Monday, November 30, 2009

Doug Marrone Shakes Up the Coaching Staff



Doug Marrone has completed his first season as the head coach of Syracuse University and didn't waste any time shaking up his coaching staff. Which means offensive coordinator Rob Spence, wide receivers coach Jamie Elizondo and defensive line coach Derrick Jackson - you're fired.

Letting go Jackson, a hold over from the Greg Robinson era, makes some sense in that Marrone may have needed to keep him on the staff for continuity during the coaching transition last year. For all we know, they had an agreement Jackson would stay for a year before moving on. Elizondo was coaching in Canada before coming to Syracuse and was responsible for a unit that was plagued with dropped passes and a penchant for running 5 yard routes on 3rd and 6th. In other words, his group of guys didn't exactly stand out.

In both cases, coaches shuffle position coaches on their staffs all the time and with a full season under his belt, Marrone may very well have new candidates already lined up.

The news on Spence is a little more surprising in that teams don't cut loose coordinators with as much regularity. Plus Syracuse scored 31 points in each of their last 2 games. There are rumors it was Marrone who put his own stamp on the game plans for the final two games, but as far we know, those are only rumors right now. All we can infer from the move is the head coach wanted a new direction with the offense and he wasn't going to wait around for Spence to dream up something different.

The quick action demonstrates that Marrone had been thinking about this as the season played out. The big question is who the replacements will be -- on that we will have to wait.

What is a little odd was that way it was handled - a two paragraph press release, with no quote from the coach, who is out on the road recruiting and not available to speak to the media.

The bottom line with the moves is that it's Doug Marrone's ship, if he wants different officers manning the decks, it's his perogative and I'm fine with it. I'm just hoping we'll see a 1,000 percent decrease dropped passes, bubble screens and draws and 3rd and 10. And if the special teams don't improve next year with a full compliment of players, Bob Casullo should be next to go.

Syracuse - Colgate Observations

Syracuse and Colgate played something that could loosely be described as a basketball game tonight. Not surprisingly, the Orange won handily 92-58. As we do after every game, here are some observations from the game.

Observations

Colgate sucks. They are putrid. They have a team of small, unathletic white guys. That's not a formula for success. They haven't won a game all year. I suspect it will be a while before they do.

The game was a blow out from the start, there wasn't much more to be learned from it. The Orange did play some man to man and 10 guys played at least 10 minutes, so it was good for the young guys to get some playing time -- however, the guys they play against in practice are 10 times better than anyone Colgate has, so how much good it did remains to be seen.

All in all, it was great to see Syracuse come out a destroy an inferior opponent - even if it proved to be a brutally boring game to watch, it was fun in a brutally boring way.

I'll close with this - Colgate basketball is even worse than this horrific video -- and that's saying something.

Poliquin and Paulus

Syracuse Post Standard columnist Bud Poliquin made it very clear from the beginning of the year that he really liked Greg Paulus, so after the season concluded on Saturday, it seemed natural that Bud would write a column on Greg.

Bud deemed the Paulus experiment a success, and for the most part I agree with him -- even if the column is written with a dick-ish "I told you so" angle that glosses over some killer interceptions that Greg threw at times throughout the year.

What we did see was some real improvement at the end of the year that suggests that the scouts weren't wrong when they rated him so highly coming out of high school. It would be been interesting to see what he could have done had he devoted the majority of his career to football -- but that's something we'll never know.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to stick Bud's column into wordle and see what popped out. The results are below (sorry, not tech savvy enough to get the picture bigger, click on the link for the full size word cloud).

Wordle: Bud P and Greg

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I'm Wondering


A long holiday weekend is in the books. The tight pants and loathing of going in to work tomorrow give it away. After consecutive days of grazing and watching sports, here's what I'm left wondering.

*Who's finishing second to Colt McCoy in the Heisman race? Great performance Thanksgiving night.

* Why does Charlie Weis remind me of Ursula The Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid?

* Does Gerry McNamara really drive a Kia?

* Is anyone else a little sick of hearing what a great guy Randy Edsall is?

* Again, how did Syracuse lose to Louisville?

* Which will have a higher attendance figure, the ACC Championship Game or the Syracuse Crunch game at the Fairgrounds?

* Why don't the Bills wear their throwback uni's all the time?

* Is there a player more fun to watch than Toby Gerhart?

* Remember when the only preseason hoops tournaments were the Preaseason NIT, Great Alaska Shootout and the Maui Classic? I'll be honest, I lost track of the locations of all the tourneys this week.

* How fun would it be to play Pictionary with the UPS whiteboard guy?

* Who else is not looking forward to a full week of work?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Syracuse - Columbia Observations


Photo: Syracuse.com

I just returned from Thanksgiving at the in-laws (killer spread) and Saturday morning I have to hop in a car and drive to Philadelphia for a wedding, so activity on the blog will be limited to whatever Champ can slap up from here. Before I go, here are a few observations from the Syracuse beat down of Columbia game tonight.

Actually, before we get to that, let me just tell all of you how excited I am for the drive back up from Philly on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. In addition to the raging hangover I'm guaranteed to have, I get to deal with hellish traffic on the NJ dirt-pike while the fiancee most likely sleeps one off and my sister and brother-in-law come to grips with the fact that they have to get back to care for 2 kids under two and half. Should be a blast.

Onto the game - here's what I've got:

- I didn't even know this game was being played until I saw a tweet about it from NunesMagician. Thank you Mr. Keeley.

- The first half was sloppy, the Orange had too many turnovers, but who can blame them - it was the day after Thanksgiving and they were playing a bad team.

- Speaking of which - Columbia stinks. They really suck - how's that for some in-depth analysis?

- Wes Johnson does not stink however. He's good. Like really good. Like if he wants, he can put an already good team on his back and go all the way to the Final Four good. And he won't break a sweat doing it. God I love Wes Johnson - it the most non-romantic way possible.

