Tomorrow night at 7:15pm the Syracuse University Orangemen will be taking on the Black Bears of Maine at the Carrier Dome. The game will be televised live on SNY, so those of us who may have to eat a large family dinner that night (and their families aren't as "dedicated" to the cause as we are) will have to DVR the game and watch on a bit of a tape delay.
Assuming all goes to plan and we can watch the game here's what we can expect: the unexpected.
Last year, the Black Bears came into the dome with a ton of trick plays and goofy stunts. Yes, there were fake punts. Yes, there were onside kicks. Yes, there was a ton of tom foolery. Infact, maine successfully pulled off TWO! fake punts..... AND two! count em TWO! onside kicks!! Will that happen again this year? I'm unsure, but hopefully syracuse won't get fooled again. Bob Casullo, we're looking at you!!
The previous meeting found Maine beating Syracuse in the dome 17-13 at halftime. However, Syracuse's offense prevailed in the 2nd half, winning the game 41-24 behind Delone Carter's "Al Bundy" performance. Yes, that's 4 touchdowns in a single game for you young folks out there.
In 2010, Syracuse enters the game 1-1, coming off a beat-down at the hands of the Washington Huskies. Maine enters the Dome 1-1 as well, after opening their season with a 3-0 loss to Albany. Yes, that's 3-0 and no, its not 1894. In their 2nd game, they managed a more respectable score, a 31-23 victory over Monmouth. You don't know what that school is. I don't know what that school is. Regardless, Syracuse won't just sleepwalk their way to victory, they are going to have to come to play!
By now the reality has set in for Syracuse fans. Aaron Weaver is done for the year. The biggest target for Ryan Nassib will be replaced most likely by junior Marcus Sales. If and when he proves himself not up to the task, we can count on speedy Dorian Graham to replace him as the 3rd wide-out. Hopefully, he will do enough to keep the walk-ons off the field.
As far as the running game for Syracuse is concerned, it will be difficult for Carter to top his 3 rushing TDs (and 1 receiving TD), however his 19 carries for 72 yards could be improved. I'm going to look for Antwon Bailey to get more involved in the offense this week as he could be the 3rd receiving option the Orange will desperately need out of the backfield.
Syracuse defense will hopefully stuff the run. The secondary was starting to give me reason to believe up until the second half of the Washington game. That's when their old habits of bad coverage and even worse tackling started to come to the surface. Not to single anyone out, but Da'Mon Merkerson, I'M LOOKING AT YOU! This kid simply can not tackle.
On a softer note, Syracuse University will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Carrier Dome on this night. Speaking of the Dome, the Orangemen haven't won a home opener since 2004. Lets see about changing that, shall we?
photo courtesy of espn.com