#68 Syracuse Football Preview

Syracuse Orange

Overall Rank: #68
#6 Big East

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2010 Record: (8-5, 4-3)
2010 Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Kansas State (W 36-34)
Coach: Doug Marrone (12-13 at Syracuse, 12-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Shafer

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Antwon Bailey, RB, 554 yards
Passing: Ryan Nassib, QB, 2,334 yards
Receiving: Van Chew, WR, 611 yards
Tackles: Phillip Thomas, S, 92
Sacks: Chandler Jones, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Kevin Scott, CB, 1; Phillip Thomas, S, 1; Jeremi Wilkes, S, 1

Other Key Returnees: G Zack Chibane, OT Michael Hay, WR Alec Lemon, DE Mikhail Marinovich, TE Nick Provo, OT Justin Pugh, LB Marquis Spruill, S Shamarko Thomas, G Andrew Tiller

Key Losses: C Ryan Bartholomew, RB Delone Carter, S Mike Holmes, LB Doug Hogue, DT Andrew Lewis, DT Anthony Perkins, LB Derrell Smith, S Max Suter

The defense carried Syracuse to a bowl game last year, but this time around the roles may be reversed. Quarterback Ryan Nassib welcomes back a ton of offensive talent. Nassib generally avoided making mistakes and that was enough to get the Orange their first bowl victory since 2001. After throwing for 2,334 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore, Nassib is expected to develop into a leader and a playmaker on offense.

Yet, Nassib will have plenty of help. The team’s top five pass catchers from a year ago return. Wide receivers Van Chew, Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon caught four or five touchdowns each. Tight end Nick Provo is a nice big target who caught 33 passes for 365 yards in 2010. And running back Antwon Bailey is a great pass catcher out of the backfield. Bailey will do a fine job replacing departed tailback Delone Carter. Bailey had a great spring and has breakaway speed. He should be in for a big year as both a rusher and a pass catcher. With four starters returning on the offensive line, Bailey should get plenty of holes to run through. The loss of center Ryan Bartholomew is a big loss from a line that was not particularly effective last season, but tackle Justin Pugh and guard Andrew Tiller should make the line at least as good as it was in 2010. Pugh earned all-conference accolades as a freshman and could turn into one of the Big East’s best. The offensive line even has some depth and it has been a while since Syracuse could say that.

The defense gave up few than 20 points per game last year, but eight key contributors are gone, including seven starters. This was a team that had a great secondary in large part due to a quality pass rush. Most of those strengths are now question marks. Defensive ends Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich are experienced upperclassmen, but they will need some help from some less experienced defensive tackles if the front line is going to be anywhere near as effective as they were in 2010. The lone returning starting linebacker is sophomore Marquis Spruill. He will move into the middle, but there will be inexperience on both sides of him. The secondary returns junior safeties Shamarko Thomas and Phillip Thomas, but there are big questions at cornerback. Senior Kevyn Scott will compete with sophomores Keon Lyn and Ri’Shard Anderson for the starting jobs.

The Bottom Line:
Any way you look at it, the defense will be worse this season. They are not nearly as experienced as the unit that dominated most Big East opponents in 2010 and there are just too many questions. For the team, the offense will have to do what the defense did last season and help cover the deficiencies on the other side of the ball. If they can, this is an Orange team that can get back to a bowl game. However, Coach Doug Marrone’s offense was pretty bad last year and expecting them to improve dramatically may be asking a little too much. The best way for Syracuse to make some noise in the Big East is with an average offense and a defense that comes together early in the year and surprises a little bit.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 140.15 (76th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 182.69 (91, 6)
Total Offense: 322.85 (97, 6)
Scoring Offense: 22.15 (93, 7)
Rushing Defense: 136.15 (41, 5)
Pass Defense: 165.31 (7, 1)
Total Defense: 301.46 (7, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.31 (17, 3)
Turnover Margin: -.31 (75, 6)
Sacks: 2.08 (54, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.54 (94, 6)

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