- Mookie Jones got some PT in the first half and in the second half he promptly drained his first four three point attempts. The dude can shoot. If he can remain patient, he's going to be a factor this year. There will be games where guys are cold, or in foul trouble and Mookie could be huge. Stay patient and stay with it dude, this team is going to need you.

- Andy Rautins may end up leading the nation in steals. Think about that. It's insane.

- UConn lost to Duke tonight. Tomorrow, let's hope our transplanted Dukie Greg Paulus can lead the football team to a win over the Huskies to close out the season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We here at T3I want to wish all of our readers a happy Thanksgiving. This is easily the best holiday of the year - so enjoy some great food, football and time with your family. And if you see a turkey falling from the sky, run like hell.

Happy Thanksgiving - WKRP Turkey Drop - kewego
http://www.sharkhost.com Happy Thanksgiving from Sharkhost.com! This is a blast from the past, WKRP in Cincinnati Famous Turkey Drop. Sharkhost does not own any copyright to this material. Web host, web design, marketing and promotion.

Syracuse - Cornell Observations


The Syracuse Orange improved to 5-0 with an 88-73 win over Cornell tonight in the Carrier Dome. After every SU game I try and post some personal observations on the game - but for this one there will be no observations, because I didn't see the game.

Why you ask? Well I have Time Warner Cable for my internet service provider and Time Warner Cable doesn't carry ESPN360.com - the only outlet where the game was broadcast. Many, many Syracuse fans were in the same boat. In a related note - Time Warner sucks balls. The company blows goats. If Time Warner was a sports broadcaster, Time Warner would be a cross between Lou Holtz and Billy Packer.

Time Warner can work "Value Shop NBC" (no link, it doesn't deserve one) into the main tier of channels they carry, but they can't come to some sort of reasonable agreement to carry ESPN 360 on their cable service, or come to an agreement with the NFL network to show the nation's most popular sport to its paying customers.

But on the bright side, my cable and internet bill is a reasonable $150 a month -- which is nice to think about when you're listening to the radio. And while we're here - Time Warner stop trying to sell me home phone service. I haven't had a land line since 2003. You might as well be trying to sell me a typewriter or a Commodore 64. Land lines are obsolete. A-holes.

I did listen to the game on the radio, and monitored it via Twitter, but that's not good enough to offer an opinion on the game. In the place of regular observations, I present you with some observations of my night that occurred while listening to the game.

Observations

* In 2009, it feels weird to be in your home listening to the radio as your main form of entertainment. I felt a little like Ralphie listening to the Little Orphan Annie radio program.

* That being said, Matt Park does a really nice job with the radio play by play. To quote Jon Gruden, Matt does an OUTSTANDING JOB calling the action.

* The best part of the broadcast was when Matt mocked the awful "a deuce for the cuse" call of Dome PA announcer Mike Veley. If there is something more mock-worthy, I don't know what it is.

* For dinner, the fiancee whipped up chicken cutlets stuffed with blue cheese and hot sauce and served it with side of pasta, tossed with arugula, olive oil, and some lightly toasted walnuts. I eat well around here.

* In a related note, I need to lose some weight.

* It took about six seconds for the cuse twitterati to pick up on Mookie Jones bolting from the bench. Twitter is really fantastic. It almost makes me sad to know that 18 months from now we will have all moved on to something else. Almost.

* Did I mention I'm not a fan of Time Warner?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone - make sure you eat too much, if you don't, you're abdicating your responsibility to be an ugly American, and that simply won't do.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ebay Item of the Week: Gobble, gobble


To our readers (both of you), T3I wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving. We're celebrating Turkey Day with this week's Ebay Item of the Week. Serve up that turkey on your very own Syracuse turkey platter.
Eat well and get the stretchy pants out.


Looking Back and Moving Forward

Do you want to relive the Cal and North Carolina basketball wins and the upset of Rutgers one more time, but only have a little over a minute to do it? Well we've got the video for you - the creator notes on Youtube it isn't finished, but it looks pretty good so far.



With that in the review mirror, it's time to move forward. Tonight, the Orange face a senior-laden Cornell team tonight. Now that you're done reading about the old guys - here's a feature on the new guys on the Big Red team.


Scoop Jardine is Better That Jonny Flynn (sort of)

2K Sports Classic


Now that I went all Skip Bayless on you and said something outrageous to get your attention, stick with me for a minute and read this post before you start calling me a moron.

The 9/10th ranked Syracuse Orange are off to a better start than any one could have expected, winning four games by an average of 27.5 points per game. One of the main reasons why is the stellar play Jim Boeheim is getting from the point guard position.

Coming into the season, the biggest question facing the Orange was how would the team replace the production and leadership of Jonny Flynn? The answer has been nearly equal parts Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine.

Triche, an untested freshman and Jardine, a player who sat out last year and played mostly off the ball during his freshman campaign in 2007-08, came into the season with big questions marks. After four games, three of which were against teams that made the NCAA tournament last year, they are already providing big answers.

What is really amazing is that statistically, Jardine and Triche have actually been more productive than Flynn was last year. Now four games isn't anywhere near enough games to to be relevant when comparing stats, but the numbers are still fun to look at.

Last year Jonny averaged 37.3 minutes, 17.4 points, 6.7 assists and a 3.4 turnovers per game. Adjusted for 40 minutes of play, Jonny's numbers were:

18.7 ppg, 7.2 apg, 3.6 tpg

While Triche starts, Scoop is playing slightly more, averaging 22.8 minutes per game. His averages are 11.5 ppg, 5.6 apg, and 1.8 tpg. Adjusted for 40 minutes, those numbers look like this:

20.2 ppg, 10.2 apg, 3.2 tpg

Triche is playing exactly 20 minutes per game and averaging 10 ppg, 3.3 apg and 3.3 tpg. If you factor in Triche and Jardine's stats per 40 minutes, and half them (figuring each plays 20 mpg at the point), the two headed point guard's stats are:

20.1 ppg, 8.4 ppg, 4.9 tpg

So, does this mean Jardine and Triche are better than Flynn? Of course not. Flynn will go down as one of the best ever at SU. But, combined with a smothering defense, it helps explain why the Orange have had such great early season success. So far the two guys running the point have been far more effective so far than anyone could have expected -- and they've been doing it against top-flight competition.

