kcleach's Blog

Can Syracuse football trick the Bearcats on Saturday?

Fifth-ranked Cincinnati comes to the Carrier Dome for a noon Big East game. The top offense in the country gets the fast surface against a porous Orange defensive backfield.

The day of ghouls, witches and ghosts is upon the SU football team.

MIKE WILLIAMS: Halftime Snack has seen suspensions before.  Seen repeat suspensions. Offender does the time, and everyone moves on. Williams is the best wide receiver in the Big East and should get every opportunity. The playbook is always a guess with SU, and getting M-Dubz going early will keep it loud in the Dome. Recently named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to the nation’s top receiver, Williams averages 118.7 yards per game and stands alongside the all-time great Orange receivers Rob Moore and Marvin Harrison.

FREE IS THE BEST:  All SU students will be admitted to Saturday’s game for free with a valid student ID. The school takes away MayFest (or SU Showcase) and gives a little nugget back. How about let the fans in for free to see Jim Boeheim get his 800th as well?

FEED THE HUNGRY: Patrick Alvarez literally rose off the street of New York City, is a sophomore at SU and is the president of Project Feed Me.  Joined by the New York Knicks, Project Feed Me will host a basketball tournament in Archbold Gymnasium on Sunday at 1 p.m. Read the profile of Alvarez by Wayne Coffey of the New York Daily News, and after you decide to join him in fighting hunger, read about the basketball event in The Daily Orange.

COSTUMES: It’s Friday, you have one day left before Halloween. Take the morning to decide on an idea. Be focused. Less is more.  Write down five things. Take Number 2. Go to Boom Babies on Wescott Street. Live like a kid again. There are a couple of costume contests on Saturday (one at the football game, and one at field hockey).  Top five ideas I’ve heard so far:  journalist, Pink Power Ranger, cowboy, Indian and Skeeter Valentine. Just look here.


    Cincinnati 50, Syracuse 17 – One team made its quarterback decision early in the week, the other won’t soon enough on Saturday. Syracuse has little success shutting down high-powered offenses, showing little resistance in the defensive backfield. Lots of tricks, and lots of treats, for the ghoulish parade set to kick off in the Dome.

    Game of the Week – Central Michigan at Boston College.  Halftime Snack is sick of the big conference super-matchups. I like Maroon picking off the ACC team on Chestnut Hill.  Let’s go with a 20-14 victory here for CMU.

    Campus quirk – Halftime Snack left N.Y. in 2002 and the Yankees stopped getting to the World Series.  Return in 2009, and look what happens: the Bronx Bombers move out of the old ballpark, move the fences in on the new one, spend $160 million for a pitcher and saunter into the World Series.

    They Said It –  “And the epic nine-pitch at-bat by Alex Rodriguez, ended in a strikeout. Alas,”  Jon Miller, ESPN Radio play-by-play, describing the best thing that has happened to the Yankee third baseman so far this World Series.

“I feel good about my arm strength, and where that’s at,” Greg Paulus, during in mid-week interviews.

Field Hockey hosts cheap Halloween party

The No. 5 ranked Orange field hockey team closes the regular season against Rutgers on Oct. 31; game time is 1 p.m.

After getting tricked in Boston last weekend, the Syracuse field hockey team looks to treat the fans on Saturday.
The Orange returns to J.S. Coyne Stadium on Halloween after spending the past two weekends watching the leaves change across the Northeast.
The final game of the regular season is a great time to start a new streak: SU looks to wrap up the outright Big East Conference regular season title against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 1:00 p.m. The Orange has won the previous five matchups, including a 7-1 win in Piscataway, N.J., last season.
Saturday’s game has special meaning for SU hockey:
It is Senior Day and a special celebration is planned for senior forward Tracy Deitrick (below), graduate goalie Ashleigh McGowan and junior Lena Voelmle.  Also, the team is trying to break the attendance record at Coyne (862, set in 2008), giving out gifts to all fans that come to the game with a Halloween costume (pdf).
The Orange (15-2, 5-0 Big East), currently ranked No. 5 in the nation, will be the top seed at the upcoming Big East Championships in Providence, R.I. SU won the Big East tournament in 2008, and advanced to the national semifinals.
After winning 5-3 at Villanova last Friday to clinch a share of the Big East regular season championship, the Orange were hard-luck losers on Chestnut Hill at No. 10 Boston College on Sunday (just the fourth loss in 41 contests).  The loss brought an abrupt end to a 12-game win streak, an impressive run in a schedule that featured 10 nationally-ranked teams.
The team’s first trip to New England, on Oct. 17, produced a thrilling 3-2 double overtime win at rival Connecticut. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the trip with this video produced by Mike Tressa:

