Syracuse emerged from the first part of it's 2010 season exactly how we hoped. With three wins, a new-found sense of pride and an inkling that we might just be able to keep doing this for the rest of the season.
Now, the tough part. Taking all those hopes and expectations and putting them into practice. And it all begins with a great test...going to Tampa to take on the South Florida Bulls.
Using Skip Holtz Logic, the Orange should have beaten USF last season, if not for the five interceptions Greg Paulus threw. So who's to say they can't do it this year? If they want to get it done, the Syracuse offense is going to have to come out firing. And then keep on firing.
Conversely, SU must establish the ground game if it hopes to have a shot. It must keep USF’s athletic defense honest, allowing sophomore quarterback Ryan Nassib to do what he does best — play-action pass. If he has time to go through his progressions the Orange offense will be productive. If he has to operate under duress, it will be in trouble. It needs to give him a chance by running the ball effectively.
Van Chew has been a critical piece of the Orange attack all season. The deep threat that Chew provides continues to be a pleasant surprise for Marrone and SU:
"I saw him do some things last year, run some really nice routes and stuff," Marrone said. "But I don’t know if I ever thought he would be big or strong enough to ever help."
"My whole life people always said I was too skinny to do this or that," Chew said. "I just prove them wrong every time I make a play."
You could say that Van intends to make them "chew" on it. And then I would punch you for saying that.
Good news for the Orange as they try to get Chew the ball, starting strong safety Jerrell Young will miss the game with an ankle injury. Though, if there's anyone SU needs to keep an eye on, it's Jon Lejiste, the defensive back who loves to blitz and has the sacks to prove it.
Lejiste leads the Bulls with three sacks -- and with two forced fumbles on those plays -- and only one defensive back in all of Division I-A football can boast more sacks than the quiet, always-smiling sophomore from Delray Beach.
"I really enjoy it. As long as Coach keeps calling blitz, I'm going to keep trying to make plays," said Lejiste, who has 12 tackles as the Bulls' starting strong safety. "I'm very happy, but I'm looking forward to getting more, too."
For USF, the strategy is clear. Shut down Carter, keep pressure on Nassib and make one of Syracuse's unsung heroes try to beat you:
The Orange have three clear offensive leaders -- quarterback Ryan Nassib, running back Delone Carter, and the delightfully named Van Chew at receiver. (If you're coming to the game from north of town, I think you can buy a Van Chew at the Flying J on I-75 and Highway 52.) Nassib has thrown nine touchdowns in four games, Carter is a 220-pound bowling ball who's run for over 100 yards a game and is averaging 5.7 yards a carry, and Chew has 19 catches for 343 yards. Granted Nassib can spread the ball around some, but make someone else make the big play if you can.