If they keep it up, it is going to be a very successful season for the Orange. And that makes this idiot extremely happy.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Mike Tirico, Dashing man of the early '90s


I love the SU Time Capsule games that Time Warner Cable 26 shows on Monday nights. Tonight I sat down to watch Syracuse battle Boston College circa 1990. Not only do they take us back to a time when Syracuse football was dominant, TW26 also reacquaints us with personalities like current ESPN broadcaster and former SUper Sports sideline reporter Mike Tirico.


Greg Robinson Weekly


"...Michigan's defense is coached by Greg Robinson, a guy who spends approximately 80 percent of his time staring into the distance like a kid watching cartoons, and the 20 percent picking his nose. Needles to say, I'm not a big Greg Robinson fan." ~Aaron Torres, Bleacher Report


"There's no disputing the horror of Michigan's defense." ~Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crushed-gers


What a fun and improbable weekend for Syracuse fans. Things got started on Thursday evening with the Orange basketball team routing the Cal Bears. While Doug Gottlieb was not impressed, SU followed that up by blowing out the North Carolina Tar Heels the next day. That win resulted in Doug changing his tune.

However, the cherry on the Orange sundae was a dominant, thorough ass kicking of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights yesterday in the Dome. For Syracuse seniors, it was a great way to conclude a home career. For Doug Marrone, it was his first Big East win, and first win over recruiting rival Greg Schiano. And for long-suffering Syracuse fans, it was one hell of a fun afternoon in the Dome.

The Orange defense flew around the field and hit Rutgers QB Tom Savage so many times that in his post-game media availability he looked like he was ready to join Mike Tyson and fade into "bolivian." The offense was multiple, unpredictable and the most effective it's been since the Northwestern game, racking up over 400 yards and 31 points. All that was good enough to overcome a special teams unit that played like they had money on Rutgers.

Coming into the game, everyone, including me, expected Rutgers to win. Rutgers bloggers and sportswriters predicted a large win, an orange crushing, a 31-17 win, and they celebrated big hits of years gone by. By 7:00 pm Saturday night, the hopes and dreams of the Knights had been crushed.

So what went wrong? Tom Lucci and Brendan Prunty of the Newark Star Ledger point the finger squarely at Greg Schiano, and I agree. Doug Marrone had his team prepared and Schiano was clueless on the sidelines the whole afternoon. Take it away fellas:


A look at No. 25 Rutgers 31-13 loss to last place Syracuse





With all that said, here are some observations from the game:

* First and foremost, being in the Dome was fun yesterday. When we look back on this season, while it was frustrating at times, this game and the Northwestern game gave us a couple of exciting wins at home. It's progress, and progress is fun. There is hope for this program.

* The announced crowd was nearly 37,000 - like always, that number was inflated, but the fans that were there were loud and into the game. Well everyone but the students, who once again didn't show.

* I have bitched for the last few weeks about how conservative the offense has become. Well, yesterday they weren't conservative at all. The team added some plays they haven't shown all year, and it was a success. Kudos to Doug Marrone and Rob Spence for drawing up that gameplan - and kudos to the players for executing it.

* While we are talking about me being wrong, I also bitched about the rotating quarterback situation and how it wasn't working. Well it worked like a charm yesterday - Greg Paulus was smart and efficient, Ryan Nassib was dangerous running the option and completed a good ball down the middle of the field that set up the Paulus to Carl Cutler TD pass.

* As we touched on earlier, Marrone and his crew vastly out coached Schiano and the his Rutgers staff. They couldn't adjust their protection schemes to stop the SU blitz and defensively they were confused and not prepared for new formations and quick snaps implemented by the Orange.

* In regards to the on-side kick attempt in the first half, I'm probably in the minority here, but I didn't mind it. If you are going to be an aggressive team, you have to take risks. I don't think SU has taken enough risks this year - so I'm not going to kill them for taking a shot there. Good for them.

* The offensive line had its best day in 5 years. They opened running lanes and kept Paulus and Nassib clean all day.

* I love defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. When Greg Robinson arrived we were promised an aggressive defense. It didn't happen. Shafer arrived with little fanfare, but boy oh boy has he ever delivered. There have been some growing pains, but his aggressive blitzing schemes should be giving Big East coaches nightmares for as long as he's here. The turn around on defense has been nothing short of remarkable. How remarkable? Check out the difference in stats between Shafer and Robinson.

* Doug Hogue moving to linebacker has worked out pretty well huh? 3.5 sacks yesterday and he's getting better. If he keeps up this level of improvement, Doug will be playing on Sundays in the future.

* I'm not going to harp on this, because the win yesterday was so good, but the special teams have been awful all year. Yesterday they were worse than awful. I don't want to hear any excuses, the offense and defense have been decimated with injures and they have produced. I'm less than impressed with Bob Casullo right now. I will give him credit for one thing however, he actually beat me to a restaurant in Syracuse after the Akron game, so Bob moves quick.

* It was great to see Averin Collier bust the long TD run in the 4th quarter. I'd love to see this guy on the field more. With 4 talented RBs returning, it will be tough to get all of them touches, but I hope Marrone and Spence can find a way to do it. That is the one position on the team that is loaded with talent.

* What a great win. After a rough middle of the season, I think it reaffirms what we have believed all year - Doug Marrone is the right man to turn around this program.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heels Stomped


For the second day in a row, the Syracuse Orange roll to a win in the Garden. Here's the AP story - more later. What a great win for the Orange.

