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Bye Week 1, Ryan Norton 0

Well, we made it until the end of October.

News surfaced today that Syracuse starting kicker Ryan Norton is suspended for the Wake Forest game this Saturday due to an arrest last weekend. Norton had been the starter since Ross Krautman was lost for the season due to injury/surgery.

Norton's arrest stems from allegations of underage possession of alcohol and resisting arrest. Evidently, Norton was outside of Acropolis on Marshall Street last Friday night (strike 1), possessing a 24-ounce can of Bud Light (strike 2). When approached by police, he initially complied but then tried to run away, and struggled when they apprehended him (strike 3).

Now, in my experience as a defense attorney, police do have a tendency to over-exaggerate allegations of resisting arrest. But my guess is Norton acted stupid enough to warrant these charges. I say stupid because if he's cooperative with police about the underage drinking, maybe he just walks away from this. Maybe they cops just say "Throw away the beer and go home." Or, at worst, he gets cited for underage drinking -- a simple violation -- which would send him to Syracuse Community Court, he'd have the option to perform community service, and have the charge be dismissed. Instead, he complicated things by resisting.

Complicated, because resisting arrest is a misdemeanor. A crime. If he's found guilty of resisting arrest, he gets a criminal record. It becomes more difficult to dispose of the case.

While a conviction of resisting arrest carries a maximum of one year in jail or three years probation, I certainly don't see either of those things happening here. In fact, I don't see him being convicted of resisting arrest. Assuming he has no criminal history, I think at worst he pleads down to disorderly conduct & pays a fine, or at best performs community service and gets everything dismissed.

We'll let the court process play itself out. In the meantime, Head Coach Scott Shafer has already decided that this is a violation of team rules, that Norton will be suspended for one game (Wake Forest this Saturday), and will rejoin the team for the game at Maryland next week.

So to recap, a few things from this: football players need to not be idiots when they're not playing football; and to his detriment he made his own situation worse by resisting. Not smart. None of this was smart. Especially the "hanging out in front of Acropolis on a Friday night" part.

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Yeah Scott, we couldn't believe the scoreboard either.
Wow. Syracuse fans and the team know there would be some growing pains when it came to the new conference slate and all that comes with joining a new conference. But I mean... just wow. Syracuse loses to Georgia Tech 56-0. A score not that different from the last time they played in 2004, a game that resulted in the firing of Coach P. Brutal to see.
Offense
F
Syracuse had only 208 yards in the game, and a dreadful 75 yards on the ground. They had 10 first downs but a dreadful 3-12 conversion rate on third downs. Terrel Hunt (7/14, 68yds, 0 TD, 1 INT) had a bad day, and Drew Allen (6/15, 65yds, 0 TD, 1 INT), who started the second half, had an even worse day. There were two total INTs and one fumble lost. What offense?
Defense
D
Syracuse allowed 26 first downs, 5-8 third down conversions, and 482 total yards. Those are some shocking numbers. More shocking is that the heavy option based offense of GTech managed to fool the secondary and caught them sleeping, letting the QB go 3/3 with a touchdown. Interestingly enough, 14 players carried the ball for GTech. Stuffing the box didn't help. Not much did. But the interception Syracuse had to end GTech's first drive will prevent them from getting the fail.
Special Teams

When your punt gets blocked it definitely lowers your grade more than a missed long field goal will. The punting was fairly solid, but the coverage was something to be desired. And no field goals or XPs were attmepted so there's nothing to lift the grade.
Coaching
D
For saying you've been preparing for the GTech option offense since summer and come up with that performance, it's a miracle that they didn't end up with an F. But there were some moments where the play calling wasn't bad. But when your running game can't get going it forces a lot of passes, which isn't the best game plan. THe defense couldn't stop much either. While a decent chunk of the blame goes to the players, the coaches didn't set then up for success after game planning against this team as long as they did.
GPA
D- (0.75)
Syracuse played their worst game since Northwestern. But this was obviously worse. The offense couldn't get going, and Hunt has yet to really prove himself against a team that isn't Tulane or an FCS squad. This was embarrassing for Syracuse.
Syracuse will have a well timed bye week to lick their wounds before heading back to the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome to take on a winable Wake Forest team. But wow. Not even a field goal is not good. The sooner we forget what happened last weekend the better.