Whiteboard Video: Delone Carter's 4th quarter TD

Halftime Snack breaks down the Orange's final score against Akron.

With a 21-14 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, the Orange took advantage of the 40-pound average advantage on the offensive line. A 53-yard run by senior running back Delone Carter gave the Orange second-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Syracuse simplified its attack, putting quarterback Greg Paulus under center (two shotgun snaps earlier in the day had gone awry) while bringing in both tight ends into the single-back formation.

Carter got the hand off, ran behind big right tackle Jonathan Muldrum into the end zone for his third rushing touchdown of the game.

Carter ended the day with career-highs in rushing yards (170) and rush attempts (30), while the Orange as a team accounted for a season-high 234 yards.

Another day where Mike Williams is missed

Syracuse wide receiver Mike Williams has been suspended for the Akron game. SU Athletics press release states: "due to a violation of team rules.”

Halftime Snack has been an ardent fan of all things Mike, including the top wide receiver in the Big East Conference Mike Williams, and spent Saturday longing to see M-Dubz. Here’s an account of the rainy day inside the Dome:

1:47 p.m.:  The quarterbacks are the story entering today’s game, with the bubbling SU controversy and the third-string starter for the Zips.  Warming up in sweats t-shirts, the signal callers lob passes to the wide receivers making 25-yard circles, in and out of the end zone.  Halftime Snack searches and searches the field, wondering if Williams cut his hair. Where is he?  Is that him? No, that is Delone Davis in white shoes. M-Dubz likes his shoes black.

2:15:  SU Athletics releases a tight-written press release under 70 words, tweaked by Sue Edson, adjunct professor at the S.I. Newhouse School Of Public Communications and legendary sports information director at SU. Doors to Carrier Dome have already opened; Halftime Snack considers going home.

3:44:  When the Orange ran the bubble screen for the first time, and Marcus Sales got nine yards. And to think the SU offense was going to try and get the primary receiver involved early.

4:06:  SU fan in blue #44 jersey, with hat backwards and face unshaven, proposes to fiancé on KissCam via Dome video board. Lucky lady nods “yes,” and Halftime Snack thinks of lost love, Mike Williams, and dreams about what could have been. Watch this music video by Justin Timberlake to sum up our feelings.

5:00:  the SU Marching Band broke out songs by another dazzling Mike—Michael Jackson—and performs long-awaited “Thriller Dance” as part of tribute to the late King of Pop. Halftime Snack misses both Michaels.



Otto the Orange


Photo by Mitchell Franz, TheNewshouse.com

5:37: Orange wide receiver Marcus Sales has been running Williams’ routes today.  Sales cashes in third touchdown of season on 11 yard inside screen. Williams is unseen, and Sales was untouched.

6:14: Rumors about cryptic messages posted by Williams on Facebook run rampant in press box (something to the tune of "I hate college, I'll be gone sooner than you know"). New media can be unreliable, but oh so juicy. The post-game press conference should be a battle of questions with no answers.

6:40: Williams' not at post-game press conference, color choice with dapper shirts and ties is missed by all.  Murmurs persist.

6:51: SU head coach Doug Marrone says Williams will be reinstated for next week's Cincinnati game; won't comment further.