Spin to Win

Courtesy of the Big East web site - enjoy the sick spin move Kris Joseph dropped on Cal last night.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Syracuse - Cal Observations


The good news for Syracuse basketball fans, if the NCAA tournament started next week, this Orange team would be very, very dangerous. The bad news, next week is Thanksgiving. This is the only time on the blog I will ever use the words "Thanksgiving" and "bad" in the same sentence. That's a promise.

After a football season filled with injuries, defections, and disappointment, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch the first three games of the Syracuse basketball season. In tonight's 95-73 route of the Cal Bears, the Orange show cased qualities that could make them a dangerous team all year long. Namely, they displayed an active, trapping defense, excellent passing and versatility and balance on the offensive end of the floor. Oh yeah, and a guy named Scoop Jardine reminded us of why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school. He was fantastic tonight.

Here are a few quick observations:

One of my main beefs with Arinze Onuaku's game was that he didn't make quick decisions in the post. Tonight, he made quick decisions - and his team mates found him. He was efficient as hell.

Unlike earlier games this year, SU took care of the basketball, finishing the night with 11 turnovers -- while forcing 15.

Likewise, the team had 21 assists, paced by Scoop Jardine's 6. What people might not notice, Rick Jackson had 4 assists as well. Big Rick has always been a good passer in the high post, he showed that again tonight. When you've got a big man that can pass the ball out of the high post, EVERYONE gets better shots.

Obviously the story of the night was Scoop Jardine who came off the bench to score 22 points. He also added 6 assists and 4 steals and was very active on defense.

Likewise, Brandon Triche did some nice things when he was on the floor. I especially liked the way he used his strength to get to rim, and did so under control. It will be interesting to see how Triche and Jardine handle Carolina's pressure Friday night.

Speaking of the point guards. Andy Katz has a great piece on them here.

I loved how SU extended the zone to beyond the 3 point line to find Cal shooters. They can do this for a few reasons - they are big enough and long enough to cover large areas of the court, they are in good shape and can cover ground quickly, and the team is busting its collective ass on the defensive end.

Andy Rautins makes a huge difference at the top of the zone versus when Devendorf was there last year. Devo was as interested in defense as Mark Mangino is in salad.

It was only the third game of the year, but after a trying few weeks, it sure was fun. Looking forward to the match up with North Carolina Friday night. It will be a blast.

You Cannot Be Serious

Another day, another starting SU football player lost for the year. Today SU athletics announced starting MLB Derrell Smith, who had emerged as the top play maker on defense (after Arthur Jones was lost for the season) is done for the year.

For those of you counting at home, SU has 12 guys left of the roster and has lost approximately 217 players, 5 managers, 3 ball boys and a bus driver due to injury this year. I'm speechless at the news. The only thought that comes to mind has already been spoken so eloquently before -- take it away John McEnroe:

My Response To Beat Visitor

Rutgers fans are a little full of themselves these days. After getting the crap kicked out of them by SU for years (Syracuse leads the overall series 28-10), they are reveling in their relative, recent success on the football field. After spending the better part of two decades on the losing end of 70-14 scores, I can understand why they are happy. For the past 4 years they've been the better team (FU Greg Robinson) and if I was an RU fan, I'd be happy too.

So, while their turn around has been a nice story (even if it hasn't translated into any conference championships or major bowl berths) we here at T3I cannot let posts like this go unanwered. While Beat Visitor may revel in posting a helmet to helmet hit - it gives me an excuse to post this dunk again.

Getting to Know the California Golden Bears

The Syracuse Orangemen and the California Golden Bears tip it off at 7 pm tonight in MSG in the 2K Sports Coaches versus Cancer Classic. Since you probably don't know much about Cal (unless your name is Jameson Fleming) let's get to know tonight's opponent a little better.

A Golden Bear is a legend, based on some tall tales that came out of Kansas in the mid 1800s. It doesn't really seem to fit with California, then again Syracuse and Oranges aren't exactly a natural combination.

They are coached by Mike Montgomery, who was successful at Stanford, went to the Golden State Warriors and failed, and is now having success at Cal. Based on his career, you can say he's fairly comfortable in the Bay area.

California can really shoot from distance, which could pose a problem for SU.

Many Cal players have never been to NY. Here's hoping they spent a lot of time in Flashdancers last night, because I've uhhhhhh, never been there.

The game will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Sean from NunesMagician talks about the game with Cal Bears bloggers at the SBN roundtable.

And for our California readers, all none of you - tickets to Cal basketball games start at $10.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ebay Item of the Week: A Pearl of a Bargain


The Pearl holds a special place in my heart. Growing up as a Cuse fan in the '80s, he really put the Syracuse program on the national map of college hoops. His short-lived NBA career is immortalized with this week's EBay Item of the Week.

Let's take you back to the short-shorts era:

Bravo Charlie Coles, Bravo

There are very few things we love more than sports related press conference melt downs. Jim Mora had us at playoffs. Allen Iverson slayed us talking about practice. Kevin Borseth went from unknown women's coach to world class ranter based on one press conference.

I once won a round of Hugging Harold Reynold's Iron Ref competition using press conference rants as the basis of my entry. So, a big tip of the hat is order to the Axeman for posting the link to Miami of Ohio coach Charlie Coles' post-game press conference after losing to Kentucky on a John Wall shot at the end of regulation. It's an instant classic. We all need more Charlie Coles in our lives.

Rutgers Fans REALLY Love Tom Savage

Memo to Syracuse fans - no matter how good you think Ryan Nassib or Charley Loeb mayturn out to be, please do not do make a video slide show like the one below, because it's pretty gay - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gear Grinding: Stubborn Coaches Edition


It's been a rough few weeks of football in both the college and professional ranks for this idiot and that means one thing -- it's time to get some stuff off my chest. In the words of Peter Griffin, here are a few things that are really grinding my gears.

Before I tear into SU Coach Doug Marrone, let me say I think he's done a good job on the whole this year. Rebuilding the Syracuse program is a huge task and I still believe he can get the job done. That doesn't mean I have to blindly agree with every decision he makes, like....