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Cue The Crying Child...

56-0 would make even the happiest child cry.

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Georgia Tech Quick Predictions

I hate that freaking insect.
At the half way point, Syracuse needs just three games to become Bowl Eligible. The remaining schedule has some tough games, but others don't seem to be as tough. Georgia Tech seems one of those in between games.
I personally hate Georgia Tech. The very first football game I attended as a Syracuse student was against Georgia Tech in then Giants Stadium in the Kickoff Classic in 2001. We lost. Then my last game as a student was the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando in 2004. We got smoked. Coach P got fired, but it still sucked to have my college career bookended by two losses to the same team, one that we didn't even play regularly. That being said, Georgia Tech is an interesting team. Similarly situated at 3-3 (2-2), Georgia Tech started the year hot winning three, but then dropped the last three, including a bad loss to BYU out in Utah. They are an intriguing team in that they run the old triple option. Their run game is their strength. And it can be tricky to defend. However, Syracuse's strength, by far, on the defensive side is stopping the run. Georgia Tech, if they want to be truly successful on Saturday, will have to throw the ball. Similarly, Syracuse as well. Both teams feature a run heavy offense and the difference in the game will be which team passes better. Terrel Hunt is still waiting to have a breakout game against a BCS team. Doing damage against Wagner and Tulane at home isn't bad, but he hasn't proven himself against a tougher opponent. Two picks against NC State last weekend didn't help the cause. But I think he will have a bounce back game. I picked Syracuse to lose this game in our season preview, however I am reversing my decision here. I think Hunt has a decent game and Syracuse's runningbacks do just enough to put Syracuse in a position to win. But what really wins us the game will be the defense. The big guys up front have been good the last few games and I look for that to continue. I'm picking Syracuse to win a close one in Atlanta. Syracuse 27 GTech 17.
This game will be available regionally on the ACC Network at 12:30pm. You can check out if your local station will carry the game here. For those away from the east coast can get this game nationally on ESPN 3. To check and make sure you aren't blacked out, check ESPN here. John has arrived in Atlanta after winning tickets to the game and first class airfare so he'll be checking in live from another game. I'll be out of the home office in another state so I won't be with you watching the game live. But check back here as always for proper postgame coverage in hopefully a nice win for the Orange. And for my undergrad self.

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Don't worry too much Scott. You just earned your first road win and the first ACC win ever.
Syracuse went down to Raleigh looking to prove that Syracuse was not a team that could only beat the likes of a Tulane or a Wagner. And while Terrel Hunt didn't play spectacularly well, Syracuse did enough on the ground to earn a big win in hostile territory to not only earn their first ACC win, but they got their first road win of the season, and the first win ever against NC State. They are your winner over the Wolfpack 24 to 10.

Offense
B-

Hunt (10/20, 74 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT, 1 rush TD) had a rough day. Or I should say, a rough first half, then let his running backs do most of the work in the second half. The offense earns its grade due to the hard running of both Jerome Smith (19 car, 140 yds, 7.4avg, 1 TD), and PTG (9 car, 132 yds, 14.7 avg, 1 TD). They both had their moments in this game and both had long runs of over 50 yards on the day. They earned 15 first downs, they were 5-14 on third downs, and had 436 total yards. Overall, not much offense in the first half, but the second half more than made up for it.

Defense
B
The defense had a major improvement over the week before. While NC State isn't a potent an offense as Clemson, the Syracuse defense really showed improvement, especially in the secondary. And Syracuse was able to get to the quarterback and sack him several times in the game. Syracuse held NC State to only 7-23 on third downs and 2-5 on fourth down. The only reason they didn't score an A is because they allowed several receptions of 30 yards or more. The secondary still needs to get better, but this was definitely an improved effort, and earning another interception helps, especially only yards from the goal line.

