ACC 2012 Season Preview: Syracuse Orange

After a Disappointing Finish Last Year, the Heat is On Syracuse Head Coach Doug Marrone to Deliver a Winning Season in 2012

Team: Syracuse Orange

2011 W-L: 5-7 (1-6)

Head Coach: Doug Marrone (17-20; fourth season)

Returning Starters: 12 (5 Offense, 7 Defense)

The 2011 season couldn’t have been more frustrating for the Syracuse Orange. Coming off the high of their first bowl win since 2001, big things were expected from SU under coach Doug Marrone. And yes, there were plenty of big accomplishments — a huge Friday night win over West Virginia at the Carrier Dome, the invite to the ACC and Chandler Jones‘s rise into the mid-first round of the NFL Draft, in particular. But what will stick out most is almost certainly the bad. The media smear campaign against them just because they were charter members of the Big East (oh well). The botched referee call versus Toledo. And of course, the horrendous five-game losing streak to end the season. Needless to say, ‘Cuse fans would love to move on to 2012 and leave last year dead and buried in the backyard.

After scoring 30 or more points in four of their first seven games (all wins), SU would never score more than 21 in any of their final five contests. The running game went stale, and quarterback Ryan Nassib — the picture of accuracy throughout the season’s first seven games — tried too hard to pick up the slack and as a result, began making poor decisions that ultimately removed SU from games completely. From a fan’s point of view, play-calling appeared unimaginative and downright suspect, repeatedly going after the same holes and same receivers with the same maddeningly awful results. But still, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett maintained his position and is back on for another go-around with his Tecmo Bowl playbook. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, David Wilson, Andre Branch Among 31 ACC Players Selected

Luke Kuechly Headlines a Long List of ACC Football Players Drafted By NFL Teams This Weekend

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially in the books, after 253 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 33, if you include the two draftees from Syracuse (for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just the SEC and Big Ten in terms of NFL-bound talent this season. While not the only thing that counts by any means, moving players on to the NFL resonates with potential recruits, and does help all 14 schools in one way or another.

We’ve included various breakdowns below — from school-by-school, to conference comparisons, an NFL team-by-team list, as well as the full roster of ACC players chosen between Thursday and Saturday. Also, stop by later on, to see our compilation of the most confusing non-selections from the ACC. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, Quinton Coples Among Four ACC First-Rounders

Former UNC Defensive End Quinton Coples Will Now Be Suiting Up for the New York Jets

Of the 32 players selected during Thursday’s first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, four ended up hailing from ACC schools. And while three of them were expected to go in the opening round, another appeared to be a slight reach, though nothing to be surprised about.

We’ll have a full breakdown post-Draft next week, but for now, here are the league’s four first round picks:

No. 9 Overall: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, selected by the Carolina Panthers

We said Kuechly was top-10 the other day, and it ends up we — like many others — were spot-on in that assessment. Carolina gets themselves a fierce competitor and defender who’s likely to play an active role in the struggling defense from early on.

No. 16 Overall: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina, selected by the New York Jets

Something tells me that Coples’ big issue (effort) will become a non-factor once he arrives at Jets camp this summer. Either that, or he’ll get sucked into the Rex Ryan circus. For his sake, let’s hope he can avoid the distractions in New York, and play up to the potential he’s always shown in spurts. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Top 10 ACC Prospects

On the Day Before the NFL Draft, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly Looks Like He’ll Be the ACC’s First Selection

Over the last few weeks, we took a look at the ACC players that would find themselves selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday, April 26. And now, that day is nearly here, and we can finally end the charade of these athletes not getting paid to do what they do (only half-joking)…

If you’d like to take a more thorough look at how each of these prospects stack up, feel free to glance over all 14 teams’ draft preview posts, which you’ll find links to in the series’ final post for Wake Forest. As for this post, however, we’ll be listing the top 10 prospects, with a quick note on their skill set, and where they could possibly end up. Feel free to disagree with these, of course, since no one actually talks about when projecting out the NFL Draft.

Top 10 ACC Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft

1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (Projected Round: 1)

As the top linebacker in the 2012 NFL Draft class, Kuechly could go to a myriad of teams, depending on need, but consensus says he’s a surefire top-10 selection. With this in mind, his most likely destinations (barring trades) are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins or Carolina Panthers.

2. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina (Projected Round: 1)

The New York Giants have proven continuously that a consistent pass rush can lead teams single-handedly to the Super Bowl — a strategy that will benefit players like Coples this year, who know how to get after the quarterback. Nearly every team in the middle of the first round could use him, but odds are on the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals or San Diego Chargers. Continue reading

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

Top 15 ACC Players at the 2012 NFL Draft Combine

Boston College LB Luke Kuechly Leads a Strong Crop of ACC Players to the NFL Draft Combine

Another crop of players leaves the college ranks this spring to take part in one of my favorite events growing up (that is, until Roger Goodell ruined it): the NFL Draft. In preparation for their selections come April, the league released its official Combine invite list, and there are plenty of ACC players in attendance. In total, the 14 teams had 51 selections, with Miami scoring the most (eight). No surprise with the questions still looming over that program.

Below, we’ll list the top 15 prospects invited to the Combine, followed by a quick team-by-team list based on total numbers.

Top 15 ACC Players at the 2012 NFL Draft Combine

1. Luke Kuechly, LB/Boston College

2. David Wilson, RB/Virginia Tech

3. Andre Branch, DE/Clemson

4. Lamar Miller, RB/Miami

5. Dwight Jones, WR/North Carolina

6. T.J. Graham, WR/NC State

7. Sean Spence, LB/Miami

8. Chris Givens, WR/Wake Forest Continue reading