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CFN:  Syracuse Preview

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It looks like CFN looks at us as being above 'their level' and not being one of their winnable game (see bold)

I agree.  They have a ways to go.

Syracuse Orange

Preview 2006

By Pete Fiutak

Well that didn't work out so well.

Things started to slip under former head coach Paul Pasqualoni, but the 6-6 seasons of 2003 and 2004 looked like national title campaigns compared to last year's 1-10 fiasco.

Was it the coaching, the talent, or a little of both? How could such a proud program have fallen so far? Call it a case of a new staff tying to implement a new system and not having too much luck. The defense, head coach Greg Robinson's forte, was just fine, but the offense, well, the defense was just fine.

The Syracuse offense had been having problems over the years, but the new West Coast attack took things down to another level. Nothing seemed to work as the year went on with little production from the quarterbacks and not nearly enough of a push from the running game. After September, the SU attack failed to generate more than 17 points.

Head coach: Greg Robinson

2nd year: 1-10

Returning Lettermen:

Off. 17, Def. 23, ST 2

Lettermen Lost: 24

Ten Best Orange Players

1. LB Kelvin Smith, Sr.

2. CB Tanard Jackson, Sr.

3. P Brendan Carney, Sr.

4. SS Dowayne Davis, Jr.

5. QB Perry Patterson, Sr.

6. OG Carroll Madison, Soph.

7. RB Curtis Brinkley, Soph.

8. NT Chris Thorner, Jr.

9. WR Rice Moss, Jr.

10. LB Jerry Mackey, Sr.

2006 Schedule

CFN Prediction: coming

9/2 at Wake Forest

9/9 Iowa

9/16 at Illinois

9/23 Miami Univ.

9/30 Wyoming

10/7 Pitt

10/14 at West Virginia

10/21 Louisville

10/28 at Cincinnati

11/11 at South Florida

11/18 Connecticut

11/25 at Rutgers

2005 Schedule

CFN Prediction: 5-6

2005 Record: 1-10

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 West Virginia L 15-7

9/10 Buffalo W 31-0

9/17 Virginia L 27-24

10/1 at Florida State L 38-14

10/7 at Connecticut L 26-7

10/15 Rutgers L 31-9

10/22 at Pittsburgh L 34-17

10/29 Cincinnati L 22-16

11/12 South Florida L 27-0

11/19 at Notre Dame L 34-10

11/26 at Louisville L 41-17

Fine, so Syracuse isn't going to take the Big East by storm this year, either. That's O.K. as long as big strides are being made for the future. As many as nine underclassmen could end up starting in key spots, and most of the top talents are inexperienced backups ... at least for now.

Job one has to be to figure out how to generate more points. Quarterback Perry Patterson has been around long enough to be more of a playmaker and more of a consistent leader; he has to make everyone around him better. Despite the loss of Damien Rhodes, the backfield should grown into a strength if Curtis Brinkley and Kareem Jones can break out. The receiving corps has great players like Lavar Lobdell  and Taj Smith ready to push the starters, and the line has four rising sophomores that'll have to take their lumps before possibly forming the strength of the team in 2007.

Until things start to jell on offense, can Robinson and his staff pick up the slack with a defense that returns four starters? Linebacker Kelvin Smith and corner Tanard Jackson are All-America caliber performers to build around. The back seven will be surprisingly strong, while the line should be good against the run. Depth needs to be developed and there's no proven pass rush, but Robinson will quickly find a way to rectify both situations.

SU has to show signs of life this season and can't get blown out in game after game again. Robinson's future might depend on it.

The Schedule: There are only five bowl teams on the slate, and two of those are against South Florida and Rutgers. There's a problem with the lack of gimmes; winnable games against teams like Wake Forest, Illinois, and Cincinnati are on the road. The Orange has to take advantage of an early home stand against Miami University, Wyoming and Pitt, and has to try to hold up against the big boys Iowa, at West Virginia and Louisville before the schedule lightens up.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Perry Patterson. He has the size, the arm, and the mobility to be a great all-around quarterback. Now he has to put it all together and be a consistent passer and a better leader of the offense. While he has the starting job, that could quickly change if he struggles early on.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Kelvin Smith. The 233-pound senior projects as a better outside linebacker at the next level, but there's not a more sure tackler in the Big East and he should be in the hunt for defensive player of the year honors in the middle.

Key player to a successful season: Patterson. Joe Fields, Cameron Dantley and Matt Hale will all get shots to show what they can do, but for the offense to put up more than 13.8 points per game, Patterson has to shine. He has to be more comfortable in the West Coast offense and has to be effective on third downs.

The season will be a success if ... Syracuse wins six games. It would be a huge turnaround considering how bad the team was last year, but it's possible with Wake Forest, Illinois, Miami University, Wyoming, Cincinnati, and Connecticut all at SU's level.

Key game: September 2nd at Wake Forest. A win in the season opener would do wonders considering the team won one game last year. With Iowa and at Illinois ahead, the possibility of a crushing 0-3 start exists if the Orange can't get by the Demon Deacons..

2005 Fun Stats:

- Third down conversions: Opponents 55 of 169 (33%) - Syracuse 34 of 165 (21%)

- Rushing yards per game: Opponents 187.3 yards per game - Syracuse 106.5 yards per game

- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 9 of 12 (75%) - Syracuse 8 of 19 (42%)

The Last Time Syracuse…

…played in a bowl game…2004 (Champs Sports Bowl vs. Georgia Tech)

…missed a bowl game…2005

…pitched a shutout…2005 (Buffalo)

…was shutout…2005 (South Florida)

…scored 50 points…2002 (Virginia Tech)

…went undefeated…1997

…won a conference title…2004 (share, Big East)

…had a 3,000-yard passer…never

…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2003 (Walter Reyes)

…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1995 (Marvin Harrison)

…had a first-round draft choice…2002 (DE Dwight Freeney)

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