Special Teams
B
That was one of the best two point conversion attempts I have ever seen. If you missed it, try and catch a replay but RGLCL pitched it for an easy two points off a read of where the defense lined up. Perfectly executed after a botched XP attempt earlier in the game. Ryan Norton has been a decent fill in for DAS BOOT, hitting his one field goal attempt (19 yds) and technically hitting his one XP attempt.

Coaching
B
The play calling has been good so far this season, and this game was no exception. However, the penalties continue to be an issue for Syracuse. While there was one holding penalty in particular was simply to avoid Hunt taking a big shot, the rest were dumb penalties that Syracuse needs to avoid. That's the biggest issue the coaches need to address right now, but otherwise they had a fine game.

GPA
B (2.93)
Syracuse was so much better than NC State the majority of this game so if they ended up on the losing end it would have been a huge disappointment. Luckily, Syracuse's run game came up big in the second half, and the defense contributed key stops. Syracuse was the better team on the field and on the scoreboard when the 60 minutes were done.

Now at the halfway point Syracuse is 3-3 (1-1), which is not a bad position to be in with your first season in a new conference. Syracuse has the opportunity to pick up three more wins and get back to a bowl game and six games to do it in. With the remaining schedule it is certainly possible, but here at the half way point you have to be satisfied as a fan for the most part with how things have gone so far.

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Cue The Smiling Child...

Syracuse wins their first ACC game. And on the road. How cute!!!!!

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NC State Quick Predictions

Can Syracuse win their first ACC road game, like they did the Big East?
The Orange are coming off a tough week, after losing at home to #3 Clemson. While you can't blame how they performed against such a talented team, the true test for Terrel Hunt and company will be how they can handle one of the ACC's winable games?
Syracuse heads down to Raleigh to play a bit of an erratic Wolfpack team. I say that because, while they have a good chunk of talent on paper, they lost to a mediocre Wake Forest team. This seems like a complete toss up game. Both offenses are very capable of moving the ball, but get more done on the ground then in the air. Both defenses are capable of stopping other teams other than Clemson. Both teams will advance the ball on offense and score. And both defenses will create some stops. The team that wins will be the team that wins the turnover battle, and also create big plays on special teams. If Syracuse can cause turnovers, like the two picks they had on Tahj Boyd last weekend, they will probably end up winning. If they can't, Syracuse is in for a long day in North Carolina. SU has never beaten NC State ever. Syracuse has also never won an ACC Conference road game. John predicted Syracuse would win this game in his season preview. I said we would lose. He's sticking by that, and made the trip down to Raleigh, while I'll stick to my prediction that we'll have to wait until next season to beat NC State. I think Syracuse loses a close one. The Wolfpack over the Orange 38 to 31.
This game is at 3:30pm on the ACC regional network. You can find out what channel the game will be on here. It will also be available nationally on ESPN 3, as long as you aren't blacked out. You can see the blackout map here. A special note for my viewing area of Massachusetts. The game will be carried on NESN+ due to Bruins coverage locally on the regular NESN channel. John, as I said, is down at the game so he'll be providing some local color. I'll be at another school's game so you won't hear much from me during the game, but we'll have the report card out a little quicker this week. Either way, enjoy the game and perhaps Syracuse can surprise this weekend.

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There were definitely a few things to cheer about from the Orange sideline.
Syracuse knew they were in for a tough fight against the #3 team in the country in Clemson, as well as having to face Heisman hopeful Tajh Boyd. It ended the way most people thought it would, but at least Syracuse did about as well as they could have, and never gave up. Clemson stayed unbeaten 49-14.

Offense
C

I think we can still say that, despite not owning on offense like he did against Tulane and Wagner, Terrel Hunt (8/24, 52 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT) is still the clear starter for Syracuse at quarterback. And while a couple of those interceptions were not his fault, the second clearly was a bad throw to the wrong shoulder of the receiver, making it an easy pick for the talented coverage of the Tigers. Drew Allen... never mind. What was good to see was Jerome Smith (18 car, 125 yds, 6.9 ypc, 1 TD) and PTG (9 car, 44 yds, 4.9 ypc, 1 TD) get the ground game going and manage to score, both on fairly long runs. However, most of the offense didn't do much, only earning 13 first downs, and converting 4-20 on third down. They were 2-4 on fourth down however.

