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Monday Morning Quarterback 11/29/10

This just in: the bowl game won't be in the Carrier Dome
When your team is bad, you get used to them playing poorly. When your team is good but plays poorly, well, that's pretty damn frustrating. Such is the story of the 2010 Syracuse Orange, who met or exceeded everyone's expectations this year, are going to a bowl game, and yet have all bit fizzled out in the month of November. The latest setback was this Saturday in the regular season finale, losing -- at home -- against Boston College 16-7.
As has been the case since pretty much the beginning of October, the offense just couldn't get much of anything going. This was especially true in the first half, when Syracuse was shut out. Ryan Nassib, starting his 12th game for the Orange and who can no longer be called inexperienced, had another typical Ryan Nassib day. He was 15 of 24 passing (63%) for only 147 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. I could dwell on him being hurried all day, throwing errant balls, balls being dropped, etc. But really, I think the two biggest reasons the Syracuse offense (particularly Nassib) couldn't get much of anything going were: time of possession (they just didn't have the ball much), and Delone Carter getting hurt. Antwon Bailey stepping up into the main rushing role was fine, but that really turned the offensive gameplay upside down. And Boston College figured it out.
Marcus Sales had another good game, with Nassib often finding him in a slant wide open for gains of 5-10 yards each. I was actually surprised at the stats when I saw them: Sales only had five catches for 73 yards. That, of course, puts him on the hook for half of Syracuse's passing yards. The other passing targets were the usual suspects, with Bailey, Van Chew, and Nick Provo all registering more than one catch each.
So when you take a dimension like Carter out of your playbook, the rest of your playcalling becomes more conservative. And when the playcalling of Head Coach Doug Marrone is conservative to begin with, well, this doesn't make the fans too happy. Case in point was 5:22 left in the 4th quarter, Syracuse down 16-7 facing a 4th down, two to go from its own 29 yard line. Syracuse punts to a thinning crowd of boos. I shared the disappointment. Not that your offense is doing a great job of moving the ball, but you have to give them a chance to win! At 5:22 there's no guarantee you get the ball back if your defense can hold; plus, you need two scores. Punting in that situation says "I don't want to win the game." Sure, there's the argument that if you go for it and don't make it, you're giving up field position that will at least result in BC scoring 3. But at that point you can say the game is out of reach anyway, so why not just go for it?
OK, that was my rant that had very little to do about the QB situation, other than to say Marrone had little confidence in his offense. So now, we wait. We wait for this coming weekend to find out which bowl game we're going to (I'm still hoping for Pinstripes myself). We wait to see who we're playing in said bowl game. And we wait for Doug Marrone to prepare the crap out of his team so we can end this season without such a sour taste in our mouths.
Monday Morning Quarterback will now be on hiatus for the next few weeks. Check back the Monday before our bowl game, and the Monday following our game, for all your quarterbacky analysis. And of course, keep coming here to Orange::44 for all other things Syracuse, including all the basketball updates you'd ever want!

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