Punting to Trent Guy. It's been three days since Syracuse crapped the bed in the final minute moments of the Louisville game and this decision still makes no sense. Marrone said they chose to kick to Guy because its up the players to stay in their lanes and make plays. Well guess what, if I'm guarding Shaq it's my responsibility to stop him, that doesn't mean I can. To that point, Guy had been Louisville's only weapon and giving him another chance to make a play did not seem advisable to anyone. Hell, Steve Kragthorpe - who isn't exactly Urban Meyer -- was shocked when it happened.

While it's up to players to execute the game game plan and meet their responsibilities, it's up to coaches to adjust the game plans based on what they are seeing on the field. Marrone did not do that. Besides, you cannot tell me that Rob Long is incapable of successfully kicking the ball out of bounds. After all the punting he's had to do since he set foot on campus, he's had more experience punting a football than any human on the planet. He's put his foot on more balls than a dominatrix. I have faith he could have booted it out of bounds. That was a dumb, costly decision.

While we're here, I understand the offense is riddled with injuries, lacks play makers and has no depth, but if I see one more third down play that calls for the ball to go 2 yards when 5 are needed, I'm going to punch someone. The complete lack of aggressiveness is shameful.

I understand game plans that call for a heavy dose of running (the rbs are the team's strength) and while it drives me nuts to see constant punts on 4th and 1, at least that makes sense (see Belichick, Bill). But, running bubble screens, draws and 2 yard swing passes on 3rd down DO NOT. It's happened way too many times this year. Besides, the whole world knows this team isn't going vertical, these play calls couldn't fool Rich Kotite. Take the damn panties off and try and beat someone.

Finally, the decision to stick with Greg Paulus doesn't really wash either. If Paulus gives the team the best chance to win, as Marrone has said, then why is Nassib playing at all? The last time I checked this quarterback platoon wasn't lighting up the win column. The implication that Ryan Nassib can't handle the entire playbook is a crock. He was the starter before Paulus arrived - did he suddenly get dumber? Did a full season of practice make him forget plays? Does Paulus just look prettier throwing INTs? It's time to play Nassib and see what he can do, because the team isn't winning with Greg.

Switching to Andy Reid (his record over the last five years is 40-36-1) in the San Diego game yesterday the Eagles had first and goal at the one. Brian Westbrook was healthy at this point, as was McNabb. What's Reid do? He gives the ball to Leonard Weaver, calls for a pass that went incomplete to the tight end, and follows up by giving the immortal Eldra Buckley a carry that got stuffed. Think about that - you need one yard and decide Weaver, an incomplete pass, and Elda Buckley are your best options. That is so ludicrous it's stunning.

Also grinding my gears are the Cleveland Browns. I feel for their fans, but the ineptness of this team is horrible for the league. The team is so blazingly incompetent that Monday Night Football was rendered impossible to watch tonight. That is a crime against society, and for that crime I sentence Eric Mangini to 10 years of being locked in a cell with Jon Gruden listening to Chuckie talk non-stop.

And that's what really grinds my gears. I feel better. For now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

T3I Remembers: V-G Day, One Year Later




November 16, 2008. Orange Nation celebrated V-G Day as Greg Robinson was shown the door. The Little Enginge that couldn't, couldn't any more.


T3I Classic takes you back:










Greg Robinson Weekly


"Greg Robinson working on being fired for the second time in two years." ~ Pat Forde, ESPN


"Greg Robinson...the man who sent Syracuse back to the leather helmet era." ~ The Only Colors


"It will be interesting to see what happens with first year coordinator Greg Robinson, who hasn't had the desired effect on this unit." ~Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Syracuse Football is Not Fun


I told myself I'd wait 24 hours before writing about the awful 10-9 loss Syracuse suffered at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals today. However, it rained all day here in Albany and I'm sitting around the house and can't quite shake the blues of yet another loss. Writing this post might be cathartic. Or it may not.

I usually post some observations after every game, but for this one, I'm gonna take a pass. There's nothing new to observe anyway - the offense is conservative and toothless, the special teams are increasingly inept, the O-line isn't very good, the receivers without Mike Williams are bad, Paulus is Paulus, Delone Carter runs hard, and the defense is better, but still struggles against the pass. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Syracuse is now 3-7 and 0-5 in the Big East. Barring some crazy turn of events (like the entire Rutgers and UConn teams coming down with the swine flu) this team will finish the year 3-9 and winless in the Big East.

As a fan, it can't get much worse than that. We've witnessed five years of complete and utter futility. We've seen a grand total of three Big East wins in those five years. We've been treated to Saturday after Saturday of losses that have come in all shapes and sizes. It simply isn't fun.

In fact, it's been brutal. Syracuse is averaging 2.6 wins per year over the last five. The worst part about all of it is that as fans, there's nothing we can do about it.

This year started with high hopes and peaked with a thrilling win over Northwestern. Unfortunately that happened in game three. Since then, the season quickly morphed into another disaster. The wins over Maine and Akron were sloppy and uninspiring. The losses to WVA, South Florida, Cincinnati and Pitt were ugly, turnover marred affairs. And the loss today, in addition to being heartbreaking and infuriating, was boring.

Sports are supposed to be fun. Being a fan is supposed to be fun. We try and have fun on this site -- but it's hard when you care so much about something that is continually the opposite of fun. Being a Syracuse football fan right now is as enjoyable as being a prisoner serving life in jail. We don't have a lot of hope.

Make no mistake about it, Syracuse University does not owe its fans a thing. By the same token, the fans don't owe the University anything either. While Syracuse is a fickle sports town, the fans of this program have been fed a steady diet of crap for five years.

I expect the Dome will be pretty empty next week against Rutgers and I really can't blame people for not going. You can only advertise wine and deliver piss for so long. Syracuse fans need some fun and we have no idea when the football program will provide it again - but it's been too long.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Syracuse - Louisville Prediction


Watching Howard Schnellenberger smoke a pipe may be more interesting than this game

The battle to avoid the bottom of the Big East kicks off at high noon tomorrow in Fast Food Pizza stadium, with the Syracuse Orange taking on the Louisville Cardinals. Both teams are winless in the Big East and the game represents each team's best chance to get at least on conference win this year (you can forget about beating Rutgers after the ass-beating they administered to USF last night).