Defense
D+

Yes, they were facing Tajh Boyd, but when the entire offensive line doesn't move and lets you freely get to the quarterback, even casual fans recoganize that that is a screen pass. The Syracuse defense did not. That's frustrating. They allowed 27 first downs. The good news is they were 4-12 on third downs and 0-1 (the big play at the end of the first half for Clemson) on fourth down. And intercepting Boyd a couple times (the first time this season) sadly didn't do much to sway the grade.

Special Teams
C

In general, coverage was good and for the amount of times Syracuse had to punt they were all good. The longest was a spectacular 75 yard punt. However, Syracuse missed their one field goal attempt. Not a great day, but not the worst either. And considering they were playing #3, they could have really cost Syracuse field position and the ball with dumb mistakes.

Coaching
B

I thought the play calling was acceptable, and I LOVED the call to go for it on fourth with a fake kick, to convert. In general, the coaches did all they could to compete against Clemson, but it was futile of course.

GPA
C (2.1)

Not the worst game Syracuse has played, especially when looking at the team on the other side. But they definitely could have done better. Syracuse will hopefully recover, and do better this week on their first ACC road trip.

Syracuse next takes on NC State this weekend. They lost to Wake Forest, so the game could get interesting. Either way, be glad that this game is over.

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Slander Suit Dismissal Upheld on Appeal

Gloria Allred Loses Again

This past Friday, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, issued its Memorandum and Order deciding the appeal in the lawsuit filed by Bobby Davis & Mike Lang against Jim Boeheim & Syracuse University. As you will recall, the Supreme Court of Onondaga County granted a motion to dismiss -- pretty early on in the proceedings -- on that basis that the lawsuit did not allege a cause of action upon which the court could grant relief. Essentially, that dismissal stated that even if the allegations in the suit were assumed to be true, that they didn't amount to the level of proof required for defamation. The Davis & Lang legal team, led by publicity-hungry Gloria Allred, appealed that decision. Recently, lawyers filed their appellate briefs and appeared before the Court for oral arguments, and the Court recessed to deliberate and issue its ruling.

That ruling, which you can read on the Court's website here, upholds the Supreme Court's dismissal of the suit.

What it means
The lawsuit is dead. This could very well be the end of the road for these defamation claims. The appeals court, ruling 3-2, believed that Supreme Court justice Brian DeJoseph was legally correct when he granted the defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The appellate court cited to a number of cases mainly asserting that in determining whether the statements in question made by Boeheim were fact or opinion, the court must consider a number of factors, particularly the context in which the statements were made and what exactly was said. In concluding its decision, the Court writes:
The content of the statements, together with the surrounding circumstances, “ ‘are such as to signal . . . readers or listeners that what is being read or heard is likely to be opinion, not fact’ ” (Mann, 10 NY3d at 276). Based upon “the content of the communication[s] as a whole, as well as [their] tone and apparent purpose[, together with] the over-all context in which the assertions were made” (id.), we thus conclude that the court properly determined that defendant’s statements constitute opinion, not fact.
However, there was also a dissenting opinion. Two justices voted to reinstate the lawsuit, asserting that the statements were mixed fact and opinion, and as such, should at least survive a motion to dismiss at this stage of the proceedings and move forward with discovery and other pretrial matters. However, since a minority of the five-justice panel voted to reinstate the lawsuit, the dismissal was upheld.

What happens now
Like I said, at the moment this lawsuit is dead. The only thing that can resurrect it is a reversal by the Court of Appeals -- New York's highest court. But getting the case there usually isn't easy. The Court is much more selective in the cases it hears, and therefore its docket is controlled by the Court itself -- or by permission from justices from the lower appeals court. In this case, two appellate division justices dissented, which means that an appeal to the Court of Appeals can be taken "as of right" -- in other words, the law gives them that automatic right, and no permission is required to get the case to the Court of Appeals.

