2009 Syracuse Orange Football Preview
2008 Record: (3-9, 1-6)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Doug Marrone (First year at Syracuse, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rob Spence
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Shafer
Other Key Returnees: OT Tucker Baumbach, DE Jared Kimmel, WR Lavar Lobdell, C Jim McKenzie, LB Mike Mele, TE Mike Owen, CB Kevyn Scott, S Max Suter, WR Mike Williams
Key Losses: RB Curtis Brinkley, S A.J. Brown, OT Corey Chavers, G Ryan Durand, LB Jake Flaherty, DE Vincenzo Giruzzi, DT Nick Santiago, K Patrick Shadle, S Bruce Williams
After a dismal four years with Syracuse, Coach Greg Robinson was let go. Following a 3-9 campaign and ranking nearly last in every major category in the Big East, it was certainly time for a change. Coach Doug Marrone is the new man in town and he will definitely have his hands full. The Orange return seven starters on both sides of the ball, so he has some experienced players to work with, but Syracuse will be expected to bring up the bottom of the conference again this year.
The offense almost has potential, especially if receiver Mike Williams returns from academic limbo. He is easily the best playmaker the Orange have available. Receivers Donte Davis and Lavar Lobdell have potential and tight end Mike Owen is a decent safety valve for quarterback Cameron Dantley. Dantley may not have put up great numbers last year, but at least he threw 11 touchdowns and just five interceptions. It could have been a lot worse than that. His 48.2 percent completion percentage needs to get better, much better, but he is an experienced senior now and it cannot get much worse anyway. The problem on offense is the departure of running back Curtis Brinkley. While Dantley was throwing incomplete passes, Brinkley was occasionally moving the chains on the ground. Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey will have to pick up the load. Both have potential, but one of them better step up in a hurry.
Like the offense, the defense ranked near the bottom of every major category in the Big East. The front four rarely got into the backfield and tackle Arthur Jones and end Jared Kimmel need to do a better job getting into the backfield. Linebacker Derrell Smith and Mike Mele are a couple of quality linebackers. The team will miss Jake Flaherty, but the linebackers could turn into something to be proud of. It is the secondary that had the most problems during the 2008 campaign and that will probably not change this time around. Junior Mike Holmes will be starting for his third consecutive season and he keeps getting better and better, but the Orange need to find some other players who can stop the rest of the Big East from passing all over them.
The Bottom Line for the Orange:
Coach Marrone was a risky hire for Syracuse. Most big name coaches with more college coaching experience wanted nothing to do with the program. However, Coach Marrone could be the guy who can turn around this once proud program. It will not happen over night and it will not happen this year. It was not long ago when the Orange were going to bowl games and they could just as quickly turn things around in a positive direction. It might just be another few years. For now, showing signs of life and winning two conference games would be a step in the right direction.
By Joel Welser
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