The Syracuse Orange came into the season lacking depth, having seen nearly 20 players leave the program after not fitting in with Doug Marrone's vision for what Syracuse football will become. To make matters worse, injuries and more defections have decimated what's left of the SU roster. Right now the Greendale Community College football team has more healthy players than SU.

Louisville came into the season with low expectations, mainly because the fan base had lost faith with coach Steve Kragthorpe and to date, Krags has met those low expectations. Likewise, the Cardinals have been bitten by the injury bug and are struggling with the same record as the Orange.

Basically, both teams stink right now. Neither team moves the ball very effectively and while the Orange has been decent at stopping the run, teams can throw at will on them. Neither team can score -- in Big East play, SU averages 12.5 ppg, whereas Louisville averages a little over 13.

This game is not going to be pretty, and outside of small pockets in Kentucky and Central New York, it isn't going to be watched. For Steve Kragthorpe there are two positives, his wily silver-haired nemesis Greg Robinson is gone and his team is at home. That's enough for Steve to get his first - and most likely last - win versus the Orange.

Final Score

Louisville 6
Syracuse 3

The Captain's Fantasy - Week 10


Due to the Yankees winning the World Series, I felt compelled to take a break from the fantasy column to bask in their glory. I have a work with 3 Phillies fans in my office, I said nothing to them during the series, but after the series, let's just say they all received "suspicious" voice mails from Hideki Matsui. Something about how Ryan Howard should give up baseball and do something that God intended someone with a nose like that to do..... like dig for truffles in France. (With a poor Japanese accent of course). GOOD TIMES!

So this week instead of the sit/start format, we're gonna change it up a bit. Playoffs are right around the corner, now is the time to start planning waiver wire/trade pickups that will help you get through the playoffs.

Every year someone goes rolling into the playoffs with an ungodly record only to get booted in the next to last round. THIS IS DUE TO POOR PLANNING FOLKS. Winning teams start resting studs to save them for the playoff push. Now is the time to start thinking the same.

What I look for is strength of schedule for upcoming match ups. Look for running backs that have a steady dose of KC/OAK/SD/CLE/DET/TB/NE (yup new England is in there). These teams give up the most yards per carry in the league. Researching who is playing who week to week gets important here.

Look for receivers that get DET/TEN/ARI/KC/STL/CIN/JAX/MIA/ATL On average these teams give up in excess of 240 yard passing per game. If you have decent (and I'm not even talking Peyton, Drew, Tom) QB as a starter, they are going to get their yards.

As far as TEs go, be happy with a guy who gets you, 5-8 pts per game. TEs that consistently do that are already taken and won't be found on waivers. Just get someone who doesn't throw the bagel at you during playoff weeks.

That's it, no picks this week, just strategy. Good luck in your leagues this week.

The Captain

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Steve Kragthorpe - Musical Inspiration

Syracuse football fans know a little something about living with a struggling football program. We understand how a poor team can drive down attendance. We know what it's like to want the head coach of your program fired.

We are still dealing with ramifications of the disastrous Greg Robinson era and the man has been gone for almost a year. We will be dealing with these issues for the next few years. Hell, half the blogs on the Orange Colored Links blogroll were launched to vent about the man.

Louisville is in the same boat. To say Steve Kragthorpe has not met expectations is an understatement. The guy lost to Robinson not once, but twice. He's the only coach in the country that can say that. At this pace, if he plays his cards right, Rich Rodriguez may hire him at Michigan next year.

Predictably, and justifiably, there has been a backlash from the fans, such as:

- The fire (insert coach's name) website in the form of Fire Kragthorpe Now.

- The online petition - Fire Louisville Coach Steve Kragthorpe.

- And of course ranting in online message boards.

However, whereas last year Sean decided to see if Greg Robinson wanted some Arbys, Louisville fans have taken to song to express their displeasure with their current coach. While they aren't original tunes like John Radcliff pens, they are pretty funny.

The first one was done last year:



And this year's updated version:



Ahh, terrible football coaches. They make game day an absolutely miserable experience, but they do inspire creativity during the week, so they've got that going for them, which is nice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SU Beats Bob Morris Silly

Coming into the Syracuse - RMU game, I shared some of the concerns of our friends over at Cuse Country. On paper, this looked like a game that could give the Orange some trouble. And give Robert Morris credit, they hung around most of the first half before the Orange asserted their dominance and any concerns dissipated. Syracuse got hot from behind the three point line and simply had too many athletes for the Colonials. SU won in a rout.

Here are a few quick observations.

* After every football game we write about how Delone Carter runs hard. After every hoop game, we'll be writing about an insane dunk from Wesley Johnson. It's a given. I can't remember a guy that's played at SU that elevates as quickly as Wes. The dude has jet packs in his sneakers.

* Jim Boeheim looks pretty damn good for a guy who just turned 65 - no homo.

* It was great to see SU make a concerted effort to get the ball down low, where they had a decided advantage. They did it through a combination of crisp ball movement and dribble penetration. These are good signs.

* I really like the attitude of this bunch. You don't see a lot of preening, grandstanding or woofing. So far, they've displayed a lunch pail attitude and good intensity. I think the Le Moyne embarrassment helped them get focused.

* SU got 16 assists out of the point guard position. Not. too. shabby. Of course it helps when your team mates aren't missing, but 16 assists is 16 assists.

* Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph were the only two bench guys to play in the first half. It's clear that when the opponents get tougher, that is Boeheim's 7 man rotation. Unless there's foul trouble, or Mookie Jones or James Southerland emerges as the season progresses, get used to seeing these guys on the floor.

