Countdown to Football Frustration

Next Frustrating Hoops Victory

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Cue the Smiling Child!

Don't call it a comeback... oh, wait, call it a comeback. Bulls have been tamed. Kids smile.

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South Florida Quick Predictions

A little throwback good fortune goes a long way.
Syracuse is coming off their best game of the season on a Friday. No surprise there. Syracuse loves Friday. Add in the fact that they were playing a not so great UConn team, and you had the recipe for a blowout. However, now Syracuse travels to USF to take on the Bulls hungry for their first conference win.
Syracuse is no doubt clicking on offense finally. It seems as though Syracuse has fixed their red zone woes somewhat. And they beat a pretty good defense in Connecticut last weekend. BJ Daniels, who has apparently been the QB for USF for about eight years, looks to be the Orange in Tampa after failing to do so in 2010. Once again, on another Homecoming night, Syracuse looks to spoil the South Florida faithful's evening. The defense for Syracuse is capable. The offense for Syracuse is capable. Honestly these teams are pretty even, but the question remains as to who will turn the ball over more? If BJ Daniels gets pressured, which he should be, he is pick prone. Conversely, Syracuse will be able to take some shots down the field. If Nassib can connect on some long pass plays, Syracuse should be golden. I actually like Syracuse's chances in this game. I know, it sounds weird to say for me too. I'm picking the Orange in the nice Tampa weather, 24 to 13.
This game will be at 7:00pm tonight EST, available locally in New York on TWCS, SNY, and on ESPN 3 elsewhere. I'm out of the home office, so that means you'll probably have to go without my snark. Sorry about that. But John will be in full effect. Enjoy yourselves and have a great evening.

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Fun to see that Coach P face one last time, on a different sideline.
The Orange faced a familiar face on the opposite sideline on a Friday night. I love Friday night games, but not as much as the Syracuse football team apparently. Granted, UConn isn't exactly a powerhouse. But dropping 40 points on a team that you were expected to barely beat is always fun. Syracuse beats UConn 40-10.
Offense
A-
Ryan Nassib (14/20, 251yds, 2 TD, 0 INT) had a great game. Jerome Smith had 133 yards on 19 carries, bowling over UConn players. In a feat I've never seen, Syracuse had exactly the same rush yards as passing yards with 251 each. They had 21 first downs, were 8/15 on third downs, had 502 total yards, and had the ball almost ten minutes more than UConn. They also put up 28 of Syracuse's 40 points. A great day on the field, despite a relatively slow start.
Defense
A-
-6. That's right, UConn had -6 rushing yards. Granted, sacks played a part of that, but limiting Lyle McCombs to only 16 yards on 12 carries os pretty fantastic. They forced a turnover in a fumble and picked off a late INT to stop any hope of a garbage time TD. No complaints here, except for the one UConn touchdown that was allowed due to just a terrible blown coverage in the secondary. That was just terrible. But I guess it mattered little in the long run. Either way, that earns the minus.
Special Teams
A
Ross Krautman went 4/4 on field goals, including a 47 yarder. Not to mention the great field position Syracuse often started in, and the not so great field position UConn did. Bang up job.
Coaching
A
There were no issues that came up like trying to make a comeback late in this game. The gameplan worked and was executed. Syracuse stopped practically everything thrown and ran at it. The Tank Formation and running the ball worked extremely well. All and all, Marrone and the coordinators earned their paychecks.
GPA
A (3.85)
Clearly this is the best outing of the year. While UConn is not a good team, Syracuse just played extremely well in all phases of the game. Absolutely fun to watch when a team plays this well against a team that you love to see them beat. I like when Syracuse wins. I love when Syracuse beats UConn. Sorry Coach P.
Intangibles
D- to the extra security. Not only was it unnecessary, not only did it create a long line, not only was it pretty pointless, but they didn't even really use the metal detecting wands when I got to the front of the line. So that means that there was just a long line for no reason. Thanks Carrier Dome
Syracuse likely goes out beating UConn in their final match up, not only in the conference, but probably for a good long while. Syracuse travels to South Florida for another evening affair, but this time on a Saturday. USF hasn't won a conference game yet. Syracuse's defense could stop them, or get owned. We'll find out on Saturday.