If (and when) the Allred team appeals as of right to the Court of Appeals, there will be another round of appellate briefs being filed, and oral arguments before that Court, before a decision is rendered. At that point, the Court will either affirm the rulings below to dismiss the lawsuit -- ending the case once and for all -- or reversing the dismissal and reinstating the lawsuit. That wouldn't mean Davis & Lang win, it would just send the case back to Onondaga Supreme Court for the lawsuit to pick up where it was ended.

And no, an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States (or, one of my favorite acronyms, SCOTUS), would be unlikely, if not impossible. An appeal to SCOTUS would have to involve a question of federal law or a federal/constitutional right, and really the only one I can think of here would be the right to free speech, which would be asserted by Jim Boeheim himself. But he would only appeal if there was a judgment/verdict against him, which wouldn't be until further proceedings in Onondaga Supreme Court.

So my official prediction is that we likely haven't seen the end of this case, because of course. This case is like the fembot in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me -- Robin Swallows -- who was stabbed, shot multiple times, bazookaed out a window, fell several stories to the ground, and still wouldn't die.

And with that, I think I'm all done here.

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Cue The Crying Child...

Syracuse gave it a good effort, but it's tough to beat #3.

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Clemson Quick Predictions

There will be a lot of orange in the Dome on Saturday.

The time has finally arrived. Syracuse will play their first ACC Conference game in front of what is expected to be a pretty large crowd in the Carrier Dome. It doesn't hurt that #3 Clemson is heading into the Dome with the thought that Syracuse is just a speed bump to making it to the National Championship. The Orange has recent history on their side of upsetting big time opponents. Is #3 Clemson next?

Syracuse enters the game the clear underdog. Tajh Boyd, the Clemson QB, is a definite Heisman candidate. Clemson is looking to run the table and make it to the BCS Championship. And he's playing well enough to do just that. Clemson is one of only three FBS schools in the nation to not have thrown an interception. While Syracuse has dropped over 50 points in their last two games, Clemson also did the same to Wake Forest last week. Syracuse will have a tall task in keeping up with the fast paced Clemson offense. And that is because the Syracuse secondary, while improved over the last two games while playing inferior opponents, very well could be lit up on Saturday. While I think Terrel Hunt will have another solid game, and put Syracuse in a position to at least not be embarrassed, Syracuse will only be successful in an upset bid if they create turnovers and sack Boyd. If Syracuse manages an interception or two, there would be a magical change Syracuse could pull one of the biggest upsets I'll have seen from them, and the most epic since a triple overtime win versus #7 Virginia Tech in the Dome in 2002. Help again from the Special Teams would also be nice, but you can't expect that this weekend. Either way, as long as Syracuse is able to pressure Boyd in the slightest, there is a chance Syracuse comes away with a huge upset. And if they don't, well what was expected to happen would have. This is a no lose situation for Syracuse. As long as they play well and keep the game somewhat close it would be respectable. If they win, well then it's an epic bonus. What helps, is that the Dome will be packed and it is Homecoming this weekend on the hill, so there will be plenty of people rooting for the home team in this one, and it will probably be the most full the Carrier Dome has been for a football game in several years. The crowd should at least be a decent factor in this one, causing Clemson to fall start a few times. Any help is appreciated. On top of that, Syracuse #BeatTheBye last weekend, so they are well rested, prepared, and ready to go. That might be enough to get them out in front to start this one. While an upset certainly is possible it isn't very probable. I hate picking against the Orange in this one, but Clemson is just too good of a team. I'll take the Clemson Tigers 41 to 34.

This game will be broadcast at 3:30pm on ABC or ESPN 2. Check out the map here to see what area you're in. If it is broadcast on ABC, it will be blacked out on ESPN 3 for you, so confirm on the blackout map here. It's also Homecoming so John and I will be providing coverage from inside the Dome, and you better believe if Syracuse wins we're going to be going nuts. Also, be sure to go here if you're making the trip back and see all the events you can attend, if you like that sort of thing. Special shoutouts to The classes ending in 3 and all Marching Band Alumni heading back. We'll see you on the Quad.

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