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Monday Morning QB - 11/9/09

I do not have a man-crush on Greg Paulus. I swear!

Editor’s Note: The following article is a weekly feature from Orange::44 correspondent John Brennan (twitter @jbren) that runs every Monday morning called Monday Morning Quarterback, assessing the quarterback situation of Syracuse football.

Welcome to the eleventh edition of Monday Morning Quarterback here at Orange::44.

OK Haters, you’re not gonna like this article. So if you hate Greg Paulus, why don’t you just scroll down and check out that crying child. And don’t forget to notify your local police department of your recent change of address. You could pick up criminal charges for not notifying them.

Greg Paulus started this game against Pittsburgh. Ryan Nassib ended it. What happened in between was a shitshow. A drubbing. A show of less than mediocrity. After Doug Marrone’s impassioned defense of Greg Paulus last Monday, we knew that he’d be sticking by his guns and throwing Greg out there. Yet, there was that uncertainty in the air, with the sudden departure of Mike Williams from the team. How would the quarterbacks respond to having no star to throw to?

Well, the answer at first, much like in the game two weeks ago against Akron, was to let Delone Carter have a career day. And this was a solid strategy, as DC3 ran for big plays of 58 and 24 yards in the first quarter. Give him credit, he ended the day with 143 yards on 17 carries. However, Pitt was smart enough to pick up on this strategy, and made adjustments on their defense. As the game dragged on, the holes Carter saw early on filled up like a porn star at a gangbang. Syracuse, however, failed to really make any adjustments at all in this game.

Except for who was playing quarterback. For much of the first half, it seemed as though Paulus and Nassib were trading snaps. I didn’t keep a tally, but I think Paulus had slightly more snaps in the first half. I did, however, keep a tally in the second half. By my count, second half snaps were 25 to Ryan Nassib, and 18 to Greg Paulus. But up until that final drive by Nassib, in which Syracuse scored its only touchdown of the game, the snap count was pretty even.

So what happened for those snaps for each quarterback? For the game, Paulus was 12 of 18 for 120 yards and two interceptions; Ryan Nassib was 5 of 16 for 21 yards and 1 interception. There’s a lot to discuss there.

Completion percentage: Paulus 67%, Nassib 31%. As a percentage of the team’s total passing yards, Paulus had 85% while Nassib had 15%. Neither had a passing touchdown. Both had interceptions; Greg with two, Ryan with one. Quite frankly, none of the interceptions were the fault of either QB at the time. So while the INTs hurt the team given the situations at the time, I will call a mulligan on all of them for purposes of comparing the QBs today.

So the bottom line in looking at the quarterbacks is this: Greg Paulus played a better game. Go ahead, boo me. Boo him. Boo Doug Marrone. The stats don’t lie.

But evaluating a quarterback is much more than looking at stats. What kind of a presence does he have on the field? Were the incompletions his fault through missed throws, or were they just flat out dropped? Or did the receiver run the wrong route? With Greg Paulus, I thought his accuracy looked much better than Nassib’s in this game. Nassib seemed like he was consistently throwing 4-5 yards away from the intended receiver, if not just totally overthrowing the pass. At least most of the time when Paulus threw the ball, someone caught it (albeit not always an Orangeman). But Nassib was so consistently missing his targets, that I begin to wonder if it wasn’t the receivers’ faults? Did they not properly run their routes? Were they too caught up in the pass coverage to get in the proper position? I don’t know, because I wasn’t calling the plays; but I think the bottom line is that Nassib wasn’t able to adjust to what he was seeing in front of him before he threw the ball. I’d like to give Paulus the leg-up in this area, but we’ve seen the number of bad decisions he’s made this year. So. Yeah.

Speaking of calling the plays: I’m getting really frustrated with the game SU calls on offense. Those of us who suffered through the later Pasqualoni years with the “run, run, pass, punt” scheme thought we knew frustration. Now here we are seeing play-calling that is just way too conservative, way too ineffective, and way too illogical. To be fair, I know this team is decimated at virtually every position. And the coaches have to call plays that best suits the talent on the field. OK. I get that. But running a 6-yard slant on 3rd down when you need 7 for the first down; running up the middle at the end of the half when you could just take a bomb at the end zone and see what sticks. I just don’t get it sometimes. That’s not a talent issue. That’s a coaching issue. Alabama and Texas don’t get to the top of the BCS by playing conservatively. You can be a little conservative once you get there, but not when you’re dead last in the Big East. Take a chance. Ask the cute girl to the prom. Jeez.

Well, I don’t know where this team goes from here. With three games left, and three more wins needed to quality for a post-season bowl game, I guess it’s fair to call the remainder of the schedule “must-wins.” And to that end, harking back to what Doug Marrone says every week about his personnel, he plays the students who are best suited to win the game for the team. So, who are these students? More importantly for purposes of this article, who is that quarterback?

My money is on Greg Paulus. He starts on Saturday at Louisville. Since the pre-season, I think we’ve all pretty much pegged this Louisville game as a win. Due in large part to the fact that Syracuse simply has had Louisville’s number the past few seasons. But not overlooking the fact that the Cardinals are just that bad. Bad enough to lose against a Syracuse team looking for some direction. Greg Paulus has proven himself a winner, and his performance against a really tough Pittsburgh team I think reinforces that. Ryan Nassib needs to spend all week getting some chemistry with the receivers. You’d really think this receiving corps would step up, with each receiver having an opportunity to take that star power that once belonged to Mike Williams. Nobody took that opportunity against Pittsburgh; and if nobody steps up against Louisville, they might as well just phone it in the rest of the season. Like the Pitt game, I expect Nassib to get a large number of snaps, especially if the game gets out of hand (either way) or if Paulus shits in a can again. But right now, I am as confident in Paulus as Doug Marrone is, for him to be the quarterback that can best put this team in a position to win.

The Weekly QB Watch
Going into the upcoming game against the Louisville Cardinals, the probability of starting is as follows:
Greg Paulus – 90%
Ryan Nassib – 10%
Cam Dantley – 0%
Charley Loeb – 0%
Other – 0%
Don’t wanna waste his red shirt, but I kinda wanna see Charley Loeb out there. Maybe next year.

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