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BlogPoll 2012 - Week 8


*Sorry no deltas. I failed to submit a ballot last week.

*Rutgers finally shows up at 7-0 although they maybe only have one good win on their resume.

*Check out the list. Anything crazy like someone still high after a loss let me know. Otherwise that's what we're going with.

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Cue the Smiling Child!

Happy kids with an indifferent husky. Sorry, UConn.

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Connecticut (Not So) Quick Predictions

Do not gaze directly into Paul's eyes.
Syracuse lost last week on the road to Rutgers putting them at 1-1 in conference play. Syracuse now is backed against the wall in terms of earning wins that can keep them in a bowl hunt. Can Syracuse finally get a win against UConn in Coach P's return to the place he coached for many years?
I have a confession to make. I used to love Coach P. Growing up Syracuse's worst season would have been around seven wins. I arrived on campus at Syracuse for the 2001 season, ending up with 10 wins and a huge bowl win against Kansas State in the Insight.com Bowl in Phoenix. Then things began to slide and never got better. It was in 2004 that I started the Facebook group "I Fucking Hate Coach Fucking P". The websites popped up asking for his firing. Despite what happened under the next guy, firing Coach P was still the right move. The guy lost his recruiting edge. Syracuse slid to below average, especially offensively. He refused to fire his good friend and OC George DeLeone, who's patented "run, run, pass, punt" offense was pretty tired after all those years. P then bounced around the NFL between Dallas and Miami. I actually met him once when he was the Defensive Coordinator of Miami and he said he didn't really think about Syracuse anymore but when he did he thought about his time fondly. It was like hanging out with your favorite grandpa. I still agree he is one of the nicest coaches out there. But nice doesn't win games. And he's still hitched his offensive success to George. UConn fan tweets from this season look like what we were all saying to each other on campus in 2003. It was like a weird time warp back to my undergrad days. Stagnant offense is a pretty big feature of UConn this season. QB Chandler Whitmer has done not much in the way of impressing on opponents he is a major threat to light up the field. RB Lyle McCombs has found more success, but this is an offense that really struggles, even against just better than average defenses. It's also worth mentioning that their kicker probably should be sent to Shawshank. He missed a critical field goal in overtime against Temple last week. Yes, that Temple. That allowed the Owls to kick one for the win and they drilled it. It's also worth noting that UConn has allowed every opposing team's trip to the red zone to result in at least some points. Syracuse can only really beat themselves in this game, on paper. We all know Syracuse has had some offensive struggles of their own. If UConn can get some pressure on Nassib, he can rush throws and is not interception proof. Syracuse needs to just run the ball and then hit Marcus Sales or the Alec Lemon. It's Friday night in primetime. Syracuse loves Friday night games. If you can't get excited to be playing UConn in your last time in the Big East on a Friday night at 8:00pm you might as well hang up your pads. I think the defense will again play stellar. Ryan Nassib will manage to play well enough. But the running game should provide the key to Syracuse's success getting big gains on early downs for quick and short completions for Ryan Nassib. Pending some unbelievable mistakes like dumb turnovers and fumbles, I, for once, actually love Syracuse in this game. Syracuse should cruise in this one, but I think it will be a little close for comfort most of the game. Either way, Syracuse wins this one. 27 to 17.
Syracuse plays this one tonight in front of a national television audience for a little FNL on ESPN at 8:00pm. It should be available online as well. Should be a fun one. We're gonna be tailgating most of the day and then staying out right after so that should be some Twitter gold. We'll be in the Dome during the game tonight so that will also be fun. Stop by and stay hey. And do whatever you want with Coach P. Boo or cheer. I don't think he cares much either way.

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We feel the same way, coach.

