puzzle.
The Weekly QB Watch
Based upon absolutely nothing except my gut feeling, the probability of starting the 2010 season is as follows:
Charley Loeb – 99%
Ryan Nassib – 0%
Other – 1%
Evidently, I don’t like Ryan Nassib.
Author’s note: This is the final Monday Morning Quarterback for the 2009 football season. It’s been fun. Thank you all for logging on each Monday morning (or whenever) to read me ramble on. I hope I will have the opportunity to bring the column back for the 2010 campaign. So, until spring practice, look for my other content here at Orange::44, and as always, GO ORANGE!