2012 Syracuse Orange Football Preview2011 Record: 5-7, 1-6 Big East
2011 Bowl Game: N/A
Head Coach: Doug Marrone
Odds to win Big East: 25/1
Sometimes things don’t quite go as expected when it comes to college football offense and defenses, because for the Orange, it was expected that their offense would excel last season, yet offensively they ranked a very poor 84th in the nation, averaging only 24.2 points per contest. Their defense, conversely, was expect to struggle, and it was slightly better than the offense, ranking 73rd in the nation, allowing only 28.5 points per game.
What you notice, however, is that while the defense was good, it wasn’t quite good enough (or maybe the offense, wasn’t!), because the Orange averaged a defeat and ended up with a losing record.
Doug Marrone has decided to take a different approach in 2012 and has gone to a more ground oriented game, which should help QB Ryan Nassib thrive more, as he still managed to pass for 2,700 yards last year with very little help from the backs. Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley, and freshman Adonis Ameen Moore will do the work running the ball this year, but true freshman Aston Broyld could also be a huge bonus as he is a versatile QB capable of both running the ball and putting it in the air. It will take time for him to adjust to Marrone’s offense, but once he does, he could significantly aid the Orange’s offense.
Syracuse’s defense, as I hinted at already, was NOT good. They ranked last in the Big East in defense, allowing a horrendous 386.4 yards per game, while also surrendering 28.5 points per game in 2011. They made few impressive plays, few game changers, and allowed a lot of big plays at the long time, which will spell trouble for any defensive unit, of course.
However, the Orange do return four linebackers and they will have a nice defensive interior on the line. What hurts is the loss of three defensive ends (Chandler Jones was an all-conference performer and Deon Goggins was moved from tackle to end, due to position scarcity).
The secondary should be strong with senior strong safety Shamarko Thomas leading the way. The 4-3 scheme should also benefit cornerbacks Keon Lyn and Ri’shard Anderson. Wayne Morgan, a freshman, will also see expensive time at CB as the Orange seek to build for the future.
Overall, the defense should be quicker and better, but that isn’t saying much, because it was both expected to be good last year, and improvement won’t mean much when it already ranked last. Defense remains a huge question mark for the Orange.
Marrone is now also the special teams coach. Junior field goal kicker Ross Krautman should help the Orange when they can’t penetrate the ball deep, as he hit 15 of 19 last year. Their punter, Jonathan Fisher, averaged 39.3 yards per punt as a freshman. Ryan Norton, a true freshman, also could play a significant role in kickoffs, which is a deficiency that needed to be addressed anyway.
The strong 2010 campaign led to high expectations in 2011, but expectations that were completely unfulfilled. The Orange look to build mediocrity into decency this year, and Marrone may be a huge reason why — if it happens. However, their non-conference games will be difficult, with opponents such as USC, Northwestern, Missouri, and Minnesota.
“The challenge is getting the talent level up to the schedule,” Marrone commented, stating the rather obvious. The Orange do have talent. But that isn’t always enough to translate to success, and making a bowl game is imperative this season after having no post season rally last year following the five straight losses to end the year after a decent 5-2 start.