AKRON AIR: The “Spirit of Akron” is a high-flying blimp that towers over large-scale sporting events. The needled that popped the Zips’ kicking game took place with 7:50 left in the first half. It started when Akron sideline called time out just before the 51-yard attempt.. The 2009 Akron kicking game is not. Place kicker Broko Rocovic missed two field actual field goals after blimp is burst.  Punter John Stec has a punt tipped, giving SU field position at the Akron 27-yard line.  Two rub salt in Stec’s wound, backup punter Zack Campbell comes in to boom 76-yard punt (third-longest in program history). It was just the fifth kick by Campbell all season.

MIKE JONES:  The No. 2 offensive weapon on SU, gaining over 24.3 yards per kick off return (681 total return yards), is seen limping on the opening kickoff.  Trouble is: he wasn’t. Jones appears again on the first Akron punt, promptly muffing the fair catch, which is recovered by the Zips. Jones more than makes up for the miscue, totaling 59 yards on the day. He showed little hesitation with eight minutes to go in the second quarter, taking an end around up the left side for a 17-yard gain (career-best). Tack on a personal foul for late-hit by the Zips and the play accounted for 32 net yards.

Halftime Snack just finished the second season of “The Wire,” and saw the pride in which dockworkers in Baltimore are thought to approach their tough job, day-in and day-out. Syracuse punter Rob Long exhibits that same attitude. Despite sporting a wrap around his upper leg and knee, Long proved once again to be bright spot for the Orange. Syracuse executed a pooch punt mid-way through the first quarter and Long, the holder, raced past the Akron players to down the ball at the Zips’ five-yard line. His first punt of the day was a 44-yarder, his second punt Long cleanly fielded a one-hop snap and his third pinned the Zips at the 8-yard line.

PLAYER OF THE GAME:  This is a no-brainer with SU running back Delone Carter again dominating a weak opponent.  Carter amassed career-highs in rushing attempts (30), rushing yards (170) while accounting for three touchdowns to boost his career total to TK.  In games against Maine and Akron, Carter has followed the big bodies on the SU offensive line to total 249 yards on 49 attempts with six rushing touchdowns.

JACKS OF ALL TRADES: Akron fifth-year senior Andre Jones became just the second player in the country to play three positions this season. Jones has started three games at cornerback and one at safety before making starting at wide receiver on Saturday. He scored the Zips’ first touchdown, hooking up with quarterback Patrick Nicely on a post pattern from 11 yards out (his first TD of the season and the eighth of his career). 

THEY SAID IT:  “We welcome back Mike Williams, and E.J. Carter (suspended SU linebacker) back, to our team, reinstated immediately after this game.”  – SU head coach Doug Marrone, opening his post-game remarks about suspended players

“Just feeling comfortable again, getting used to having the ball in my hands that much.  I felt that is something I should do all the time.”  SU running back Delone Carter when asked how carrying the ball a career-high 30 times felt.

“Every week, there’s competition. Everyone has to hold their job. It doesn’t matter if it’s the quarterback, the kicker, the right guard, the left tackle, the nose guard… the safety.” – Marrone clarifying any position controversies on the team

“It was difficult, but this is a resilient group,” Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart about having to use different players at different positions

Football Friday - Akron

Syracuse football returns after the bye week to find the Zips from Akron in town.

Mike Williams: Halftime Snack sorely missed #1 during the bye week, dreaming away the days with visions of him soaring high over cornerbacks to snatch footballs from the air.  Walks along Comstock Avenue, clutching a wrinkled snapshot just trying to fill the void.  Low and behold, loud voices and bouncing basketballs slipping through the windows of the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.  

Which Baller Are You?  The line between football and basketball is blurred on this campus, given the lore of M. Dubz’ dunking ability and that point guard playing quarterback. Halftime Snack felt the hoopsters in the C-Kay might want a chance on gridiron.  Here are some responses:

 “I’d be playing quarterback, too.” – #1 Andy Rautins
 “Man, I’m being either the kicker or the punter; I’m not getting hit.” – #2 Nick Resavy
 “I wanna play wide receiver. I like the ball going up, trying to use my athleticism to go over somebody.” – #11 Scoop Jardine (pictured right, courtesy SUathletics.com) 
“I played tight end and defensive end in high school.” – #21 Arinze Onuaku
 “I was a wide receiver. I’m also a great quarterback., but I didn’t want to learn the fundamentals to it. I didn’t want to learn the drop-backs, the handoffs.” – #25 Brandon Trische

