Thursday, September 16, 2010

Syracuse Q&A with Brian Harrison

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 11: Running back Delone Carter  of the Syracuse Orange rushes against Cort Dennison  of the Washington Huskies on September 11, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Huskies defeated the Orange 41-20. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

UMAine faces Syracuse this week for the second time in as many years. The Orange are aiming for a bowl game this year, and are off to pretty good start. Brian Harrison from the great Syracuse blog Orange44 was nice enough to take some time to break down this confident Syracuse team.

1. What’s the overall feeling for the program this year?

It’s a lot of hope and optimism around this program right now. Marrone is a guy that is liked by almost everyone because he’s not only serious about bring success back to the program, and not only is improvement visible in every way, but he’s also one of us. He’s a Syracuse guy. He wants the program to succeed not only because his name is on the door, but because he understands what it means to Syracuse. And with a pretty reasonable schedule and a seemingly open Big East, people are thinking positively. I think, along with most people, Syracuse is just shy of a Bowl this season, but it will be on the horizon for the Orange in the next couple of seasons.

2. Offensive Style...Impact Offensive Players

It’s Delone Carter to start. He’s a power runner than will not shy away from contact and has the ability to find seams and run through them. Carter can break tackles and push people around. Last year against Maine is only ran for 72 yards, but he had 4 total touchdowns. Look for him to be the guy that punches in a score in the red zone, or catches a pass in the flat to muscle it in.

Ryan Nassib has performed well at quarterback, but his receivers have been making him look good as well. Van Chew and Alec Lemon have gotten the most attention, but senior Transfer Aaron Weaver is a huge guy and Syracuse will look to use him not only as a receiver, but even as a ball carrier on occasion. I have a feeling they will all have a pretty good game for Syracuse.

3. Defensive Style...Impact Defensive Players

LB Derrell Smith was the leader of the defense. He is a hard nosed, down and dirty linebacker and will hit hard, ask questions later. He, along with the rest of the defensive front, has one of the more impressive run defenses in the nation. He led Syracuse in tackles last season and will probably lead SU in the category against Maine.

Similarly, both Mikhail Marinovich and Chandler Jones on the defensive line are excellent at both run stoppage and pass rushing. They are difficult to stop, and while they don’t always get to the quarterback, they are usually able to provide some pressure on him and force bad throws. Both very good at what they do.

4. What have you seen in the first two games that needs to improve?

Pure execution is probably the biggest thing that needs improvement. In the Akron game Syracuse executed everything they tried to do and they won 29 to 3. Then they failed to do the same at Washington in the later part of the game and lost 41 to 20. Communication is the key and players being smart and doing their jobs will yield an even bigger improvement for the Orange.

After that it’s clearly the secondary. Syracuse’s biggest weakness over the past several seasons has been the pass defense. ‘Cuse boasted one of the best run defenses in the country last year, but would get blown out on passing and a lot of home run balls. While the secondary will not face a Heisman threat every week, they do need to get better in bump coverage and zone coverage. They seem perfectly content in letting players make a reception and then tackling rather than defending a pass or making a player miss his route.

5. How has Ryan Nassib's maturation process gone?

It is going as well as to be expected. He isn’t lighting the world on fire with passing records, but he is going out there and making good decisions. He can also run for a few first downs which is a bonus. Nassib also has shown the ability to put great touch on his passes or even gun them as he has a fairly strong arm. Overall fans are pleased with his progression so far and he’s clearly the correct player for the job right now. Although his back up is ridiculously good looking.

6. What are SU's biggest concerns when it comes to the UMaine game?

Special teams, special teams, and special teams. Through trickery Maine actually held a lead at the half last season. This year, Syracuse is a more experienced team, they have better freshmen now, and they do not have as many injuries. On top of all that, Syracuse will be prepared for such trickery this season and the damage shouldn’t be as bad. We hope. Either way, special teams is the weakest part of the entire Syracuse team right now. Therefore a stronger commitment to coverage and just being prepared for possible tricks, on offense as well, will be key to a dominant Syracuse victory.

Again, a big thanks to Brian for helping us out this week. You can also go to his site and see my write up on the University of Maine, and their chances this week. Check them out here.



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