|Orignal Photo: Frank Ordonez/Post Standard|
The results of that change have been mixed. The Orange are piling up more yards than we've seen in a long, long time. Unfortunately these yards are paired with a voluminous amount of turnovers and a red zone ineptitude that would make Andy Reid blush....or at the very least fire his defensive coordinator.
Syracuse has played a tough scheduleand been in every game that's been played - but the season has largely been derailed by turnovers, bad penalties, turnovers, questionable situational play calling, turnovers, a lack of forced turnovers on defense, atrocious special teams play and turnovers (did I mention turnovers?). This has doomed a team with some talent and experience and relegated SU to an all-too familiar location -- college football irrelevance.
Halfway through the campaign, the only thing we know for sure is: The 2012 season is guaranteed to be a disappointment. Consider the following:
- If SU somehow manages to get it's act together and runs the table (extremely unlikely) the team finishes 8-4 and we all look back in disappointment at the fact that they gave away the Northwestern, Minnesota and Rutgers games with awful turnovers.
- If the team rallies to finish 4-2, that's a .500 year with a trip to some miserable game like the BVA Compass Bowl. Approximately 23 SU fans will travel to the game, which will reflect poorly on the program, and a loss still leaves SU with it's third losing season in 4 years with Marrone as the head coach.
- If the team finishes 3-3 or worse (most likely) it's another losing season and no bowl game. Clearly, that's a disappointment given where we are in the Marrone rebuilding proces and with the ACC looming next year.
As a life-long Syracuse fan - and that life is quickly approaching four decades (shudder) - this has been a brutal, brutal stretch for the program. The decline under Pasqualoni was slow, disappointing, and torturous, especially considering the heights the football team reached in the late 80s and early 1990s. The disaster that was the Greg Robinson era burned down an old house that needed some TLC and not a blow torch - and now four years into the Marrone era, you have to wonder if the program will ever get it together and you have to wonder if Doug is the guy that can do it. The first half of the 2012 season has left us with more questions than answers. Questions like:
- Why do his teams consistently turn the ball over?
- Why hasn't, after four years, his teams EVER been able to even reach competence on special teams? It is astounding that this unit has been this bad for this long. All you have to do is look at Rutgers to see how good special teams play can change a program's fortune. This year, in particular, has been a dumpster fire with this units mistakes costing the team the Rutgers and Northwestern games.
- Why haven't we seen him bring in any true game breakers at the skill positions?
We all want Marrone to succeed. He's a Syracuse guy. He's built the program the right way, with integrity and accountability. You can tell from the look on his face and the words that come out of his mouth he wants to succeed more than anyone. Yet, with the exception of 2010, he fields teams that play sloppy, undisciplined football.
On the plus side, there are six games remaining and we know this squad is certainly better than UConn, Temple and USF (although its capable of losing to all three). If the Orange win those three and steal a game vs. Louisville, Cincinnati or the mess of a team that Missouri is turning into, at least that "disappointing" bowl game, and the extra practices it affords, is still attainable.
However to make this happen Marrone is going to have to wave his magic wand and make Ryan Nassib less shaky under pressure, make the receivers magically faster, more sure handed and better at shedding press coverage, get every player on the team some Lester Hayes style stickum, and become less than horrific on special teams to save the season - and maybe his SU head coaching career.
The time is running out for Doug Marrone to make the magic happen. Four years ago he told us he was going to win, and win now. We're all still waiting.