Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wide Receivers Coming to Play in 2010

Three weeks into the football season, and the biggest surprise has been the improved play of the Orangemen's wide receiver group. Aside from Mike Williams' excellent numbers through the seven games he actually competed in during the 2009 season, Marcus Sales lead the team with 324 receiving yards. Alec Lemon had 29 catches to lead the team, one more than Marcus Sales.

So far in the 2010 football season, Marcus Sales has yet to sniff the field on game day. Doug Marrone left Sales off the depth chart to start the year and he was competing for the 4th receiver position. Perhaps it was fellow CBA alum Greg Paulus' presence in the huddle that got Sales the ball so often or perhaps it was the attention paid to Mike Williams which gave Sales the space to make plays. Regardless, Marcus Sales is a non-factor this season. Aaron Weaver's arrival on campus also played a part in moving Sales down the depth chart. However, after Weaver's season ending knee injury, Sales has still been no where to be found.

The biggest surprise so far this year is Van Chew. Not only does he have the coolest name on the team, he's also the most improved. Van Chew played in 11 games last year hauling in 6 catches for 66 yards. In the offseason, he added 10 pounds of muscle on his 6'1" frame pushing the scale to roughly 170lbs. Although we are only 3 games into his junior year, his numbers have him poised for a breakout season. He is currently leading the team with 16 catches for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. Granted we are not yet into the Big East schedule, but he is giving cuse fans all over reasons to believe. Van Chew and Ryan Nassib have seemed to develop great chemistry and he is Nassib's main down field threat on game day.

Sophomore Alec Lemon has also been a regular target for QB Ryan Nassib. Lemon has 12 catches for 141 yards and 3 TDs through 3 games. Aside from a slow start versus Maine where he dropped a few passes early, he has been a consistent compliment to Van Chew. He recovered well against Maine, finishing the night with 5 catches for 58 yards and 2 TDs after a disappointing start. He's more of a slot receiver than the down field threat that Chew presents. At 6'2" 196 pounds he is the biggest receiver left on the team after the injury to Hofstra transfer Aaron Weaver. He's going to need that size when going over the middle versus the heavy hitting teams in the Big East.

Unfortunately for the Orangemen, senior Aaron Weaver (who came to Syracuse after Hofstra cut their football program) was lost for the season during practice leading up to the Dome opener. In two games he had 6 grabs for 88 yards and a touchdown. As the biggest target of the receiving core, he was looking to make a name for himself as the 3rd receiver on the team. His loss leaves the Orangemen with two reliable receivers and a few question marks.

In the first week with Weaver's absence, Syracuse's Tight Ends stepped up. Nick Provo had a career day with 5 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Syracuse was hoping they would get some depth at WR from players such as Dorian Graham, Cody Morgan and last year's receiving option Marcus Sales, although they were all non-factors.

What can we attribute this improved play to? Other than a year of experience there is no denying Rob Moore's influence in this group's performance. Hired in the off-season to help bring the WR group to a level of respectability, he has far exceeded his expectations early in the season. Moore graduated from Syracuse in 1990 as the teams All-time touchdown receptions leader with 22, and the 3rd most receiving yards in team history. Syracuse was a combined 29-6-1 during his time at the school. He played 12 seasons in the NFL with 3 trips to the pro-bowl. He is doing a fantastic job as the Wide Receivers coach and this cuse fan is happy to have him aboard!

Marrone has been quoted this week as saying Marcus Sales will see some time on the field this week versus Colgate (Saturday 3:30), as he has the most experience of the remaining WR options. If he wants to get on the field, he will have to show Marrone he is capable this week on the practice field.

photo courtesy of the daily orange.


SyracuseIsGodsTeam said...

This is very encouraging for the team as I did not expect the receiver corps to be that good. We need to pass teams into the ground until they are forced to respect it and have to pull guys from the box. Then, the running game should start to open up and we will have a balanced attack. I thought the O-line gave Nassib decent pass protection on Saturday albeit FCS Maine. If the O-line can improve and we punish people with the pass Carter and Bailey will be breaking the century mark soon enough.

Michael Isserlis said...

I don't think anyone expected the receivers to come out flying like this. The running game needs to get going and I will address that in a future post. In the mean time if Nassib keeps throwing touchdowns defenses will have to respect it and that will open up room for DC3 on the line of scrimmage. Thanks for commenting!

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