Looking At The Big East: Syracuse

The Syracuse football program had its ups and downs in the past decade. After going 4-8 in 2009, the Orange overachieved last season with an 8-5 record, reaching an impressive 5-1 on the road.

Head coach Doug Marrone helped Syracuse get over the .500 mark for the first time since 2001. Under Marrone, Syracuse players believe they can improve on that record this season. Defensive End Chandler Jones credits much of the success to his third-year head coach.

“He does a good job of getting us hyped up before a game,” says Jones. “Just letting us know we have the world against us. We went out and beat South Florida and West Virginia and Cincinnati. Those are three tough road games that we’ve played and came out on top.”

((Below is an interview with Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones))

This year the Orange will return seven starters on offense five on defense. Senior Running Back Antwon Bailey will be looking to take the starting running back role after the departure of Delone Carter to the NFL.

“We are definitely a team on the rise,” says Bailey. “We’ve done it through characteristics that Coach Marrone has been able to instill in us. Those include responsibility, accountability, discipline and hard work. Those core things were able to get us over that hump, to that winning season, and to a bowl game.”

Syracuse beat Kansas State last December in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium. The win meant a lot to a rebuilding Syracuse program.

“There was nothing like winning a bowl game in the state that you play football in,” says Bailey. “I felt like we were playing in front of a home crowd in the first pinstripe bowl ever so it was a great experience.”

((Below is an interview with Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey))

Offensively, the Orange will look for leadership from senior quarterback Ryan Nassib. After a successful campaign last year, Bailey believes his team won’t change much offensively.

“I don’t think much has changed in the offense,” says Bailey. “We’re a smash-mouth team. We’re going to line up and hit you in the mouth. That’s not going to change with me taking the role of the starting running back.”

As far as the defense goes, Jones feels like his coaching staff has enabled him to use the best of his talents.

“Coach Scott Shafer, he runs an attack 4-3 defense,” says Jones. “One thing I like about it is that the defensive ends get a little bit of a free range to do whatever. It’s not like it’s wild and barbarian, but part of it is wild. He tells you, ‘if you mess up, mess up 100%.’ He’s not a guy that’s going to stay on you. If you’re going 100% he’s not going to get on you.”

With 13 seniors expected to start and the same offense and defense strategies to continue improving upon, Syracuse could be in shape for another winning season.

The Orange will, however, have to open against Wake Forest and then fly to Los Angeles to take on the USC Trojans before beginning Big East play. Should the team play well in and out of conference, Syracuse could be looking at another Bowl bid.

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