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Syracuse vs. Rutgers: Shoulder Chips A-Plenty

When two schools are battling over recruiting territory as fiercely as Syracuse and Rutgers are, there's always going to be a lot of bad blood, resentment and long memories between players on both sides. 

Take Rutgers defensive tackle Scott Vallone. He dreamed of playing for the Orange as a kid. Now, apparently because SU didn't recruit him, he's a Scarlet Knight.

"I always talked about [how] that was going to be the school I'd go to," Vallone said. "It didn't work out like that, but I'm very happy where I am now. I know a lot of guys on Syracuse. Their offensive guard, [Andrew] Tiller, is from my hometown, so it will be fun to play against those guys."

No hard feelings, Scott. But chances are there will be plenty of hard feelings down the road for folks who feel disrespected by the other school. Many a chip will rest on many a shoulder.

What else is new, injuries are a major storyline for the game this weekend. For the Orange, the major concern is with both star receivers, Sir Alec Lemon and Vanzago Chew. Lemon has an injury to his left hand while Chew is recovering from "bumps and bruises," whatever that entails.

If they do play, the duo are going to have to do some serious improvement in the dropsies category. Thankfully, they're up to the challenge:

"Van and I both feel that we can be thrown to and make big plays," Lemon said. "We just want to go out there and show it to the team and our coaches."

Added Lemon: "When you see one-on-ones, you're going to try to get it to the receivers and make the receivers make the plays. That's the challenge that we receivers have to take. They're saying that they can guard us, and we have to go out and take that personally and play the game we can play."

Offensive tackles Michael Hay and Ian Allport, who both missed last weeks game, both practiced yesterday and should be good to go. Last week redshirt freshman Andrew Phillips ended up taking the load at the right tackle spot and did pretty well for a No. 3 guy.

"He really did well," Marrone said. "He was tough. He had no real problems. I’m really proud of him."

Of course, win this game and the Orange are bowl eligible. For seniors like Derrell Smith, it would be the vindication they've worked so hard for all year long.

"People talk to you differently now. Instead of walking past you and saying ‘tough loss,’ they say ‘good luck this weekend,’ " said Smith. "There’s so much more optimism about the program now.

"It has definitely been gratifying. I came here, got switched around a lot (originally coming in as a running back) and we hadn’t won before this year. It feels good to be in the situation we’re in right now."

Syracuse University football practice