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Yeah, I looked like this in front of my TV too.
Syracuse looked to pick up a win against one of the weaker non-conference games in the slate of five that together was ruled the hardest in the nation. Syracuse entered Minnesota hoping for a competitive game and a nice win to put the team at .500. Alas, Syracuse came and played their worst game of the season. Which is odd because it's the fourth game. Minnesota wins 17 to 10.
Ryan Nassib (21/31, 228yds, 1 TD, 2 INT) had his worst game of the season, including throwing a pick in the end zone. While, overall, he did not play his worst game of his career, he did manage to really hurt Syracuse's chances in closing the scoring gap between Syracuse and Minnestoa. I could go on about the good work the running backs did (other than fumbles), or how Marcus Sales is still fantastic. But what matters is that for three consecutive drives the ball was coughed up to Minnestoa. It happened for various reasons, but no major D-1 program can cough up the ball in three consecutive drives and be called anything close to good.
Syracuse's defense was average to good. They stopped them nine out of 15 times on third down. They also tackled better in this game, even though the secondary seemed to regress (although maybe it just looks like they did as they were playing a much better passing team than Stony Brook). Either way, a passable but not great or elite effort.
Special Teams
Ross Krautman went back to making all of his one attempts and his extra point. Punting, punt returning, and kick and kick coverage was much better this game. Nothing really bad to report.
Marcus Sales is a certified stud receiver. Maybe the game plan should be to run some plays designed to get the ball Marcus Sales' direction before late in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the red zone play calling is still not up to snuff, which is probably the most troubling of all. Additionally, Syracuse fans that are students of history should know better than anyone that the "Run, Run, Pass, Punt" offense doesn't work. Yet, Syracuse continued to utilize that series in various drives, only to put the ball to Minnesota. We talked about Doug Marrone in the Nunes/Magician podcast here (which you should listen to) and most of the mistakes on the field are not Doug's fault, or his staff's. But we're getting to the point where the coaching is clearly not putting Syracuse in a position to win the game. That is a disturbing trend when this is not Doug's first go around anymore.
C (2.06)
Syracuse played stinko in this game. Bottom line, Syracuse looked the worst it's been all season. There are no excuses for how Syracuse played and sadly they lost a winable game. Which are the worst kinds of games to lose. Hell, this team beat the spread on then #2 USC only a couple weeks before. Brutal.
Syracuse now has a much needed bye week before taking on Pittsburgh in a Friday Night Big East affair in the Carrier Dome. Hopefully they come out firing. And no one really knows which Pittsburgh team shows up either. Fun stuff. Or soul crushing. Yes... soul crushing.


BlogPoll 2012 - Week 4

* Biggest tumble is Oklahoma losing to K State. Biggest jump is the Fighting Irish up six spots after beating Michigan. They fall seven.

* Mississippi State jumps in at 25 with UCLA falling out of the poll.

* No, I'm a few more games away from even considering ranking Rutgers.

* Clemson only falls four spots after losing to a very good Florida State team.

* Oregon jumps LSU to take the #2 spot. They had a far more impressive win and I agree with the actual AP voters on that one. FSU might jump LSU if they keep winning like they are.

As always, leave a comment if you think something is crazy or I didn't drop a team that clearly lost.

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Cue The Crying Child...

That game was ugly. Real ugly. Like this photo.

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Minnesota Quick Predictions

Yeah, this one is my favorite of the year so far.
Syracuse has earned their first win of the year. They now travel to Minnesota to play in their first true road game of the season. Minnesota is a program rebuilding like Syracuse. They are also undefeated. Can the Orange pick up a big road win and get even on the season?
Yes, Minnesota is undefeated at 3-0. But the illustrious teams they have beaten were 1-AA New Hampshire, Western Michigan, and an OT win against UNLV. Gangbusters. That's not to say that this Minnesota team isn't dangerous. Oh... what's that? Their starting QB is out? Oh. Well, backup Max Shortell will be playing, and is actually a better pocket passer than their starter. However, he is not nearly as elusive in the pocket and mobile. That means if the Syracuse defense can pressure him and get through the Gophers' offensive line, Syracuse will be in a good position to win the game. Syracuse just needs to take care of the ball (Minnesota is top ten in pass efficiency defense with six picks). Absolutely dumb mistakes hampered Syracuse's efforts in the last game against Stony Brook. Additionally, Syracuse is last in the nation at punt return yardage allowed. Syracuse's offense is one of the best and will find success at Minnesota, but if they prevent turnovers and huge punt returns when they can't advance the ball, Syracuse will win this game handily. If not, well Syracuse will keep Minnesota undefeated and will drop to 1-3. I'll pick Syracuse in this one to earn a nice road win over the Gophers 34 to 17.
Tonight's game is an evening affair under the lights at 8:00pm, available on the Big Ten Network. Not sure what I'll be doing, and John will be drinking on a beer tour, so either way catch the game if you can but don't expect much out of us tonight.

