Syracuse will be starting this season like every season; optimistic. Syracuse has a veteran QB in Ryan Nassib behind center, as well as the return of a deep threat in Marcus Sales. But will Syracuse play to potential, or again come up massively short?
Syracuse will be successful in the offensive game. Ryan Nassib completes passes. However, most of those passes were completed between 10 and 11 yards. No deep threat and no shots taken last year for the most part. A far contrast from the Pinstripe Bowl game in which we saw a flea flicker to Marcus Sales for a huge touchdown and hope that Syracuse had finally turned the corner from the horrid last coaching era that we dare not name. Not the case in 2011 as Syracuse took a pretty considerable step back, West Virginia game aside. Barely beating Wake Forrest, Akron, and Rhode Island did not spark confidence, and after the West Virginia drubbing the team regressed well past the mean. The ending at Pittsburgh was particularly maddening. But this is a new year. Sales is back on the team, even though Nick Provo and Van Chew are not. One massive target is enough for any offense to do somewhat well. Add Alec Lemon who will probably play (hopefully without a massive case of the dropsies) and that will be enough to keep some secondary players occupied. That means Jerome Smith needs to get some yards per carry. Center Macky MacPherson will be taking snaps for the Orange so hopefully the first play doesn't start with the ball going over Nassib's head to start. Either way, the offense will not be the factor in this game. The defense will be the key for the Orange if they are to achieve victory. Northwestern's top two receivers and top tight end are being replaced this season and the Northwestern pass rush is vulnerable. Chandler Jones is now on the Pats however. Syracuse needs to find success pressuring the quarterback as we all know the secondary will not bail out Syracuse. I think Syracuse will keep this game close, but Syracuse will fall to the Wildcats. The purple menace over the Orange 31 to 20.
The season starts on ESPN 2 at Noon on Saturday. I've decided to venture to the Carrier Dome from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the last minute so I'll be in the Dome with JBren and we'll be hilarious on the mobile internet Twitter machines, so enjoy all that. Also available on ESPN 3. Enjoy your weekend and Go Orange!