Thursday, October 7, 2010

Syracuse at South Florida: The Quest for 4-1


It's been a long time since the Syracuse football team had a game. Coming out of the bye week with plenty of rest, the Orangemen will travel to Tampa, Florida to take on the University of South Florida Bulls. Many of you will quickly realize that Tampa isn't in the south of Florida at all, but rather on the west coast, and you will be correct. It's probably the same shock USF fans have when they find out Syracuse isn't in the heart of NYC.

Meanwhile, both squads come into the game carrying a 3-1 record and a share of the three-way tie atop the Big East. The one knock against both teams is that their combined 6 victories came against teams with a combined 2-10 record, giving fans of both teams a lot of uncertainty.

The biggest news story at USF this off-season was the dismissal of the only head coach the school has ever known, Jim Leavitt. Jim Leavitt, who was 95-57 at USF, had just completed the 2nd year of a 7 year contract worth $12.6 million when news broke that he had grabbed a player by the throat (or shoulder pads) and may have allegedly slapped the player as well. While Leavitt denied hitting the player and said he merely was trying to motivate a player during halftime, the school ultimately was very upset because not only did Leavitt lie about the incident, he also went to coaches and players and told them to lie about it as well. Apparently thats a big no-no at USF, and he was fired January 8th, 2010.

The new head coach at USF is Skip Holtz, son of legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz. Skip is 75-51 all-time as a head coach, coming to South Florida after a five year coaching stint at East Carolina. Many Syracuse fans will remember his name mentioned when SU was looking for a replacement for Greg Robinson. Skip Holtz turned down the offer. Time for some sweet revenge cuse fans!! Let's make him wish he took that job!

As we all should know by now, Syracuse has never beaten the Bulls from South Florida. In the 5 years since USF joined the Big East, Syracuse has lost every game (0-5) and been outscored by an average of 24.2 points per game. The Bulls have also rushed for 814 more yards than the Orangemen have. Needless to say, its time for some pay back. What better way to return the favor of being whooped up on by USF these last 5 years than to beat them in their own building?

Leading the Orangemen into Tampa are Ryan Nassib and Delone Carter. Delone Carter is coming off a game against Colgate where he rushed for 172 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ryan Nassib enters the game as the Big East leader in passing efficiency, and 9 TD passes with just 2 interceptions. Both will have to be effective and protect the football if Syracuse wants to walk out of Raymond James Stadium with a W.

Syracuse's defense will have their work cut out for them. BJ Daniels, USF's dual threat at QB, has had a slow start to the season. Although coming off a solid week of work against Florida Atlantic, his season stats are just 41 completions in 72 attempts for 560 yards, 4TDs and 5INTs. Not very frightening stats but when you factor in his ability to run the ball (187 yards on the year with 2 TDs), stopping Daniels will be a true challenge for a defensive unit that hasn't seen much from a QB not named Jake Locker.

USF has two running backs to watch for: Moise Plancher and Demetris Murray. Murray sat out the Florida Atlantic game with an ankle injury, however he is expected to be in uniform on Saturday. Murray has 223 yards on 36 carries with 1 TD. Plancher ran for 2 TDs last week and 93 yards to give him 231 yards on the season with 4 TDs. Leading receiver on the team is Evan Landi (6'3" 221lbs) who has caught 12 balls for 215 yards, no touchdowns. Dontavia Bogan leads the WR group with 2 TD catches, with 8 balls overall for 152 yards. Matching up against our own Van Chew for Best Name in the Game Contest is Stephen Bravo-Brown, a WR with 6 catches for 80 yards.

The game will be televised live on SNY at 12:00PM. Syracuse will try to hold onto their share of 1st place with a victory, and a win would push their record to 4-1 for the first time since 1999 when Coach P lead the team to a 7-5 overall record. That team was littered with stars like Dwight Freeney, Keith Bulluck, David Tyree, Morlon Greenwood and TROY NUNES on the roster.

Note: The 1999 team should have been 5-0, but Troy Nunes made mistake after mistake in the Carrier Dome on September 18th against Michigan and Syracuse lost 18-13. A young fan from Long Island went devastated into Cosmos for a post game meal that night. He would never forget the name Troy Nunes.

photo courtesy of syracuse.com

1 comment:

orangetiff said...

That really puts the robinson era into perspective...we have never beaten USF...i can't believe i just typed that

iI like our chances in this game though. Their defensive line is nothing like the group from last year that put two guys in the NFL (5 guys in all were drafted). They are good still, but we should be able to protect Nassib and open up holes for DC3