ACC Football 2012 Payback Games: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse and QB Ryan Nassib Are Looking for Redemption and a Return to the Postseason in 2012

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Syracuse Orange

Opponent: Rutgers

Last Year: Loss, 19-16 vs. Rutgers

This Year: October 13, @ Rutgers

For some Orange fans, the five straight losses to close out the 2011 season may burn more than this defeat from all the way back on October 1. But from my own point of view, there’s a fair chance that late losing streak never happens if they’d pulled out a win against the Scarlet Knights. A victory against the Knights that day (which likely would have happened if not for a Antwon Bailey fumble) could have set the team up for a 6-1 record, top 25 ranking and the type of momentum that reverses a program’s fortunes. While they still managed to defeat West Virginia two weeks later, clinching bowl eligibility for a second straight season would have turned the 2012 season from “make-or-break” to “on-the-rise.” Continue reading

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2012 NFL Draft Preview: Syracuse

Syracuse DE Chandler Jones May End Up as a Top-20 Pick in the NFL Draft

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 43 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 26 and 28.

For Syracuse, all four of their potential draft picks hurt, but none more than defensive end Chandler Jones. And while he keeps climbing up draft boards, fans’ expectations of the defensive line continue to drop with no real sign of what’s next. They’ve seen what happens when he’s not involved in the pass-rush. It’s not pretty.

Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Junior

After functioning as the de facto leader of the Orange defense these past few years, Jones will leave a gaping hole which the team may struggle to fill all season. As for his future, however, Chandler Jones is slated to join his brother, former SU player Arthur Jones, in the NFL. At 6’5″ and 266 pounds, he’s a perfect fit for the now-common transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, though also more suited for a 4-3 scheme. While those who’ve watched his career closely know the type of speed and strength he can bring on both pass- and run-defense, he’s better off using the line to lead runners to him. Of course, he did rack up his fair share of sacks in college, and that’s likely the role any team will call on him for again. With his height and long arms, plus instincts folks are raving about, there’s a lot he can do in the passing game. Expect him to be drafted well before the first round’s over. Continue reading

ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse Receiver Marcus Sales Returns as a Featured Part of the Offense Once More

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: Syracuse Orange

After losing their final five games of 2011, the Syracuse Orange are surrounded by questions. What happened to the team that lit up West Virginia back in October? The offense, the defense — all of it? Though that questions will likely remain unanswered, a lot of work needs to be done to replace the team’s key departures. Major contributors on both offense (Antwon Bailey, Nick Provo) and defense (Chandler Jones, Phillip Thomas) are headed to the NFL and head coach Doug Marrone would love nothing more than to have those spots settled this spring. At running back, the Orange are set by most accounts. Rising-juniors Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith both showed promise in limited action last year, and at worst, they could split time until a clear starter is chosen.Tight end, on the other hand, features enough unproven targets to make it a complete crapshoot. Lucky for ‘Cuse they’re already settled at quarterback and wide receiver though, giving these other skill positions time to develop. While the seasoned Ryan Nassib won’t have his normally TE safety valve, the hope is that reinstated big-play receiver Marcus Sales can team with SU record-setter Alec Lemon to give the passing game much-needed firepower. Sales’ homerun capabilities were sorely missed in 2011, and we’ll see how quickly he can shake the rust off this spring. Continue reading