2011 Syracuse Football Team More Decimated By Injuries Than We Realized

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 30: Marcus Barnett #85 of the Cincinnati Bearcats is tackled by Shamarko Thomas #21 of the Syracuse Orange during the Big East Conference game at Nippert Stadium on October 30 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Walking Dead is a terrible TV show that succeeds based on its potential and its audience's insatiable demand for the genre. It looked fantastic at first, rolling out a memorable pilot that introduced intriguing characters and set up a dynamic struggle to survive. Soon, those characters became one-dimensional, spending most episodes taking walks so that they could have circular conversations where they talked a lot and yet nothing was ever said. And that's when they weren't making out-of-character decisions for the sake of storylines or having weird, poorly-written Shakespearean chats with themselves or being the only person on the road and getting into car accidents that ultimately meant nothing and therefore never needed to exist in the first place.

Many of us keep watching, not because we are enjoying it but because we see the potential and we see the possibilities and we want to believe it will get better even though we have a sneaking suspicion that it won't.

Now comes the part where I draw a comparison between The Walking Dead and Syracuse Orange football. At least, the 2011 version of it.

You could pretty much take everything I just wrote an apply it to the team last year. Great start, huge potential and then an epic freefall that led to fans hate-watching the end result only out of a sense of what could have been or could be in the future.

Of course, we all knew that the 2011 SU team had issues. They got lucky once or twice. They barely escaped with some of those early wins. And they were mired in injuries. But did we really have any true sense of just how mired and just how injured they were?

Michael Cohen at the Daily Orange breaks down some pretty stunning info about just how banged up the Orange were by the time they entered that end-of-season swoon. And when you look at it this way, it's not all that surprising to see why they lost five-straight games to end the year.

Marinovich listed off the walking wounded with ease and named almost all 11 players on the defense. The injuries to Chandler Jones (knee), Keon Lyn (shoulder, hand), Jay Bromley (hand) and Ri’Shard Anderson (hand) were obvious, as their braces and casts were visible during games.

But it was players like Deon Goggins (major shoulder problems), Dyshawn Davis (dislocated shoulder), Shamarko Thomas (partially torn hamstring) and Dan Vaughan (severely strained oblique muscle) who gutted out the season while shrouding their true statuses.

And that doesn't mention Mikhail Marinovich, who says he played the entire season with three herniated discs and a bulging disc in his back. Or Cory Boatman, who wore a molded brace on his right wrist.

Doug Marrone says he keeps this information from the public because he doesn't like to make excuses or play the "woe me" card. Fair enough. Unfortunately, in places where the simplest answers often rise to the top (national media, Syracuse.com comments), people who don't know about these kinds of injuries just channel their inner Skip Bayless and call it a case of "the team quitting on their coach."

You can say a lot of things about the 2011 Syracuse Orange football team but after seeing that list of injuries and see how many of those guys played through them until their bodies literally stopped them, can you honestly say that this team quit on Doug Marrone last year?

Of course, it's not entirely fair to go the other way and say that the team is absolved from losing five-straight. Ryan Nassib's arm still worked and Nate Hackett's playbook remained intact. Injuries don't account for everything. But in a way, it's nice to know there's more to the story than our worst fears. And that it's not so simple to explain why a team goes in the direction it goes.

Maybe there's more going on under the surface at The Walking Dead than I give it credit for and maybe it could have better if a couple little things had happen. I'll be there for the season premiere of the show this season, of course. Expecting to hate-watch it but hoping that I actually enjoy it. We'll see how the season goes. A lot can happen between the beginning and end of a season.

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