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Syracuse vs Pitt - Defense, Defense, Defense

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Mikhail Marinovich missed practice yesterday with the flu bug. All indications point to him being fine by the time Saturday comes around. Marinovich also injured himself during the South Florida game, though that seems to have sorted itself out as well.

Still, flu bugs and muscle tweaks are nothing for Mikhail, who had to grow up with one of the biggest deterrents you could have while trying to make it in football...his last name. The Boston Globe (for some reason) spoke with Mikhail about what it was like growing up Marinovich and how it affects his life to this day.

He says his father, who studied Eastern European training methods, could squat 1,200 pounds and had a violent temper. Mikhail lived with his mother in LA, but was "kicked out in the streets’’ after she learned of his poor grades his freshman year of high school. He took up residence with Marv in Orange County, but it didn’t work out.

"We used to go at it,’’ Mikhail acknowledges. "Things got rough; he’s a very physical person. I ended up jumping out the second-story window. That was the last time I lived there.’’

Mikhail talks very candidly about his stepbrother and father's misgivings and how he wants to sidestep all of them in his life. He talks about why he needed to get out of Southern California ("I could just see it, the first time I cracked a beer, it’d be like, ‘Oh here we go again.’), Hollywood Hookah ("I had a few talks [with Syracuse coaches] and I decided to focus on why am I here.’’) and the on-campus break-in from a few years ago ("I learned, don’t do stupid things,’’ he says. "That didn’t help me set my name straight.’’).

Marinovich also mentions he gave up his career as a model and recently got married. And when it comes to Doug Marrone and the coaching staff, Mikhail gives them the thumbs up ("They’ve been amazing."). Make sure you give it a read.

Mikhail's defensive teammate Max Suter had a nice week. Suter is doing a lot for the Orange but there's one thing he likes to do more than anything...hit the snot out of people.

"I just like hitting the opponent," the senior strong safety said as he and his teammates prepared to face Pittsburgh at noon Saturday in the Carrier Dome. "It’s great running back kicks and running the ball and touching the ball, but there’s nothing like getting a big hit on someone. That’s what I got recruited to do here. That’s what I like to do."

Orange's 'Speeding Bullet' Right on Target

If there's any one area the Orange need to sort out ASAP, it's penalties. SU has committed the fourth-most penalties per game in the nation (9.2). That comes out to about 76 penalty yards per game. It has to stop.

"There's no such thing as perfect," Smith said. "Right now, we're just working on eliminating mistakes. Last week, we may have had a couple of mistakes here and there. Basically, we just want to work on that.

"We've beat teams in the past with mistakes. If we can just play with fewer mistakes - and hopefully mistake-free - that's what we're really working on right now. Not trying to be perfect. Nobody's perfect."