Akron: Facts about the mid-size city in Ohio abound.  
1) King James is from there (Yes, Halftime Snack lives in a LeBron world) 
2) Goodyear, massive tire company, founded in 1898 in East Akron along the Little Cuyahoga River.  Famous blimp bears name, “The Spirit of Akron”
3) National Football League has its Hall of Fame just down the road in Canton
4) Soap Box Derby World Championships held in Akron – first national race was in 1934

The clamor to fill the football void drove Halftime Snack over to SU Soccer Stadium to see the local futbol side welcome the sunshine boys from South Florida.  The 10th ranked Bulls plowed through the chilly weather, snapping off a 3-0 victory. Highlight was the second goal, in the 76th minute, when USF’s Sebastian Thuriere rocketed a shop into the upper 90 from just outside the 18-yard.

    Syracuse 44, Akron 21 – High-scoring action returns to the Dome turf.  Opposing quarterbacks come to Ernie Davis Legends Field without fear of poor field conditions or resistance from the SU defensive backfield. Akron is on its third quarterback this season, freshman Patrick Nicely, and the SU starting signal caller was benched last time out, making the competition open, and free.
    Game of the Week - #13 Penn State at Michigan.  There was a mouthy Notre Dame fan at Cosmo’s talking about how he “finds the Big Ten so boring.”  This isn’t your father’s rumblin’, bumblin’, and stumblin’ conference anymore.  Spreading the offense, running with the QB, scoring in two minutes and gadgetry has made its way north.  Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez only needs two more recruiting classes to re-create his success at West Virginina, but today he has no answer for Daryll Clark and the Nittany Lions.  Penn State 37, Michigan 17.
    Heisman Watch – Colt McCoy takes a lick and keeps on ticking.  Facing the No. 3 defense in the nation, ol’ Colt 45s took Oklahoma’s best shot and came out a winner. Did you think the match-up was unfair with OU’s Sam Bradford getting knocked out early in the game? The well is not dry in Norman: backup Landry Jones knocked two Heisman trophy winners (Bradford, Jason White) and a runner-up (Josh Heupel) from the Sooner record books with a six-touchdown effort in just his second career start.

THEY SAID IT:  “I’m calling the Phillies/Yankees in the World Series.  Another parade on Broad Street,” Scoop Jardine, SU point guard and Philadelphia native.

New York state of mind

The announcement of a Syracuse lacrosse game at the New Meadowlands Complex in East Rutherford, N.J. furthered the attempt of the University to become N.Y.'s team.

It is time Syracuse opened a satellite campus in metro New York.

The SU Department of Athletic Communications announced the Orange men’s lacrosse, the two-time defending national champions, have the distinct honor of christening the New Meadowlands Complex this spring. 

The SU laxers face Princeton at 6:30 p.m. on April 10, 2010 as part of the Big City Classic tripleheader event.  Delware and Hofstra play the first game at 1 p.m., followed by Virginia versus North Carolina (4 p.m.).

The slow decline of St. Johns and Seton Hall as New York athletic powers (mainly for basketball) gives ‘Cuse the opening to take the over the Big Apple, and the Empire State for that matter with SU Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross taking full advantage.

The “Syracuse as New York’s Team” campaign is in full swing with several marquee match-ups taking place away from campus. The football team recently announced plans to play games against Southern Cal (2012) and Notre Dame (2014 and 2016) in the New Meadowlands Stadium, the men’s basketball team plays the big-name games of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (California, and either UNC or Ohio State) in early November at Madison Square Garden while signage graces much of the NYC subways and upstate New York highways.

“At Syracuse, we believe that we should represent the entire state of New York, including New York City,” Gross said in 2006 before announcing the initiative on "The Stephen A. Smith" radio show on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York City.

Consider mission accomplished.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/electrospray/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Video: Transfer of power

The Syracuse men’s basketball team joined the recent transfer trend on campus, finally unveiling talented forward Wes Johnson at Media Day on Friday.