You'd think that coming off a tight win over Pitt last week that Syracuse would come out to New Jersey with some confidence, some momentum, and make a game of it against Rutgers. Well, maybe you wouldn't think that. Maybe I shouldn't have thought that. Syracuse goes to the home of college football and loses to Rutgers, 23-15.
Offense
C-
With a C- here, I actually think I'm being gracious. At the helm, Ryan Nassib went 25/42 (60%) for 356 yards and a touchdown. But he threw two interceptions. He was continually hurried, as the O-line couldn't hold a tune. What really struck me is how Nassib has seemingly regressed from an intelligence standpoint. The once confident-in-the-pocket QB became the panicky-type, taking sacks when he could have thrown the ball away, throwing into coverage, taking run opportunities when he shouldn't and not running when he should. You know, that QB we saw in the first couple games that had the highest QB rating in the country. Elsewhere, props to Marcus Sales for catching four passes for 100 yards. But, only four catches. This blog will continue to harp on Sales' lack of involvement in the playbook unless and until he's more involved.
Defense
B
It was either a pretty good defensive effort from the Orange, or just Rutgers' ineptitude on offense, (or both), that kept this game relatively close through the 4th quarter, making us wonder if maybe, just maybe, Syracuse had a last minute shot in this one. While the defense held Rutgers to only 12 first downs on 237 total yards, they couldn't create any turnovers. I think turnovers were the deciding factor in this game, so I have to dock the defense some points for not creating any. Otherwise, a good, solid effort.
Special Teams
C-
This was tough to grade because the Special Teams unit was great in some aspects and bad in others. First, the good: Steve Rene did a decent job of returning kickoffs, averaging 25 yards each on the four he fielded. Obviously nothing special, but decent enough. Jonathan Fisher punted well: four kicks for 169 yards, pinning two inside the 20. Now, the bad: Steve Rene had nothing going on punt returns. More awful, though, was Ross Krautman on field goals: as in, none. One was short & wide, while the other was blocked (likely because it was kicked low). Hopefully Marrone's changes for the UConn game will counteract the poor grade here.
Coaching
C
While my gut tells me to go lower (you know, because of Doug Marrone's "it's on me" thing) so much of why Syracuse lost this game falls on execution. And that's not on Dog Marrone. Early 80s? Yeah, put execution on Doug Marrone. But not in 2012. We can harp on play calls, we can harp on player discipline, we can harp on penalties (Syracuse had 7 for 44 yards). But I think unless we're sitting at each and every practice to see exactly how Marrone prepares these players, we can't blame the on-field execution (or lack thereof) on him. I hope it's not just that he's maxing out the talent here, but if it is, then we have what we have.
GPA
C (2.1)
This was a game that Syracuse could have won, maybe should have won, but didn't. Certain aspects of the game worked, but the vital ones didn't. It's a bit unfortunate that the final GPA comes out to passing, because it should really be a D. Still, the Orange were in this through the 4th quarter. Had it not been for a few ill-timed turnovers, we may have seen a different outcome.
Syracuse returns home to the friendly confines of a Friday Night Carrier Dome game. Also returning to the Dome will be Paul Pasqualoni and his UConn Huskies. We hate UConn, and we hate what Coach P turned this program into in his final years. There will be lots of emotions from the Orange faithful, but probably more negative than anything. I'll applaud P at the intros, then turn on the hate in full force. Look for Brian's complete pregame predictions in a few hours.

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It Really Was Orange Madness

Is this post about basketball or crime?

My original intent of this post was to provide a recap of last Friday's "Orange Madness" event in the Carrier Dome and get us all pumped up about the upcoming Syracuse Men's and Women's basketball seasons. And I can still do some of that. But, as we all know by now, Orange Madness ended up being about fights & a stabbing much more so than about basketball.

