LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Ryan Nassib #12 of the Syracuse Orangemen throws a pass against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 38-17. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Doug Marrone and the Syracuse Orange football team made their public debut on Saturday with a controlled scrimmage and open practice in Rochester.
So, with our first official look at the 2012 Orange, what did we learn? Quite a lot, actually.
On Closed Practices
Based on the way some people have reacted to Doug Marrone closing spring practice, you'd think that it was the most important part of the season (seriously, get over it). The head coach reiterated his reasons for doing it on Saturday.
"Just to close a couple practices to make sure you should be doing what you’re doing," he said. "I don’t look at it as closed or trying to hide anything. We were just trying to figure out ourselves exactly what we wanted to be doing before we took it out to the public."
What would a Syracuse football spring be without a massive list of players unable to play due to injuries and/or academic trouble? We already knew about nine players who wouldn't be lining up this spring (Keon Lyn, Carl Cutler, Marquis Spruill, Micah Robinson, Rob Trudo, Sean Hickey, Alec Lemon, Adonis Ameen-Moore and Terrel Hunt). Now we find out about sx more (specific reasons unknown for now).
Nothing stirs a quarterback controversy quite like saying you're not trying to stir a quarterback controversy and Doug Marrone did just that.
"I’m not here to create a quarterback controversy," he said. "Ryan has had a very good spring, but Charley Loeb has made great strides this spring. And John Kinder is playing better than he ever has for us."
For the record, following this, Nassib looked relatively solid while Loeb and Kinder struggled. My guess is that Marrone is just using a little psychological tactic to keep Ryan's large head on straight and not to get complacent.
Ashton Broyld, who had apparently been splitting time between QB and RB, spent the day working with the QBs. He took two snaps during the scrimmage, both runs out of the shotgun formation. Expect to see that a whole lot more this season.
Broyld and Kinder did show off their elusiveness on the run and that could end up serving them well in Marrone's new offensive scheme.
We expected to hear that Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith were leading the run attack this spring and we were correct in thinking so. Marrone really seems to like him some Jerome Smith, who had a productive day.
"I thought Jerome played extremely well today," Marrone said. "Jerome has been having a very good spring. … What you saw today is probably consistent with what’s been going on through the spring with Jerome."
Both Smith and Gulley had big gains on the ground as well as through the air.
Marcus Sales could be the biggest X-factor headed into the season. Will he be the guy who didn't even make the depth chart in 2010? Or will he be the guy who stole the show in the Pinstripe Bowl?
His performance on Saturday leaned more towards the latter, scoring two touchdowns.
"He’s had a very good camp. He made a heck of a catch down here on third down," Marrone said of Sales. "He has the ability to make those catches."
All eyes on Deon Goggins, the former nose tackle who has moved to defensive end. Goggs had a big day, grabbing a fumble and a sack. Donnie Simmons and Brandon Sharpe also got in some time at the ends.
With Spruill out, Siriki Diabate and Lewellyn Coker played took up most of the space in the middle. Cameron Lynch seems to be pushing incumbent Dan Vaughan for his starting spot on the edge while Dyshawn Davis is fending off Oliver Vigille for the other.
#SHAMARKO Thomas and Jeremi Wilkes look penciled in as your starting safeties, but Wilkes better watch his back. Marrone praised Shu Mungwa, Durell Eskridge and Ritchy Desir for their efforts as they push for playing time.
"It’s great to see Shutang out there," Marrone said. "He was injured all last year. I told him, ‘It’s great to see you run and not limping anymore.’"
Ross Krautman went a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, so that's nice. I assume he'll keep that up all season long.
Nolan Weidner shares his thoughts after watching Syracuse University football's first public practice/scrimmage