|This photo is on the second page of a Google image search for offensive futility|
Welcome to the middle of August, when every football team is undefeated and every fan base thinks their team will be great.....or is at least hopeful their team won't be terrible (this does not apply to Cleveland Browns fans).
That's certainly the case with this year's Syracuse Orange team. While the team is picked to finish seventh in the Big East, we are hopeful this year resembles 2010, when no one expected the Orange to do anything and the team surprised and finished the season with eight wins.
And the media coverage, as is generally the case with all teams, has been positive and highlights far more good than bad. Case in point, today we've got glowing reports about JuCo defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster that actually compares him to Dwight Freeney.
Obviously Marrone has had to completely rebuild the program and I'm personally of the opinion he's done a decent job and is on the right track. However, his biggest deficiency to date, and again, in my opinion a big reason why fans are still staying away from the Dome, has been his failure to implement a consistent, or even exciting offense. You can get away with a really conservative approach when you're winning games. When you're not, people aren't going to rally around off-tackle runs for no gain and tight end drags.
So, not to overreact, but when I read Dave Rahme's observations from Fort Drume (as of 9:17 am the Post Standard still has this misspelled), I got a little nervous, because the story contained all the classic hallmarks of the offensive futility that has plagued the Orange under Marrone's otherwise capable leadership.
Let's review and break down some specifics:
Perhaps the tone was set earlier during a red-zone scrimmage when normally sure-handed tight end David Stevens dropped a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib (Stevens atoned for the error a few plays later).
For years we've seen this team miss opportunities when it really needs them via the dropped pass. Whether its a dropped a ball in the end zone again, a key drop on third down to keep the drive alive, or a missed deep ball, SU hasn't capitalized. This team isn't the Patriots, opportunities to score don't come in bunches.
Maybe it was set when offensive tackle Lou Alexander jumped ahead of the snap count.
Michael Hay flashback anyone?
Maybe it was set when backup quarterback Charley Loeb misread a receiver’s cut and lobbed an interception directly into the hands of cornerback Jaston George in the end zone.
This is known as the Greg Paulus special.
Nassib and junior tight end Beckett Wales continue to be on the same page. Wales is the “hot read” on a lot of plays, and he and Nassib are developing great chemistry in turning potential sacks into productive gains.
All I can think about when I read this is the last two years of Nassib running for his life and then dumping the ball to Nick Provo for a two yard gain. This isn't the cornerstone of an offense that can stretch the field.
All we were missing in this story were reports of Ryan Nassib overthrowing every receiver who ran a route longer than 10 yards and it would be last year all over again.
I fully realize it was one day in a long preseason camp -- so let's hope it was just that, one day. Otherwise, Markus Pierce-Brewster really will have to be Dwight Freeney for this team to have any shot this year.
Now that I've overreacted to something trivial even though I said I wouldn't, we now return you to our regularly scheduled program of old SU programs, eBay's greatest hits, and writing dopey captions on pictures.