Monday, March 7, 2011

Syracuse Orangemen 2010 Review

2010 Record: 8-5 (4-3), 4th Big East
2010 Bowl Game: Pinstripe Bowl, Defeated Kansas State 36-34
2010 Schedule/Results
@ Akron, W 29-3
@ Washington, L 41-20
Maine, W 38-14
Colgate, W 42-7
@ South Florida, W 13-9
Pittsburgh, L 45-14
@ West Virginia, W 19-14
@ Cincinnati, W 31-7
Louisville, L 28-20
@ Rutgers, W 13-10
UConn, L 23-6
Boston College, L 16-7
Kansas State, W 36-34


     I would call Syracuse one of my top surprise teams of 2010, and they were a big surprise, but here's the reality check. Syracuse won 8 games on the back of beating FCS lightweights Maine and Colgate. Add wins against Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Akron, and you have 5 wins against bad teams and only 3 wins against credibly good football teams. It's still a solid season, but let's beef it up some.
     Ryan Nassib was probably the best QB Syracuse has had in a decade, but that's not saying much. Even then, Nassib was not great, but not horrible. He did get credit for only tossing 8 picks against 19 TDs, which is huge, but he only passed for 179.5 yards per game, so the passing game was not exactly what I would call technical.
      Delone Carter was the true star on offense, as he rushed for 1233 yards and 9 TDs on the year, which was still only the third best performance overall in the Big East. Antwon Bailey, his backup, was solid on the season, gaining 554 yards, and will get first crack at replacing Carter in 2011.
     Van Chew was the main attraction at receiver in 2010, having caught 41 passes for 611 yards and 5 scores. No other receiver came close to his production, but then again, as I said earlier, the passing game is not wide open by any stretch.
     The Orangemen made major strides on the defensive side in 2010, which is where their strength lies. Syracuse only allowed 157.6 yards passing, and allowed only 137.4 yards per game rushing on the season, major numbers for a team that has been beleaguered for years.
     Derrell Smith was incredible, having racked up 114 tackles on the season, 72 of which were solo. Doug Hogue added 95 tackles, while Phillip Thomas picked up 92, all showing terrific productivity.
     Hogue was highly aggressive from his LB spot, finding his way into the backfield to collect 10.5 TFLs on the season. Hogue was a senior in 2010, so his high fired motor will be hard to replace in 2011. Smith and LB Marquise Spruill both collected 9.5 TFLs on the season to give Syracuse one of the more dynamic defenses in the Big East. The area that was lacking was the area of sacks, which nobody collected more than 4.5 on the season. That will need some work.
     Da'Mon Merckerson ended his senior season on a high note, as he led the team in passbreakups with 6. The Cuse was lacking on the INTs however, as nobody had more than 2, and Syracuse had only 9 all season.
     One area that had no concern was the kicking game under Ross Krautman's leg. Krautman was nearly automatic as he connected on 18 of his 19 FG attempts on the season, and his leg was the difference in at least two games right off the top. Rob Long was solid as can be as well, as he averaged over 43 yards per punt on the season.


It's always nice to win 8 games including a bowl, but as I said, it's an illusion coming off of weak competition right now. When Syracuse played better teams, they folded like a cheap chair. The Orangemen have got to toughen up the schedule to get a true bearing on where the program is, but this schedule was good for teaching the kids how to win, which is a difficult thing to do when a culture of losing has set in, and that certainly was the case for a long while here. Doug Marrone is doing a solid job, but things can get better, and they should. Syracuse obviously has hired the right guy to lead the program out of the dark ages.

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