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Yeah, I felt like that on a few moments too Doug.
Syracuse earned their first win in 11 months. Yes, it was against a 1-AA team, but that was a 1-AA team that was loaded with former 1-A players, and far better than Youngstown State (sorry Pittsburgh). While it was not pretty for a good chunk of it, it was a win. And a pretty dominate performance in the second half, except for touchdowns. Syracuse won 28 to 17, but this was a frustrating game for the viewers.
Yes, Syracuse earned 549 total yards, converted 8-16 third downs, and picked up 27 total. But Syracuse was within mere yards of the end zone twice in the second half and were stuffed. The second time they were within a food and managed to lose a few yards on the play. That is inexcusable and unacceptable against a 1-AA team, no matter what team they are. Again, Ryan Nassib (22/35, 335yds, 3 TD, 0 INT) played a great game, and Marcus Sales (5 rec, 117yds, 23.4 avg, 1 TD) continues to be the best offensive player not named Nassib. Price Tyson-Gulley, Jarrod West, and even Ashton Broyld all had good games as well. Overall a good effort for the offense, but the C+ is really for the goal line stands and the big fumble made by Tyson-Gulley.
Tackling continues to be an issue for Syracuse. Again, not so much in the open, and on receivers, but really after first contact by the Syracuse defense on running plays, no running back has seemed to go down. Credit due to RBs Maysonet and Coker for Stony Brook. They could start on some 1-A teams out there. Anyway, moral of the story is the Syracuse run defense is still underperforming. Additionally, the secondary had some major lapses in coverage, and were it not for Stony Brook's QB either overthrowing and underthrowing, or the receivers just plain not catching the balls, Syracuse would have been in even more trouble in this game. Limiting SBU to 3-11 yards and 3-13 on third down conversions is pretty good and playing as expected though.
Special Teams
Overall coverage was fine, punting was good, and returns were good. But, Ross Krautman missed both of his field goal attempts. One of which hit right off one of the uprights. BOOOOONNNNNGGG! 6 points off the board, just like that.
The offensive plan was good, like it has been. I even like the calls to go for it on 4th and goal each time they did that. You should have been able to score against 1-AA Stony Brook all of those times. They didn't, but that's more on the players than coaches. I would have liked to have seen the plays varied in those two goal line series, but other than that it was a solid coaching job today.
B- (2.68)
Syracuse beat Stony Brook. They should have crushed them, and not have trailed at the half. Either way, not too many complaints when it comes down to it.
D to Time Warner Cable / ESPN Regional for not putting a camera for the television broadcast on the 50 yard line. I mean seriously? And yes, that was really my only complaint on the day.
Syracuse next takes on Big Ten foe Minnesota at Minnesota this weekend in a primetime game. Now that Syracuse has earned their first win, can they use this to spur on another one? We'll find out this weekend.


BlogPoll 2012 - Week 3

*A new #1 on my ballot since USC lost to the Cardinal. Alabama is by far and away #1. How could you argue otherwise?

*USC falls to #8. Also, Florida State jumps Georgia after posting a shutout win.

*New to the poll is Florida, who beat Tennessee, and Notre Dame, who took down Sparty.

*Wisconsin drops out, as does Arkansas, who probably should have been out last week.

*Hokies fall after losing to Pittsburgh. Wait... who? Pittsburgh?

Anything crazy? Leave a comment before Wednesday, as per usual.

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Cue That Smiling Child...

It wasn't pretty, but it is the first win of the season.