Wes Johnson is the big-name transfer Syracuse can’t stop talking about.

On the hill, you can transfer credits, you can transfer funds, you can transfer here to play football, and you can even get a bus transfer.  So how does the newest transfer feel?

“Right now I feel like a rookie, so excited,” said Johnson as he posed for pictures and met with members of the media inside the sparkling-new Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

A two-year starter at Iowa State in the Big 12 Conference, Johnson spent last year just practicing with the Orange (NCAA eligibility rules state scholarship transfer students must sit out one year).

“[Johnson’s] a six-foot-eight guy that can run the court, shoot the basketball and rebound - all good qualities,” said Orange head coach Jim Boeheim.  “He’s got a good feel for the game.”  

Will the pressure affect Johnson?  “I’m really not gonna try to be Superman out there, I just wanna be Wes.”

Many say Johnson was the best player on the team last year—a group that included NBA first-round draft-pick Jonny Flynn.  

Johnson is long and bouncy, both elements that create matchup problems for the rest of the Big East Conference.  If Boeheim puts him at the “3,” or small forward, Johnson can get the ball in the post to exploit the height disadvantage.  If Coach Boeheim rolls Johnson into the power forward slot, or “4,” the lanky sophomore will use his speed to pressure the sluggish defenders.

Sounds similar to a certain former SU player who just got a building named after him, doesn’t it?

Video by Pete Stamm. Photos by Andrew Burton


Morton record a bit wobbly

Fluctuation in the NCAA volleyball scoring system keeps blocking records from standing on firm ground.

Records can be deceiving.  Such is the case with SU middle hitter Sarah Morton.

According to SU Athletic Communications Office, Morton became SU’s all-time leader in total blocks for a career at Connecticut on Sunday afternoon, passing Jessica Paarlberg ‘ 91.  Morton now has 590 total blocks and also holds three school marks (solo blocks, blocks per set and total blocks).

Halftime Snack wants to make one thing clear:  Morton is the best blocker we’ve seen in person.  Her accomplishments should not be diminished. If the reader has doubts, go to Manley Field House on Friday at 7 pm or Sunday at 2 p.m. to see for yourself.

That being said, Morton’s recent ascension to the top of the SU blocking records list should include an asterisk.

According to the Official NCAA Women’s Volleyball Records Book:  “Information on blocking has not been included in the following records due to the fact thee appears to be a significant variance in the methods by which blocking statistics were kept during the 1980s.”

This bound record book, published by the NCAA on an annual basis, accounts for the entire collection of statistical records and results, even making a separate section for recent scoring changes.  (In the last eight years, the NCAA has changed the game and set, scoring formats on three occasions: in 2001, the NCAA changed the scoring format from 15 points with a side-out (teams needed to serve, or start with the ball, in order to record a point) to a 30-point rally scoring system (teams can score on every possession).  The game has been altered slightly within the last two years, with individual “sets” being played to 25 points.

SU Athletics makes no mention of the different match formats in its 2009 digital volleyball media guide.

More games offer more statistical opportunities, just as different standards under cut the term "record."

West Virginia scrambles Orange on Legends Day

Big East rival Mountaineers control from the start, topping Syracuse, 34-13, Saturday afternoon.

The West Virginia offensive machine continued to roll, piling up 385 yards of offense to claim the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy for the eight consecutive season with a 34-13 win over hometown Syracuse in front of 40,134 fans at the Carrier Dome.

MIKE WILLIAMS: The top wide receiver in the Big East Conference (top 5 in the country) got nary a sniff until the second quarter.  Finally got a screen run for him, and a West Virginia defensive back rips six inches off Williams’ jersey.  Williams wasn’t kept silent for long, catching a 50-yard touchdown pass (20th of his career to tie Marvin Harrison for second all-time at Syracuse).  Williams ended the afternoon with four catches for 89 yards (10 receptions from tying the school record).

ROCK JOCK: West Virginia wide receiver Jock Sanders slings his way to the top of list for athletes with sports names, joining Flip Murray, Tree Rollins, Donald Driver, Hack Wilson and Spike Owen. The scatter bug lived up to his sporty name, making nine catches for 67 yards with.  Sanders reeled off a nine-yard scamper around the left end for his first rushing touchdown of the season.  

