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Three Games In, Syracuse Football Seems To Be On Track

If I told you before the season that Syracuse would be 2-1 going into the Colgate game, the defense would look stout, the offense was improving and the special teams was hodgepodge, you almost certainly would have told me, "Yep, sounds about right."

And here we are. Three weeks in and, as far as I can tell, right on track. There's still lots of work to be done for sure, we're not out of the woods just yet. But things look a million times better than they did two years ago, and even much better than they did last year (I have no idea what Dave's talking about).Doug Marrone isn't resting on his Akron & Maine-beating laurels for sure:

"The first two games we started off well, both offensively and defensively," Marrone said Monday, referring to the season-opening win at Akron and a loss at Washington. "I thought our defense did a good job with Maine, but offensively we didn't start as fast as we should have. That will be addressed. That's a concern. It's a little disappointing when you drop balls."

It's fair to say if he hasn't been a revelation, Ryan Nassib has at least been a welcome surprise. We expected him to grasp the offense and handle his business. I don't think anyone expected him to be able to put together good drives and throw a lot of TDs.  That is, when he has protection.

Through three games, Nassib has carried the SU offense, thanks to a 148.27 passer rating and 691 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Saturday, Nassib went 19-for-28, throwing for 260 yards. Carter has struggled somewhat to start the season, averaging 82.3 yards per game. It’s a number down from Carter’s 110.25 yards per game he averaged over the course of SU’s final four games last season.

"It feels pretty good, especially with all the great quarterbacks that have come through here," Nassib said. "I am extremely humbled and grateful."

Soft spoken and carrying a big arm-cannon. All he needs is a walrus mustache and Teddy Roosevelt would be proud. And according to Marrone, "We've only touched the surface on  how good he could be." That's exciting...

As for the task at hand, the FCS Colgate Red Raiders come to the Dome on Saturday. Doug Marrone, he of the belief that Syracuse has no right to look ahead of anyone, is impressed by what he sees over in Hamilton, NY.

"I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the coaching that goes on there, as far as schemes, systems, people attacking each other. It’s an unbelievable respect I have for coaches in that conference," Marrone told reporters during his weekly news conference in the football wing at Manley Field House.

"You can tell that their players know exactly what they need to do," he said. "There are some teams that you can get in certain formations and out-leverage. You can’t do that with this team, because it’s very well coached."

Doug says he plans on studying Colgate's system over the summer. Hopefully not until after he's taken Mrs. Marrone and the wee ones on a nice vacation. Perhaps Barbados? Guess it depends how much bowl money he brings in before then...

As for those Red Raiders, they come into the game 1-1. They opened the season with a 30-29 win over Monmouth, led by QB Greg Sullivan who threw for 180 yards and ran for 74 more and 2 TDs.They then followed that up by laying a big stinker against Furman, losing 45-15. Colgate’s Nate Eachus had 134 yards in that one, become the 15th Raiders running back to rush for 2,000 career yards.

The Raiders don't seem to have much of a passing game working for them this season, so they're going to have to try to out-grind the Orange. With our defensive line and linebackers, I just don't see that happened.

Syracuse vs. Maine Football: Marrone's Monday Press Conference

Bud Poliquin: Orange against the Colgate Raiders