College Football Analysis: Syracuse May Surprise People in 2011
2010 Season Breakdown
Final record (overall, conference): 8-5, 4-3
Bowl game: Pinstripe Bowl (W, 36-34 vs. Kansas State)
Final ranking (AP, Coaches’): NR, NR
Conference finish: 4th Big East
Offensive rank: 97th
Defensive rank: 7th
2010 Individual Statistics Leaders
Rushing: Delone Carter, 1,233 yards, 9 TD
Passing: Ryan Nassib, 2,334 yards, 19 TD, 8 INT
Receiving: Van Chew, 611 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Derrell Smith, 114 tackles
Sacks: Chandler Jones, 4 sacks
Interceptions: Da’Mon Merkerson and Doug Hogue, 2 INT
2011 Schedule (all games Saturday unless noted)
*denotes conference game
September 1 (Thur) vs. Wake Forest
September 10 vs. Rhode Island
September 17 @ USC
September 24 vs. Toledo
October 1 vs. Rutgers*
October 8 @ Tulane [8:00 PM ET]
October 21 (Fri) vs. West Virginia* [8:00 PM ET]
October 29 @ Louisville*
November 5 @ Connecticut*
November 11 (Fri) vs. South Florida* [8:00 PM ET, ESPN2]
November 26 vs. Cincinnati*
December 3 @ Pittsburgh* [ABC]
September 1 vs. Wake Forest: Wake hasn’t exactly been the ACC’s most powerful school, but a win for the Orange here on the opening night of the season would be great as Syracuse looks to match or improve last year’s win total.
October 21 vs. West Virginia: The Mountaineers are most people’s favorite to win the Big East. Not many people are talking about Syracuse as candidates for the conference title, but this would be a great opportunity to steal one at home on a Friday night.
November 11 vs. South Florida: This is another Friday night home game for the Orange, and similar to the WVU matchup, it’s a great chance to gain some exposure and show the nation how good this team can be. If Syracuse wants to be taken seriously as a Big East Championship candidate, these are the types of games they’ll have to eventually win.
Key Departed Players
Delone Carter, RB; Ryan Bartholomew, C; Doug Hogue, LB; Derrell Smith, LB; Mike Holmes, CB
Key Returning Players
Ryan Nassib, QB; Antwon Bailey, RB; Van Chew, WR; Nick Provo, TE; Justin Pugh, OT; Chandler Jones, DE; Phillip Thomas, S; Ross Krautman, K
The biggest hole after last season was at running back with Delone Carter leaving, but Antwon Bailey stepped up big in the spring to show that he’s more than the third-down specialist he was considered behind Carter. He’s a smaller back, but he’s versatile. In addition to running the ball, he’s able to catch the ball out of the backfield and could even line up at receiver. He’ll run behind a very experience and very talented offensive line led by tackle Justin Pugh. Macky MacPherson takes over at center for the departed Ryan Bartholomew.
Ryan Nassib will return at quarterback for the Orange after a big bowl game against Kansas State. With a year under his belt and playing behind a veteran offensive line, Nassib will also have his top receivers back. Van Chew and Alec Lemon return, while Marcus Sales was arrested this offseason on drug charges and his status for the season is uncertain. Tight end Nick Provo was the team’s fourth leading receiver and Bailey was the team’s fifth, giving Nassib his top five receivers from a year ago. Dorian Graham and Jarrod West also look to play a big role in the passing game. The familiarity and consistency should figure to play well in this year.
Mike Holmes and Da’Mon Merkerson left behind two vacant cornerback spots that were filled this spring by Kevyn Scott and Keon Lyn. Lyn, though, experienced an arm injury in fall camp. Safety was more consistent with Phillip Thomas and Shamarko Thomas returning, but the latter suffered a concussion and his status is unknown. With little depth behind the starters at cornerback, player health will be important and the new starters need to step into their new roles. Linebacker Dan Vaughan had a good spring and will get a starting opportunity at the strongside linebacker spot. Marquis Spruill moves inside, while Dyshawn Davis lines up on the weakside at the second level. Vaughn and Davis will look to replace Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, who led the team in tackles a year ago.
Defensive end seems set with Mikhail Marinovich and Chandler Jones returning, but both starters are gone on the inside. Jay Bromley and Cory Boatman are listed as the starters on the post-spring depth chart, but both are a bit undersized in the middle with Bromley at 269-pounds and Boatman at 274-pounds. Even the biggest backup is just 280-pounds. Last year’s defense ranked 7th in the country and were 7th in pass defense. There are questions at every level of the defense (defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback), and the new starters will be looked upon to step in early with a Week 3 matchup against USC on the schedule.
Beat Writer’s Take
I’ve asked beat writers and alumni from around the country to give their take on the local team heading into the 2011 season. Providing his take on the Orange is Nolan Weidner of The Syracuse Post-Standard.
“The Syracuse University Orange and coach Doug Marrone surprised everyone, except maybe themselves, by turning a 4-8 campaign in 2009 around to go 8-5, including a bowl win, in 2010.
“While another leap like that isn’t likely, Orange success in 2011 depends on two basic questions: Will an improved offense be able to control the clock longer and put up more points? And can a defense that lost a ton of senior leadership hang tough enough to let the offense win a few games?
“SU is home for four of its first five games, and only a road trip to Southern Cal looks daunting. The tough stretch comes in late October and early November, with consecutive road games at Louisville and Connecticut sandwiched between home dates with West Virginia and South Florida.
” If the Orange can spit those four games, a 7-5 or even an 8-4 regular season looks doable.”
Top Draft Products
Antwon Bailey, RB; Nick Provo, TE; Mikhail Marinovich, DE
5th Big East
If not for UConn, the Orange would have been the Big East’s biggest surprise last year, winning seven regular season games and coming away with a win in what was probably one of the top three most exciting bowl games of the year. Expect the offense to be better this year with Bailey stepping up at running back and Nassib having a year under his belt and an offensive line and receivers corps that returns pretty much intact. If the new starters on defense can step into their new roles quickly, this team should again manage a bowl invite.
- Want a leg up on the competition? Get the Xclusive Edge 2011 Fantasy Football Package and win your league.
Big East Previews
- Cincinnati Bearcats 2011 Team Preview
- Connecticut Huskies 2011 Team Preview
- Louisville Cardinals 2011 Team Preview
- Pittsburgh Panthers 2011 Team Preview
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights 2011 Team Preview
- South Florida Bulls 2011 Team Preview
- West Virginia Mountaineers 2011 Team Preview
Danny Hobrock, is our College Football Editor and NCAA Football On-Air Personality. Danny's writing on College Pigskin has garnered national attention and has been critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DannyHobrock