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Stony Brook Quick Predictions

It's a stretch but I actually like the pic this week.
Syracuse is 0-2. Stony Brook is 2-0. But Everything is relative when you take a look at the circumstances. Syracuse is looking for a huge home win and the first of the season. Stony Brook is looking for the biggest win in program history and a National Championship.
Stony Brook is a good to great 1-AA (FCS) team that just pushed around Division II Pace 77-7. But this is A FBS team playing FBS. Players for Syracuse will be bigger, faster, and stronger. However, the talent might be closer than Syracuse fans will want to believe. Size is the major difference however. Which bodes well for Syracuse running game, pass protection, and run stopping. Also, in one on one coverage in the secondary between smaller SBU receivers and Syracuse's pass defense. But passing is not this Stony Brook team's forte. The running game is, after running for 523 yards against Pace. But seriously, this preview writes itself. Syracuse has one of the best offenses in the nation right now (did I really just type that?). Syracuse should be highly competitive in this one and SBU should face a lot of 3rd down conversion failures. The Seawolves only attempted 7 passes in their last game after all. When you can run the ball why would you pass? I agree, but they have to against Syracuse and they haven't really had a lot of practice. Look for some success from SBU in the trickery department, but Syracuse should win this one nicely. Syracuse over SBU 34 to 10.
This game will be available locally on TWCS, SNY, anywhere Big East Regional games are shown, and ESPN 3 if you are outside of New York State at 4:00pm EST. Should be a fun one. Certainly more fun than UNH or Maine the last couple of years. I'm at the home office today, but John Brennan is on hand. As always, check out some of the tweets.

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This is about as close as you're gonna get to seeing 44 on a field.
Syracuse entered MetLife Stadium with a reasonable expectation of playing well. I think they accomplished that. This game was actually pretty close for most of it. But USC's talent ruled the day, and Syracuse came up short. But they did not embarrass themselves (save for that first offensive series) against #2, and so that deserves some credit. Syracuse falls to USC 42 to 29 but this was close for a long time.
In the end, Syracuse earned more yards (455), first downs (27), and converted 2-2 on fourth down attempts than USC. But, this is statistics deceiving you. USC had a higher time of possession and scored more. That means they had bigger plays, not needing as many first downs to move down the field. Either way, Syracuse's offense played pretty well against a tough USC team. Ryan Nassib (30/46, 322, 2 TD, 2 INT) had the day most people thought he would, falling back to earth after a ridiculous effort against Northwestern. Marcus Sales (8rec, 104yds, 13avg, 2 TD) again proved the best target. This guys will probably make it to the next level. The running was again spread out, but got the job done as the team rushed for 133 yards. All in all a solid, but not spectacular effort.
They were asked to stop Heisman front runner Matt Barkley. They did for a while, keeping USC scoreless in the first quarter, and stopping USC on 4th down twice in the game. But They just proved too much for the Orange. While they put in a good effort, failing to actually wrap and tackle people is a problem for this Orange team, despite some pretty great open field tackles from #SHAMARKO Thomas, among others. Either way, yards after contact for opponents need to be minimized in the future. But a solid effort from the defense considering they were playing #2.
Special Teams
No major calamities I would say.Kick returns, punting, and kicking all were fine. Punt returns could use some work, and the coverage, as always, could be better, but this was a better outing than against Northwestern.
Penalties were minimized this week, which was a welcomed breath of fresh air. Especially playing this team on this stage. First week jitters may have been to blame against Northwestern, but this team locked it down much more this week. Again there was the puzzling move of Doug Marrone not going for it on 4th down with about eight minutes to go down by only 13 points. He explained his rational in the Post-Standard but Conservative Doug reared his ugly head again. It's against USC. You're not supposed to win. Might as well go for it buddy, right?
C+/B- (2.56)
Overall, they played a tough team and fared pretty well. This was not an embarrassing loss by any means. You only lost to #2 by 13 and beat the spread. There is something to be said for moral victories.
No intangibles this week. We look ahead to 1-AA Stony Brook coming into the Carrier Dome this weekend  for what should be an easy win. They are a pretty good 1-AA team, but Syracuse is not Pittsburgh. We'll have full previews tomorrow, as always. Until then, take comfort that Syracuse played against USC and actually did well.



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