2012 Program Preview - Syracuse

Hey Ryan, really sorry to interrupt this football game and all, but where's the potato salad? That way? Thanks, buddy. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Syracuse, Syracuse who are you? You're not the team that we thought we knew.

Such good times had with Pasqualon'. Much worse with Robinson, Marrone.

One bowl in these seven seasons leaves fans of Orange seeking reasons.

So here we are, helmed by Nassib....uh...uh, Nassib...oh. Winning more games would really be massive.

Fine, you do me one better there, Eminem.

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (SBN Syracuse community), SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN, CBS Sports preview

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Ryan Nassib
QB
RS Sr.
6
Marcus Sales
WR
RS Sr. 7
Alec Lemon
WR
Sr. UD
Justin Pugh
OT
RS Jr. 4


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Deon Goggins
DL
RS Sr. 7
Dan Vaughan
OLB
RS Sr. UD
Shamarko Thomas
SS
Sr. UD
Marquis Spruill
ILB
Jr. 5
Dyshawn Davis
LB
Soph.
N/A


Summary

A few day 3 options led by Justin Pugh, this Syracuse team just won't have much to offer next April. Given the quality of recent classes, it's not going to be a good stretch on the NFL front for the Orange. Things aren't horrible on the sporting front given their basketball team, but it's just a tough stretch on the football front. With a move to the ACC coming next season, perhaps the conference switch will cure what ails them. It may be painful for basketball fans who will miss the pageantry of early March hoops in MSG, but winning cures what ails ya. Just saying.

Key games

Minnesota (away) - Week 4 (Sat., Sep. 22 - 8:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

This is a great matchup that, looking ahead, either team could conceivably win. Both are near the bottom of their conferences at this point. And while I'm trying to compare the offseasons, nothing happened in Syracuse's down time (if you can call it that) that matches the tragedy of Minnesota LB Gary Tinsley's passing.

If nothing else, we can note that both programs had surprising wins in 2011. Minnesota picked up home wins against Illinois and Iowa (a one-point victory in which they scored two touchdowns in the final 8 1/2 minutes but failed both two-point conversions). Syracuse, on the other hand and more surprisingly, beat West Virginia by 26. Read that again. Google it to make sure I'm not wrong. It makes no sense. Syracuse's other four wins were: a 7-point overtime win over Wake, a 7-point win over Rhode Island (who I honestly didn't know had a football team), a 3-point overtime win over Toledo and a 3-point win over Tulane. Sometimes, football doesn't make sense. That Friday night stomping of West Virginia didn't make sense.

Connecticut (home) - Week 8 (Fri., Oct. 19 - 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

It's not really a must-win game. Given Syracuse's prospects, there likely isn't one on the schedule. But it's a can-win game. With Syracuse at a bit of a crossroads both as a program and with Head Coach Doug Marrone, you wouldn't get any flak from me for suggesting that can-win games are must-win games.

Key matchups

OT Justin Pugh v. USC DE Wes Horton, Week 2 - Sat., Sep. 8

Now allowed back into the post-season, USC will be motivated to start their season off on the right foot. With Hawaii and Syracuse up first, the Trojans likely travel to Stanford in week 3 at 2-0. Horton shined in limited playing time in 2011 picking up four sacks, one of which came against Syracuse (video of that sack, possibly the easiest ever). It looks like Horton has the edge on Devon Kennard to slide over to RDE in Nick Perry's absence. If it takes place, we'll be treated to a great matchup here between two legit NFL prospects.

ILB Marcus Spruill v. Stony Brook RB Marcus Coker, Week 3 - Sat., Sep. 15

Coker transferred from Iowa back in January after a strange series of events that ultimately saw him lose his scholarship. As a true sophomore in 2011, he had some really impressive performances, and was on track to be one of the better RBs in the Big Ten this year if not nationally. As it is, he landed at a great school for a running back (and one of the better teams in all of the FCS) and should factor in the 2013 NFL Draft. It will be Spruill's job to track him out of the backfield and make sure we aren't served with yet another FCS-FBS upset.

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