COOL RUNNINGS: The running backs were front and center on Saturday.  First, a quartet of SU backs graced the program cover.  Then, WVA halfback Noel Devine dominated pre-game talking points.  SU back Delone Carter saved a sure Mountaineer touchdown on the first interception/fumble return. Devine spun his way into end zone on the ensuing play for his first TD of the afternoon. WVA bowling ball Ryan Clark rolled in for two touchdowns on goal line situations before halftime.  SU legend Jim Brown, still large and in charge, ambles onto Carrier Dome field as part of halftime ceremony to name Ernie Davis Legends Field.      

FEMALE MOUNTAINEER:  West Virginia mascot is typically a student dressed up similar to Daniel Boone (coonskin cap, rifle, gun powder bag), making the assumption a male is preferred.  For just the second time in school history, the Mountaineer is a female (Rebecca Durst). Interesting fact: the first WVU female mascot (early 1990s) is current West Virginia Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant.  

DAVIS DAY:  SU tries way too hard to keep the number 44 in the minds of fans.  The SU offensive possession overlapping the 1st and 2nd quarters saw the Orange needing to get to the 44-yard line for a first down (the newly adorned yard marker with an orange #44 on the sideline).  When the break occurred the public address announcer made a perfect seg-way: a video montage with message from Floyd Little, another #44 football legend.  Later in the game, Jock Sanders found open field on a punt return, only to mysteriously trip over the 44-yard line.

THEY SAID IT: We must always do those things that are right.  Ernie Davis did that.” -- Martin Luther King III, during halftime ceremony.

I’m big on the little things.  Its how you present yourself, it’s how you hold your head up high, and it’s how you shake someone’s hand.  We’re not doing those little things.” -- Orange head coach Greg Marrone in post game press conference.

My wife is with me, so give her a hand.”  -- SU legendary athlete Jim Brown.

Football Friday - West Virginia

Syracuse battles longtime foe at noon in the Carrier Dome.

Headed down hill in this six-game homestand, the Orange play WVU at high noon.

I LIKE MIKE: Last week Halftime Snack touted SU senior wide receiver Mike Williams as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Pressure bears no weight on M-Dubz’ shoulders! The top defense in the Big East Conference, the South Florida Bulls, employing two defensive backs, and the hometown quarterback under-throwing and overthrowing.  Williams responds with two high-flying catches for touchdowns while nearly breaking Art Monk’s catches record (14 set in 1977). 


ERNIE OVERLOAD:  SU athletics will again honor Heisman Trophy winning halfback Ernie Davis, bestowing the turf field with his name at halftime of the West Virginia game.  Jim Brown and Floyd Little have to be wondering, what about us?  A dorm, the Hollywood movie, and now the turf where 11 lacrosse national championships have been won goes to a football player (one national championship).

1959: Ditka.  That could be the name of this section.  A 6-2, 220 tight end, Mike Ditka was Pitt’s main offense that year.  Offense?  No team can score on the Hillmen in ’59.  First in total defense and first in rushing defense, SU was untouchable, topping the Pennsylvania boys, 35-0.  Coach Ben cancels practice twice due of the cold rain.  It’s Friday and Halftime Snack recommends the umbrella.




Game – West Virginia 31, Syracuse 17: Devine is free and loose.  Orange defensive backs do not match up with running backs in the open field.

National – Florida 17, LSU 13:  No confidence in this pick.  I don’t like to see an injured player play.  Let him sit another game. 

Nation Update – Torii Hunter is the new Hideki Matsui.  Always walk him, please Tito. I wish Bobby Abreu was on the Red Sox, patient hitting is an art.

Heisman Watch – Nothing here.  Mike Williams is pulling the Orange wagon.  Hear about his jumping abliity in The Post-Standard profile by Donnie Webb. 

THEY SAID IT:  “You have a hard time seeing how big the mountain is, when you up there standing on it,” Shen Wei, choreographer of the opening ceremonies at the Bejiing Olympics.