First, let me mention the event itself. It began with the Voice of the Orange, Matt Park, introducing his sidekicks Scoop Jardine and Jasmine Jordan. The audio for this evtire event was awful - I could barely hear anything from my seat, it seemed like they were only using speakers set up on the floor instead of the huge Carrier Dome speakers hanging from the roof. Oh well, maybe they can fix that problem for next year. Anyway, then the women's team players and coaches were introduced, alternatingly emerging from one of two makeshift tunnels built on each side of the movable bleacher sections. After the introductions, the ladies warmed up and played an 8-minute scrimmage. Then, the part that everyone was there for: Wale performed. I'm not a fan of rap music, so I think it sucked.

Then the men's team players and coaches were introduced, in the same fashion that the ladies had been, with one huge exception: Head Coach Jim Boeheim was escorted in through the Dome's main tunnel on a military vehicle, wearing his Team USA warmups and (what must be a fake or commemorative) gold medal. Boeheim addressed the crowd, and then Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney read about a 10-minute proclamation declaring it Jim Boeheim Day. With the hoopla then dying down, the players took to the floor to begin the warmup and scrimmage A minute or two into the first 8-minute period, nearly everyone in the Dome directed their attention to a fight that had broken out in section 103. Normally, this would be the student section, but Sitrus and the students were moved to behind the opposite basket for this event. Dome security personnel and Syracuse Police responded quickly, and the fight stopped. Good, now we could pay attention to the scrimmage again.

After the first 8-minute period, there wasn't much of anything going on. The 2nd 8-minutes went by, and then it was time for the dunk contest. We discovered that last year's winner James Southerland would indeed compete to defend his title, despite earlier indications that he'd be sitting this one out. He ended up winning, basically by default, because the other contestants -- if they could actually dunk -- weren't impressive. Even one of the women's team players attempted (and failed) to dunk. But it was fun watching her try.

And then Matt Park came out, thanked us for coming, and wished us a good night.

I was a bit confused by the lack of a 3-point shooting contest, but I didn't think too much of it. We filed out of the Dome, and as we were walking in the area between the Law School and the Heroy geology building, a Department of Public Safety car basically comes flying through the Q1 parking lot and down towards the Dome, trying to get people to move out of the way. I really gave no thought to what it was going to respond to.

Turns out, of course, that Orange Madness had been cut (sorry) a half-hour short due to several fights and, ultimately, a stabbing in the concourse. I had no idea, and didn't even see anything on twitter about it until after I had left Faegan's after having a beer. We later learned that the stabbing victim was 25 years old, and not an SU student. Though he was uncooperative with the police investigation, we were told that the stabber was also not affiliated with SU, nor were any of the other people involved in the fights.

Eventually, two statements from the university were issued, one from the Carrier Dome & DPS, the other from Nancy Cantor & Darryl Gross. Both statements were carefully worded to not blame this on anything specific, but it was clear what they were getting to: "these were black people who were there because it was a free event, but don't worry, because they can never afford to come to other Carrier Dome events."

Obviously they didn't say it that way, because that's not very politically correct. True. But, it's probably true. There's been an increase of non-SU affiliated violence from the city spilling up onto the Hill. Acropolis Pizza on Marshall Street has become a hot spot, and the police want the owner to close.

So what's the University's response to prevent this from happening at the Dome again? They'll be reviewing the ticketing & seating procedures for the Orange Madness event, including the musical entertainment portion of it. Or, "tickets won't be widely available for free so that poor black people can't afford them, and we won't be having hip hop artists perform that will attract black people."

That's a very short sighted and discriminatory response. Outside of the blatant racism, it doesn't solve the problem. The problem is the crime, not who's committing it. When I was an SU student (now over 6 years ago), I thought that the gang problem in the city was getting worse. Turns out my feeling was right. It's getting worse in the city, and when you now see it increasingly spill onto the Hill, you know it's bad.

So why not help fix the gang problem? Having a folk singer perform and charging $5 for the tickets are probably going to keep the gangs away from the Dome. But they'll be somewhere else that night. They don't need to be within the confines of the Carrier Dome to commit crimes. Yeah, I don't know what the fix is for the gangs; increase police patrols & prosecutions, emphasize education, assist with skills building and job searching, community programs and services. Or something else. Who knows? But the ease of getting into the Carrier Dome and who the musical performer is will not stop this gang problem. It just further distances the University from the city's problems.

