Big East

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Syracuse Orange

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 4-8, 1-6
Bowl Game: None
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 8th Big East
Offensive rank: 94
Defensive rank: 37

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Delone Carter, 1,021 yards, 11 TD
Passing: Greg Paulus, 2,024 yards, 13 TD, 14 INT
Receiving: Mike Williams, 746 yards, 6 TD
Tackles: Darrell Smith, 82 total tackles; Mike Holmes, 77 total tackles
Sacks: Doug Hogue, 9.5 sacks (9 solo, 1 assisted)
Interceptions: Mike Holmes, 3 INT

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 11 @ Washington: The last time the Orange and Huskies met was in a 42-12 Washington victory in 2007. The early season matchup will be an interesting test for the Orange defense, who were able to stop the run last season, but struggled to stop the air game. Huskies quarterback Jake Locker moves the ball on the ground and through the air, although a greater emphasis on the latter is expected in 2010. In the '07 matchup, Locker threw for 142 yards and rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns.

October 23 @ West Virginia: : Syracuse has not beaten West Virginia since 2001. The matchup with Noel Devine and the Mountaineers running game, which averaged 186 yards on the ground last season, will be an interesting fight as the Orange are expected to be even better on defense this year than they were last year when their 13th ranked rushing defense surprised exactly everybody.

November 6, 13, 20 vs. Louisville, @ Rutgers, vs. Connecticut: The Orange have won just four conference games since 2005; the four victories came against the Cardinals, Scarlet Knights and Huskies (two vs. Louisville). Winning these late season games will be the difference between another last place conference finish and the 6th or 7th spot.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Greg Paulus, QB; Mike Williams, WR; Jim McKenzie, C; Arthur Jones, DT

Key Returning Players

Delone Cater, RB; Antwon Bailey, RB; Ryan Bartholomew, C; Chandler Jones, DE; Derrell Smith, LB; Doug Hogue, LB; Mike Holmes, S

Offensive Overview

Syracuse will do away with the spread offense in 2009, in favor of a multi-look system. Ryan Nassib remains the presumed starter following spring practice, although head coach Doug Marrone has been impressed with Charley Loeb, a redshirt freshman, as well. "You have two kids that can go into a game and play well enough for you to win," he said according to a blog.

The running back position was a strength until leading rusher Delone Carter was suspended near the end of spring practice. Carter was suspended after he was arrested for punching a man who he had thought threw a snowball at a car that he and a teammate were riding in. Antwon Bailey, who rushed for 312 yards and a touchdown in 2009, is listed at the top of the depth chart, although Carter is expected to be readmitted in the fall following his suspension for the spring and summer semesters. With Carter, Bailey and Averin Collier in the backfield, the Orange running game is in good shape.

Van Chew and Alec Lemon are atop the depth chart at receiver following spring practice, but last year's second leading receiver, Marcus Sales, will see significant playing time. Another player to watch in the passing game is Aaron Weaver, who transferred to the Orange from Hofstra in January after his former program eliminated their football program. One of the storylines to follow throughout the summer, into the fall and eventually when the season starts is whether Chew, Lemon, Sales or Weaver develop into a viable number one target for Nassib.

Defensive Overview

After years and years of rushing defenses that ranked among the worst in the nation, Syracuse broke out a stout defense in 2009, fielding the nation's 13th ranked run defense. All-Big East tackle Arthur Jones is gone in the middle, but Syracuse returns Andrew Lewis to the other tackle spot and Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich return at the end positions. Jones and Marinovich are expected to create disruption in the pass rush off the edge, while a rotation of players is expected in the middle.

At linebacker, seniors Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, who were one and two in tackles and sacks last season, return at middle and strong side linebacker, respectively. Ryan Gillium will take over on the weakside after a productive spring. Gillium practiced with the first team in the spring despite E.J. Carter's, a starter last season, presence. Carter, who was originally not expected to practice with the Orange this spring, is now no longer a member of the team.

All four defensive backs listed at the top of the depth chart following the spring have starting experience, and a fifth, Max Suter, who was injured for spring practice, has starting experience as well. There is a lot of experience in the group, led by safety Mike Holmes, which should be helpful in improving on last year's 85th ranked pass defense. With the pass rush expected to be there in 2010, and a deep, experienced bunch in the secondary, the Orange are in a good position to also improve upon their negative turnover margin as well.

Special Teams Overview

Rob Long, a senior this season, ranked 15th in the nation with 2,538 punt yards a year ago. He punted 58 times for an average of 43.7 yards per attempt. According to, coach Marrone said of Long, "I really think that Rob Long has a chance to be an All-American."

Ryan Lichtenstein connected on all but one of his 28 extra point attempts and hit on 13 of his 17 field goal attempts, including six of seven from 40+.

Meanwhile, in the return game, Mike Jones averaged an impressive 24 yards per kick return in 2009. He was even mentioned as a possible star in the receiving game. Unfortunately, though, Jones informed the coaching staff a few hours before the first spring practice (12:45 p.m. to be specific) that he would be leaving the team. At the time, Marrone said, "I don’t understand it. I think he’d be better off commenting on that. You know, again, like I told you the time frame: 12:45," according to

Head Coach: Doug Marrone

Doug Marrone took over as coach of the Orange in 2009 after seven seasons in the NFL including three as the offensive coordinator for the Saints. Marrone is a Syracuse alumnus who played along the offensive line from 1983 to 1985.

Maronne will serve as the offensive coordinator this season which fans are hoping will lead to the Orange scoring more than their 99th ranked 21 point average last season and producing more than their 94th ranked 330 yard per game average.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Derrell Smith, LB; Max Suter, S; Rob Long, P

Season Prediction

7th Big East

The defense and a solid group of running backs could lead the Orange out of the Big East basement, but with promise all around the conference it won't be easy. The conference may not field an 'elite' team this season, but Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and West Virginia could be ranked in the preseason top 25, while Rutgers, South Florida and Connecticut fielded good teams a year ago and could do the same this season. Syracuse will have to win the majority of their non-conference games, and then take a few from conference opponents if they want to make the bowl season. While there is reason to believe, outlook, as we stand now, does not look good. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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