* We'd like to welcome Andy Rautin's jump shot back to the dome. It was a welcome sight and will certainly be needed this year.

Take it away coach.

Syracuse vs. Robert Morris basketball: Coach Jim Boeheim









Ebay Item of the Week: Long Live T-Rob

Calling all fans of Terrence Roberts. For a starting bid of $50, you could walk away with your very own game worn T-Rob jersey.

Still not convinced? How about a TRob tribute video to get you fired up?

Pete Rose is Still Swinging

Today Gunaxin posted some fabulous Embarrassing Old-School Celebrity Video Game Ads. Among them, Pete Rose and Don Knotts (you read that correctly) are pimping Atari in 1978. The ad is awesome beyond words. Really, see for yourself.



And while Pete was swinging at virtual pitches back then - he's still making moves with the ladies 30 years later. Via Sports By Brooks, we learn that Pete's lady friend is going to pose for Playboy. Whether its video games or women, he certainly earned the nickname Charlie Hustle.

Will Andy Rautins Play Tonight?

Jim Boeheim goes for win 801 verus the Robert Morris Colonials tonight, that much is certain. What is less certain is whether starting shooting guard Andy Rautins will play.

We won't know until tonight, but what I do know is that someone took the time to make a tribute video to Andy, which means we're legally obligated to bring it to you.



To complete your Rautins fix, here he is talking Citrus TV, who sent two guys half his size, to talk to him about the upcoming season.

Tommy West is Confused on How the Media Works

Memphis fired football coach Tommy West. He will continue to coach the rest of the season. In the video below Tommy discusses what is needed for Memphis football program to succeed. It's an impassioned speech, and does have some merit. However Tommy goes off the rails a little at end, declaring that the local paper should pick up phone and ask the coach how they can help the program.

Uhhhh Coach, we shouldn't have to tell you this, but it doesn't really work that way. If it did, Greg Robinson's cell phone bill would have been astronomical - that thing would have been ringing off the hook.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deck Chairs Shuffled on the SU Football Titanic

I don't even want to write about this because frankly it's depressing as hell, but SU senior defensive tackle Arthur Jones is lost for the season with a knee injury. Joining him on the sideline will be be starting tackle Jonathan Meldrum.

The rash of injuries is the latest setback to a season that started with promise and has been spiraling downward in recent weeks. In the Pitt game alone, the Orange lost 4 starters for the rest of the year. That is an amazing run of bad luck.

Could the injuries be the result of a depleted roster causing an increased work load in practice and games for the players? Possibly, but it could also be good old fashioned bad luck. We'll never really know.

What we do know is that in the last week the team has lost its best offensive player in Mike Williams, its best defensive player in Arthur Jones, a starting tight end in Cody Catalina (who was starting because the previous starter Nick Provo was lost to an injury), starting safety Max Suter, starting tackle John Meldrum and starting guard Andrew Tiller. Tiller has been reinstated, but his status for the upcoming game is uncertain as of this writing.

We know the team will move on and I'm fully confident the team will play hard, but holy hell, the 1972 Miami Dolphins couldn't withstand this many injuries. Winning another game this year with a roster this depleted will be a minor miracle.

According to SU Athletics, the deck will be shuffled as the team prepares for Louisville. Then again, if you don't have any cards, it makes it pretty tough to shuffle.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Coach Boeheim Gets Win 800


Tonight Jim Boeheim won his 800th career game and it couldn't have been more anticlimactic. After a loss to Le Moyne, that's a good thing.

We here at T3I salute Coach Boeheim on an truly amazing accomplishment.

As far as the game goes, here are a few quick observations:

* Syracuse played 40 minutes of zone tonight, and it was effective, holding Albany to 45 points. After a few years of man to man versus zone debates, this much is clear - this particular group that JB has assembled is a zone team. I'm fine with it. It's one less thing to debate throughout the year.

* The defensive intensity was turned up about 15 notches over the Le Moyne game. Thank God.

* The game was extremely sloppy - we're talking 40 year old, day-shift stripper sloppy. The two teams combined for 53 turnovers. That is not a typo. 53 turnovers.

* The rotation today had Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph as the first two guys off the bench. After that, Mookie and James Southerland will fight for whatever minutes are left. Based on how they played tonight, I'd favor Southerland, but it will be an interesting situation to watch.

* I'll go all SAT on you for a minute - Wes Johnson is to jumping, what Jon Gruden is to excessive talking. Yamma hamma this kid is athletic.

* SU really struggled shooting the ball from distance tonight, making 2-17 three pointers. Likewise, they shot under 50% from the free throw line. This will bite them a few times this year.

* SU had 5 guys in double figures and almost had a 6th, as Brandon Triche finished with 8 points.

* If you're interested, you can get the t-shirt pictured above here.

* After the awful loss to Le Moyne, we can all breath a little easier tonight. This team has a lot of work ahead, but they have the potential to do some damage this year.

Everyone's Invited to Celebrate Win 800

Say what you want about people in Syracuse, but Larry Elin would be proud of this polite gesture - according to Albany coach Will Brown's twitter feed he's been invited to celebrate Jim Boeheim's 800th win tonight. Score one for decorum.


Syracuse v. Albany - The Quest for 800

I grew up 20 minutes from the Carrier Dome. I went to my first SU game when I was 7 years old. I've been a lifelong fan of the Orange. However, when it came time to choose a college, I ended up at the University at Albany.

The experience I had at Albany and the proximity to the State's capital helped me forge what do date, has been a successful career. After college I moved a few times but ultimately ended up settling in the Capital District, where I work and own a home. So the game tonight is a little strange for me.

I'll be rooting for the Orange for the same reason I love the Philadelphia Eagles - I developed an irrational love for the team at an early, early age and it's far too late to shake it. So, if the Great Danes pull an upset tonight, I'll be happy for my alma mater, and terrified for what that means for the 2009-10 SU hoop team.

