I could recap my thoughts from Syracuse's 42-41 loss to Northwestern but I'm not sure what I can add to the conversation that hasn't already been said. Make sure you've read up on Jeremy's recap from the Dome and Dan's post-game analysis for the good stuff.
Has there ever been a more encouraging loss in the history of Syracuse Orange football? I know Doug Marrone doesn't see it that way and I know a lot of folks out there don't see it that way but, if we accept the fact that it goes down in the loss column and let it go, wasn't that one of the most encouraging offensive performances you've ever seen from this team to open a season?
I could throw stat after stat at you put you've seen them all by now. Like Dan said, Ryan Nassib is finally becoming the QB we hoped he'd become. Sure he's got issues on the long ball and it took him a little while to get into the zone, but, assuming you don't expect everyone to be perfect, he looked about as good as any Syracuse QB since one of those guys who's last name started with Mc.
The mental issues. My goodness, the mental issues. It's the only thing that gives me pause about Doug Marrone. Why do his teams always seem so prone to them? I would have thought that given his tradition-first approach, hard-nose tactics and putting him team through the rigors of an Army base for a week, that they'd be a finely tuned machine, or at least close to it. I know it's the first game of the season but it wasn't Jerome Smith's first time attempting to catch a pass in the flat and it wasn't Keon Lyn's first time hitting a QB near the sidelines with less than a minute to go. First game of the season or thirteenth game of the season, you gotta know...
And that's really the point. Get the mental errors in check, sort themselves out, and this football team is bowl bound. No doubt about it. I know that as much as I know that they're going to lose to the USC Trojans this weekend. Sure I'll talk about the ways it might happen and hope to God that they can pull off a miracle but...you and I know when we look in the mirror what we're up against.
But that's fine. Let this team start 0-2. I'm no longer unreasonably concerned about Stony Brook. I think we have a fantastic chance to beat a mediocre-at-best Minnesota squad on the road. I fully expect to beat Pitt and Temple. UConn's got a stout defense but nothing we can't slice up. Louisville looks really good but I'll take Nassib against that secondary. Rutgers, USF and Cincy are the wild cards. Missouri, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
I see six wins in there. How bout you?
By the way, let's not forget that the Northwestern game did not include the efforts of Sir Alec Lemon and Justin Pugh, arguably two of the top four players on our roster. How much better will the offense look when they're back (because it looked pretty good even without them)?
I'm excited about the 2012 football season. It's going to be exciting and heart-pounding and fun and painful and wonderful and excruciating and record-breaking and when it's all over, I'm pretty confident that we're going to be playing a game in mid-to-late December.