Brushing with Colgate

SU takes to the field for its second straight home game Saturday against Colgate.

During a broadcast last weekend, Syracuse alum and ESPN broadcaster Sean McDonough shared something that should be music to the ears of Syracuse football fans. While talking to Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, McDonough said that the offensive guru was impressed with the Orange after their visit to out west. Sarkisian said SU should be playing in a bowl game this year.

If you tell that to Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, he probably won’t put much stock into it. He knows that in order to not only reach a bowl game this year but make it a yearly occurrence, consistency is key. After last week’s 38-14 home opening win against Maine, Marrone still pinpointed areas of needed improvement as they prepare for their match-up with Colgate at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 3:30.

Two glaring weaknesses from last week’s win were the fourteen penalties committed and five dropped passes. At his weekly press conference, Marrone said he was bothered at the gradual increase in dropped balls from game one to now.

“That’s something we have to make sure that we do a better job of,” Marrone said. “We will work on that this week. It’s exciting to sit here, getting our second win, winning our home opener. Maine is a heck of a team. They gave us everything we could handle obviously in the first half. The penalties are a concern. Right now, we have too many penalties against us and it’s hurting us as far as field position and what we need to do.”

Marrone noted the growing pains expected when building a program. The goal is to eventually be able to come out of the gates running especially over lesser talented teams.

“The best thing you can get out of it is winning,” he said. “When you win games, you’re always going to be faced with some type of adversity most of the time unless you dominate from the beginning to end. We want to be at that stage. We’re building to be at that stage, but we’re not there now.”

 Of course coaches will find the negatives even with a win, but there were positives. Junior quarterback Ryan Nassib threw a program record five touchdowns. After going down 14-7 to the Black Bears, the Orange scored 31 unanswered points and got much needed support from the receiving core. It was also the first home opening win for SU since a 19-7 win over Cincinnati on September 18, 2004.

Colgate, who was ranked 25th in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) to start the season, is coached by Dick Biddle.  They are coming off a 45-15 loss to Furman. However, much like the mindset against Maine, Marrone is not taking this game lightly. He knows that Colgate and other teams in the Patriot League conference execute flawlessly on both sides of the ball.

“Watching Colgate and watching other teams in that division, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the coaching as far as schemes, systems, people attacking each other,” Marrone said. “It’s an unbelievable respect that I have for the coaches in that conference. They (Colgate) have a great system. They are calling plays for a specific reason.”

Colgate is led by junior running back Nate Eachus. Last week he became the fifteenth back in program history to rush for 2,000 yards in his career. He compiled 134 yards and a score on 28 carries last week.

Marrone did not hold back from praising the man he will see on the opposing sidelines. He says Biddle is one of a fraternity of area coaches who breed successful coaches. He expects to see a balanced and disciplined Colgate team due to their coaches’ knowledge of the game.

“When you start looking in this region, you know Bob Ford (Albany), coach Biddle, coach Butterfield (former Ithaca College coach died in 2002),” Marrone said. “You look at those coaches and then look at all the coaches that they’ve had and where they are now, what a great place to start. They are the cradle for developing coaches for the future.”

Series renewed

This will be the first game between Syracuse and Colgate since 1987. Under the direction of Dick MacPherson, Syracuse won the game 52-6.

The rivalry dates back to 1891 and is the second oldest series in program history with the two teams playing each other 65 times. Penn State holds the title of most games played against Syracuse with 70.

Marrone looks forward to the Central New York gridiron clash.

“There are a lot of good things going on with Syracuse and Colgate,” he said. “It’s Central New York. I think a lot of people are going to be able to come from Colgate. It’s a good game for Central New York.”

Colgate leads the series which used to be played every year, 31-29-5.

Big East honors for SU trio

Senior cornerback Mike Holmes, junior Ryan Nassib and junior defensive end Chandler Jones garnered Big East weekly performance honors.

Holmes was tops among the trio however, being named The Big East special teams player of the week. He returned two punts for 66 yards. One of his returns went for a career-high 62 yards.  Holmes was named the Big East defensive player of the year on September 6.

During Nassib’s record setting day, he completed 19-of-28 passes and threw for a career high 260 yards.

Jones recorded seven tackles, two sacks and forced two fumbles.

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