Friday, August 24, 2007

Five Key Issues for Syracuse

1. More adversity:

Tight end Tom Ferron, the team's leading receiver a year ago, phoned in his resignation two days before the start of camp. Freshman linebacker Jermaine Pierce, the prize of the recruiting class and a man among college students on the practice field, was forced to quit because of a blood-clotting issue. It just seems, sometimes, that bad news comes in waves.

(Syracuse like UW is rebuilding, and maybe a year behind UW chronologically in the process.)

2. The linebackers:

The departure of Pierce and a concussion to backup middle linebacker Mike Stenclik underscored the vulnerability, lack of depth and anxiety about the linebacker unit. If starting middle linebacker Jake Flaherty gets injured, his backups are true freshman Mike Mele and walk-on Oliver Fernandez. It remains to be seen how Robinson and defensive coordinator Steve Russ scheme around a shaky unit.

( The UW Fullbacks, and TE's will have a signifigant advantage, and that is one reason the media hasn't seen them used in practice like they will be in the opener.)

3. Curtis Brinkley:

The starting tailback for the Orange has had arthroscopic surgery on each knee since last season. Brinkley has been strategically limited in preseason camp. More has gradually been added in spoonfuls to his plate each day. Brinkley has revealed flashes of his speed and his trademark cutback skills. His durability remains a question, though backups Paul Chiara, Jeremy Sellers and Derrell Smith have improved and are easing some of the anxiety over the position.

(UW needs to stop the running game and put pressure on the QB)

4. Positions of strength:

Two units distanced themselves from the rest of the team with their talent, skill and execution, the wide receivers and the defensive line. These units look stacked. Compared to where the receiving position was two years ago, the transformation is stunning. Mike Williams and Taj Smith are play-makers at receiver and primed for big seasons. The defensive line, led by Jameel McClain, Tony Jenkins and Arthur Jones, has more depth and good-looking football players than any SU team in eons. They'll need to play big to take pressure off the linebackers.

(This is going to be a key test for the young Washington offensive line. It is also going to be a test for our defensive backfield since we should be able to shut down their run game.)

5. Andrew Robinson:

This is the guy Major Applewhite and Greg Robinson hand-picked during the summer recruiting period in 2005 to fit the West Coast system at Syracuse. Andrew Robinson has been on campus just a little more than a year, but he is the new face of Syracuse football. Coaches have praised his intellect, leadership and skill. He desperately needs the offensive line to eradicate its protection issues in order for the offense to function, but Robinson has looked solid with his deliveries, his decisions and his command of the offense.

(Getting pressure on the young QB is a recipe of success for UW against the Orange. this kid is going to be pretty good, but hopefully he won't blossom against UW.)

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