Well it’s never too early to start looking at the football season is it? – especially since lacrosse is now officially over. Football is now squarely in the cross hairs and thanks to the admins here at CuseOrange, we bloggers can now finally embed some video! And much like Coach Marrone’s pre-victory tour of the Northeast and Los Angeles, I’m going off the rails on my own personal crazy train – although to be fair DM went by bus. However then I wouldn’t have a good reason/segue to embed this:
Now since it seems that the fan base is on board with all things Marrone, especially his propensity for a solid breakfast. It’s now time to see if we can figure out if DM can turn this ocean liner named Syracuse football back to the port of plenty better known as a bowl game or at least more than 3 wins. We fans have endured the forgettable Grob era, and even with our savior in house, it may be asking alot to turn this current bunch of water into fine wine. Already the early voting precincts are starting to come in and what we’ve seen isn’t pretty. The Quad has responded with a rousing triple digit prediction. Oh Yippee!
Now let’s get right on with it and take a look at our first opponent, the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
What we know:
Just two years ago, the Gophers were in the same predicament as Syracuse has been mired in when Coach Tim Brewster steered Minnesota to a 1-11 record in 2007. Now he has the Gophers trending upward following a 7-6 season last year including an Insight Bowl berth. If there is a fast track back to mediocrity, this is a possible blueprint to follow.
The Gophers feasted on early competition beating Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana St, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue. Then the wheels came off losing their last 5 – Ohio St, Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas.
Now the team is also excited about the prospects of ditching the Metrodome in favor of a new outdoor stadium. That should give the locals a home field weather advantage, but I suspect that this is no place a traveling team wants to be in late October or November. However they get one last look at a dome as they will be crashing our Carrier Dome to open the season.
The team returns starting quarterback Adam Weber and WR Eric Decker. They are a potent duo. Weber passed for better than 2700 yards with 15 TDs and Decker grabbed 1071 and 7 of those scoring tosses.
However the biggest hard on from spring came in the form of backup QB MarQueis Gray. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there is a qb controversy, but let’s just expect that there could be a wrinkle or two in the Gopher playbook, as evidenced by this quote from Brewster:
“I felt all along we were going to use MarQueis and have packages for him, and he’s done nothing but enhance what I’ve thought,” Brewster said. “He’s a very gifted player.”
Much of the damage done by Minnesota was via the air. Their rushing was pretty anemic, finishing up at 104th in the nation. DeLeon Eskrigde and Kevin Whaley will try and improve on that.
Defensively, the Gophers have their 3rd Defensive coordinators in as many years of the Brewster era in Kevin Cosgrove. That may sum up their situation better than the 97 point they gave up in their last two games. The top four tacklers from last season (Kyle Theret, Lee Campbell, Tramaine Brock and Simoni Lawrence) all return. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not with this bunch. My guess is to expect some improvement from this group.
Here are some highlights of Minnesota’s spring game compliments of the Big 10 Network
This was a pretty dominant football team in the late 30′s/40′s as they racked up National Championships in ’34, ’35, ’36, ’40, ’41 and 1960.
Why we can win:
The opener should bring a solid turnout to start the Marrone era. Given the prospects of local boy Greg Paulus, the return of WR Mike Williams and the solid running game behind Carter/Bailey and Collier coupled with a potentially weak Minnesota D, Syracuse could hang around and make things interesting. Remember that the Orange actually led on the road at Northwestern in the 3rd Quarter. If the crowd, humidity and a couple of bounces go our way, this could shape up into a real interesting opener.
Why we can lose:
Let’s see, we don’t really have to document too much here do we? This team could be starting a QB that is a redshirt frosh or one that hasn’t played a competitive game in 4 years. There are bound to be mistakes in either scenario. The health of Art Jones in Week One will be a large question mark and the kicking game will be a compete mystery. Everyone expects this to be a frustrating year for Marrone as he looks to get his type of players into the program.
The chattering masses:
The DailyGopher took and even more preposterous early look into taking us on, and let’s just say they feel pretty good about playing us.
While I have been thoroughly enjoying the kool-aid served thus far by the new regime, it hasn’t taken on a Jim Jones flavor yet. That is to say, that while I may be “all aboard”, I do have a safety restraint on. It has become quite clear to me that when Coach says we are a “phase behind”, he means “Damn, the road to even mediocrity is alot steeper than I thought.” With that said, a boisterous crowd and steamy early September Dome weather will only take us so far.
What is also a huge unknown is the whole Greg Paulus experiment. Will 3 weeks of practice be enough to usurp Ryan Nassib? I would expect that he may take the reins later in the season so expect that Nassib has enough command of the offense to log the majority of the PT in game one.
I’m going to safely say a “Lot more work to do” type analysis will be given following a 35-17 loss.
What do you say?