If Nancy Cantor wants to solidify her legacy in Syracuse before she leaves, helping to solve this problem head on will certainly be what does it for her.

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Cue The Crying Child...

Rutgers won. Syracuse Lost. Children cry.

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Rutgers Quick Predictions

The only thing photoshopped is the football.
Syracuse won their Big East opener at home against Pittsburgh last Friday. Now they head on the road to Rutgers as they take on a ranked Scarlet Knights team that is undefeated. What will happen?
Rutgers is a team that gets it done on the ground. The Big East's leading rusher is Jawan Jamison, with over 600 rushing yards. But that's not to say that RU's QB Gary Nova has been a slouch either. He had a great day against UConn. Then again, who couldn't against UConn at this point. Anyway, Syracuse is ripe with confidence after taking down Pittsburgh a week ago and after not scoring a point after the first quarter. The Syracuse defense managed to hold another stud rusher in the league to close to 60 yards. If Jamison can spring loose of the Syracuse run stop on a consistent basis, Syracuse will lose, and probably lose badly. Honestly, I see Rutgers having the kind of game Pittsburgh had against Syracuse. Nova will make 3rd down conversion, but Jamison will be hung up. The question is if Syracuse can again score more points. Throwing picks in the end zone will not help. Playing a turnover free game is the only thing Syracuse can do. And keeping the chains moving through smarter play selections and quarterback protection. Both secondaries can be broken down by these quarterbacks. The team that wins will be the team that's secondary makes the timely play or stop. I think the odds are it will be Rutgers' secondary that has that kind of day, despite what will probably be a valiant effort on the part of Syracuse. Being on the road I just think the chance for calamity on the part of Syracuse is raised. Therefore, pending a perfect offensive effort I think Syracuse falls short in this one. I'm picking Rutgers over Syracuse 24 to 17.
Syracuse is playing the Big East game of the week. That means we're on regional coverage on TWCS, SNY, and ESPN 3 in the nooner. I'll be out of the home office so that means it's a grab bag as to what John and I will be doing during this thing. But either way, it's Rutgers fans that lose. They probably either live in New Jersey or went to Rutgers. Maybe both. All awful.

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Ryan Nassib did just enough to earn the big win.
Syracuse opened Big East play coming off a much needed bye week. Their last outing was a disaster so facing an up and down Pitt team with an extra week of preparation worked out perfectly for the struggling Orange. It worked out, despite a lackluster performance from the Syracuse offense. Syracuse pulls out the one point win in the Dome 14-13.
Offense
C
Ryan Nassib (19/30, 185yds, 0 TD, 1 INT) had a lackluster day. Marcus Sales managed six receptions but only earned 63 yards and no touchdowns. The real stars of the offense were the rushes of Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley. They were able to ice the game when they needed to, and Syracuse did just enough on offense to put the ball in decent field position. Syracuse was only 5-14 on third down conversions and had only 305 total offensive yards, less than Pittsburgh. Additionally, Syracuse got killed in time of possession by about ten minutes. Then there was that unfortunate pick in the end zone, something Syracuse allegedly worked on all bye week to prevent.
Defense
B+
Syracuse was able to pressure Tino Sunseri at various points. They also virtually disabled RB Ray Graham. Not only that, but they forced a turnover and earned a fumble recovery for a touchdown. That was half of Syracuse's points in this game. They also pushed them out of field goal range late in this game. Despite not covering Devin Street for most of the game, allowing him a career day, Syracuse managed to do just enough to stop Pitt from scoring anything more than a field goal in the second half, putting them one point short.
Special Teams
B
While the initial kickoff coverage against Pittsburgh was terrible, Syracuse then proceeded to pin punt after punt deep in Pittsburgh territory. The Pitt kicker missed one of his three field goal attempts, and Ross Krautman was perfect on his two extra points with no field goals attempted. All in all a pretty solid day for the Special Teams. For once.
Coaching
C
Marcus Sales should get more targets a game. Period. Also, I guess all that Red Zone preparation over a bye week was for nothing, considering Nassib threw another end zone pick. Great work out there.
GPA
C+ (2.58)
Yeah, it was a win. Syracuse did just enough to literally win by one point. But the offense stalled most of the game. The defense really had to bail out Syracuse by not only scoring the final touchdown for the Orange, but also had to knock Pittsburgh out of field goal range to preserve the lead late in the game. The Orange held on and played really well when the really needed to, but this game was closer than it could have been had the success of the first drive been consistently repeated.
Syracuse travels to Rutgers on Saturday to play the nooner in New Jersey. Looks like this will be the last time Syracuse has to travel to New Jersey for a while. Sounds good to me. Syracuse will be trying to pull the upset over ranked Rutgers. Yeah, I don't have them ranked in my Blogpoll either.