Let's get to know the Great Danes a little better:

* The Danes named their starters for the game. Of the starting 5, Tim Ambrose is the best of the bunch. He's got great athleticism, he can shoot it a little and he's fearless on the court. Will Harris is versatile player who transferred from Virginia. Key an eye on him. Mike Black and Fran Urli are first year players, I have no idea what to expect out of them. Brent Gifford is the definition of "big white stiff." He poses no threat on the offensive or defensive end.

* You can learn more about Ambrose here.

* MarkSingelais in the Albany Times Union writes that the Danes are looking to crash Boeheim's party tonight.

* The official page for the basketball team is here.

* For those of you on twitter - check out head coach Will Brown's twitter feed.

* And sadly, some of the guys in the video will not be suiting up for the Danes tonight. UAlbany invited some of the local reporters who cover the team to go through a practice with them this year, the video evidence is below.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

What I'm Wondering


One Idiot's observations from a weekend of sports viewing:

* How many TV shows has Jay Mohr starred in?

* We really only sent 55 players down to Pitt? Seriously?

* Should a Top 5 team like Cincy really struggle to get by UConn?

* Did Mike Williams and his crew hit it big at Turning Stone?

* Could Charlie Weis, Rich Rodriguez, and Greg Robinson all end up on the same staff somewhere next year?

* Is Jim Harbaugh checking out the real estate listings in Ann Arbor?

* What game does Dave Wannstedt start coaching like Dave Wannstedt?

* Why am I actually watching NBA games this season?

* Why doesn't the NCAA pass legislation giving the SEC exclusive prime time broadcast rights? No other conference can touch these guys.

* Where has all that "What a great job Chip Kelly is doing this year" talk gone?

* Does Notre Dame's crashing back to earth from BCS-dreamland end up costing the Big East a Gator Bowl birth?

* Does MLB Network really have to replay playoff games from this year already?

* How many wins will Jimmy B top out at? 850? 900? 1000?

* What are the ratings for PBA Bowling that ESPN shows opposite NFL football? What do those demographics look like?

Syracuse - Pitt Observations


Photo: Frank OrdoƱez/The Post-Standard

At the start of the Syracuse football season I had an internal war raging within. The rational part of my brain understood SU had won just 10 games over the previous four years. The team lacked depth, didn't have an established quarterback, and due to a large roster purge brought on by a new coaching staff, had zero depth. Winning many games in 2009 simply wasn't going to happen given these circumstances.

However, the lifelong, hopeless orange fan in me held out hope that Doug Marrone, through some innovative offensive schemes and a take charge attitude, would transform the Orange into an unlikely success story. After beating Northwestern in game 3, it looked like this was a possibility. Now, after 9 games, it's clear that the first scenario is true. The Pitt left no doubt about that.

Syracuse brought 55 players to Western Pennsylvania with them. The NCAA scholarship limit is 85. It goes without saying that when you're working with 30 less players than other teams, the results aren't usually good.

Pitt proved yesterday they have superior athletes, better skill position players, and are deeper, more talented team. They deserved to win the game. It doesn't make the loss any easier from a fan's perspective. We've suffered through 4.75 years of bad, losing football.

When Doug Marrone was hired, he stated on numerous occasions his job was to win and win now. I wouldn't expect him to say anything different. If a football coach tells you he's not trying to win, something is clearly wrong. However, it's clear from Marrone's actions, he's looking to build for the future.

If he cared about winning now, Mike Williams would still be on the team. Antwon Bailey and his other rule breaking team mates would have suited up. He's changing the culture, and that's not an easy thing to do. It's the right thing to do.

Sadly, it also makes for some painful football games. The Pitt game was one of them.

Observations

* I really like the way Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue are playing. They have developed throughout the year into a pair of very good linebackers. If they can find someone to play the WIL, the linebacking corps for next year will be a strength of the team.

* Delone Carter runs hard every week. It's good to see that translating into yards for him. He's a heck of a football player.

* It's clear both quarterbacks are limited. While the calls for Nassib to play reached a fever pitch this past week, his play on the road v. a top 15 opponent was nothing to write home about. I still think he needs to keep getting reps and the second SU hits 7 losses and isn't bowl eligible, he should get every snap under center.

* Without Mike Williams, this team has no outside threats. The receivers were handed a golden chance to show what they could do yesterday and they came up empty.

* The offense has been very conservative. It's clear the coaching staff, with the talent they have at their disposal wants to play things conservatively and not beat themselves. The problem is, the team always beats itself with dumb penalties and turnovers. It will be interesting to see if this changes down the road when there are more play makers on the roster.

* Three separate times on third down SU receivers ran routes that were short of the first down maker. That's not acceptable.

* Syracuse is averaging 12.5 points per game in Big East play.

* The secondary was bad when everyone was healthy. Now its decimated by injuries - you do the math on that one.

* The defensive containment was really bad yesterday. So bad I think the entire defense could use this.

I'll close with this - Marrone told Bud Poliquin, "As far as I’m concerned, I know exactly what we’re doing with the players that we have and the direction that we’re going," he said. "I feel very comfortable with that. Everyone’s learning and everyone’s getting better."

We certainly hope so coach, because yesterday they weren't better - and Syracuse fans just lived through 4 years of a guy telling us things weren't bad when everyone knew they were.

Greg Robinson Weekly

Photo: Tony Ding, AP
"...Greg Robinson, a man with a rock solid reputation as a defensive guru has completely failed in every sense of the word. The defense is horrendous. If it isn't the worst defense in the nation, it is close to it." ~Bleacher Report

"We forgot to cover people." ~ Wolverine DB Troy Woolfolk, Detroit Free Press


"The Michigan defense hasn't shown much improvement from 2008 to 2009." ~Detroit Free Press

"I have never seen a defense, especially a secondary, that has no idea what they are doing or what they are supposed to do." ~The Stoney Express, Michiganlive.com

"Defense, grade: D-" ~AnnArbor.com

"Michigan Defensive Coordinator" ~ thread from Michigan Scout Board