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BlogPoll 2012 - Week 6


*The top 2 stay the same. No surprise with Oregon still dominating and Alabama on the bye.

*South Carolina moves up to #3 after FSU falls to unranked NC State. West Virginia also moves up to #4 after beating Texas in a shoot out.

*TCU takes the biggest dive after their performance and the loss of players.

*There was some general shuffling in the top ten, as well as the next five. Notre Dame made a few bigger jumps like Florida. Kansas State is an interesting case as they are a good team but they do not have a great resume compared to other teams in the top ten.

*Goodbye Northwestern after not being able to get it done on the road at Penn State. Virginia Tech lost to UNC as well. Hello Cincy and Oregon State (who I probably should have had on here).

*Do I not like Rutgers as a Syracuse alum? True. Is that preventing me from ranking them? No. I don't think they are better then the teams on here. Beating UConn isn't noteworthy, especially since they have no offense.

Anything crazy? Think I'm nuts? Leave a comment, as per usual.

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Cue the Smiling Child with Puppies!

Syracuse wins a Big East game. Yaaaay puppies!

Pittsburgh Quick Predictions

It's from last season, but it's just as solid this year.
Syracuse is now 1-3 on the season. They are coming off a bye week to play a big game on Friday night to open their last Big East slate. The big question is which Pittsburgh team will show up? Oh, and what Syracuse team will show up too. 
Syracuse gets back OL stud Justin Pugh. But the offensive line has been fairly solid without him. The added time may give Syracuse the chance to throw a couple more deep passes a game but that's about the best case out of his return. The problem with Syracuse's offense has been red zone production and play calling. Syracuse has had a nice bye week to fix those things. So has Pittsburgh. Syracuse can practice all they want, but Syracuse fans have learned the hard way that just one little mistake makes the game almost out of reach for Syracuse after that. Limiting turnovers has been a problem for Syracuse the last couple of games. Syracuse's defense will play tough, but tackling has been a problem for the Orange. The question is can Syracuse stop the run and tackle in open space enough to put the game on Tino Sunseri's shoulders. If Syracuse forces him to be the playmaker Syracuse could put themselves in a perfect position to steal a game and get back on track. Tackling has been a point of emphasis on the bye so Syracuse should look more confident in tackling in the open field, and should be tougher in the box. While all of this sounds good, and should put Syracuse into a better position, I'm going to simply pick history on this one. The last time Syracuse beat Pittsburgh Nancy Cantor got inaugurated the day before and it took 2 OTs to do it. Additionally, this is "Family" Weekend (formally Parents Weekend but I assume someone without a Dad got upset and complained), which means no student section to say, and it means a lame and fairly quiet Dome. Now, that's not to say the hometown heros will not be yelling loudly, but you will notice the absence of a pile of students yelling. Either way, no real big homefield advantage. However, Syracuse tends to play well on Friday nights. I think this game will be close, but I'm picking Pittsburgh to beat the Orange 27 to 24.
This game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN in stunning HD at 7:00pm tonight. It will also be available on ESPN 3. John will be tailgating all afternoon and will be in the Dome. I'll be tweeting from the Home Office, so chime in and enjoy your viewing. Hopefully we can celebrate or commiserate together.

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Has Syracuse's Success Stalled?

Has the Syracuse offense had any Red Zone swagger?
So, here we sit. A third of the season behind us. The entire Big East slate ahead of us, along with a random trip to Missouri. But the four games the Orange has played so far tells us a lot about what we can expect, a lot about what needs to be fixed, and a lot about our expectations of this program's direction.
After Syracuse fell short to Northwestern in the season opener 42-41, and then put up a hell of a fight against Southern California, there was a lot of positivism and excitement around the program. Syracuse was "the best 0-2 team in the nation." Moral victories don't mean anything, but we certainly felt that the Orange was this close to being good.
Then there was that "disappointing" win against Stony Brook.
It was classic Syracuse "play to the level of your competition." SBU was certainly no push-over, being one of the best FCS teams in the country. But that's not supposed to matter. FBS teams are supposed to manhandle FCS teams. Syracuse, in many ways, was lucky to leave Ernie Davis Legends Field with a win.
So it all came down to the game in Minnesota. It was a chance for the Orange to win a big game on the road against a quality BCS conference opponent. It was a chance to pick up momentum heading into a bye week before hitting the conference schedule head on. And what did Syracuse do? Blew it.
But it was inevitable. We should have seen it coming. Ryan Nassib's impressive numbers; the offense's ability to move the chains; the "we're almost there" mentality. It was all fake. It was a bunch of getting really worked up, and then getting disappointed, having nothing to show for it. Football blue balls.
Really what I'm talking about is an inability to consistently convert yards gained to points. Syracuse was great at moving the ball down the field, but then would get within field goal range and stall. Little to nothing to show for the 50-60 yards it had just gained.
My assumption was that it was Red Zone inefficiency. But then I looked at the stats. In 2012's four games so far, Syracuse has been in the Red Zone 18 times: 15 scores (83%), with 11 touchdowns (61%) and four field goals (22%). That shocked me. That's pretty decent Red Zone efficiency, especially on the TD side of things.
The problem must be Syracuse just not quite getting to the Red Zone. And this is where I think the much talked about mistakes, penalties, and questionable play-calling come in. I won't go on and on about it here; much better articles have been written and sports radio interviews have thoroughly covered those topics. But, isn't that where the Orange Achilles Heel is?
Last week's bye couldn't have come at a better time, as it turns out. Some time to put the brakes on a team careening out of control. Some time to rework the offensive playbook for the opponent's side of the field. Some time to re-instill the basic tenets of rules and discipline.
Let's face it: the Big East is wide open. Yeah, Louisville's 5-0, Rutgers 4-0, Cincinnati 3-0; but there's a lot of football to be played. And that same feeling we had about the team after it started 0-2 can still be felt. We can't just be this close. We can be there. Or here, I guess. It of course depends on fixing those things I just mentioned, but there's eight games left, and only five wins needed to qualify for a bowl game.
When Syracuse plays Pittsburgh on Friday, it will have been 350 days since the Orange beat a FBS opponent. I'm all for putting on our orange-tinted glasses and hoping for the best.

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BlogPoll 2012 - Week 5


*Okey State is out after losing (admittedly on a controversial touchdown) to Texas. New on the poll is Northwestern.

*Sparty falls three spots after losing to Ohio State by a point.

*West Virginia hops USC. Geno Smith > Matt Barkley. Geno Smith > All NCAA QBs right now.

*FSU hops LSU to earn the #3 spot. I do like my top 8 and I think they are totally solid and seeded correctly.

*Stanford takes the biggest tumble after losing to Washington. That team is schizo. Also, the Pac 12 is bonkers.

Anything crazy? Someone lose I didn't drop down because I missed it? Leave a comment.

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