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Syracuse vs. Northwestern: The Week Begins

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 30:  Ryan Nassib #12 of the Syracuse Orange looks to throw a pass during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on October 30 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 30: Ryan Nassib #12 of the Syracuse Orange looks to throw a pass during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on October 30 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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On Saturday, the Syracuse Orange will begin the 2012 college football season when they host the Northwestern Wildcats. Before they do, there's still some stuff to sort out. Let's begin sorting...

Coaches: Director of strength and conditioning Hal "Flex" Luther returned to the program after missing camp for 16 days while he had a left hip replacement.

As for all those "OR" placements on the depth chart, Doug Marrone wants you to know he's not just being nice.

"We’re not hiding anything. The kids that are listed on this depth chart and ones with an ‘OR’ are the ones we expect to play," Marrone said. "If they play, they play. If they don’t play, it’s not because we didn’t feel comfortable about putting them in a game."

QB: The big concern about Ryan Nassib is his arm and ability to make the big play. Inside The Loud House says that concern has been misdirected and Nassib has all the weapons he needs in 2012:

Nassib has gone virtually his entire college career without a deep threat. The upgrade to his receiving core this season is head and shoulders above anything he has had to work with in the past.

Alec Lemon is healthy. Marcus Sales is back for his first game following his three touchdown game in the Pinstripe Bowl. We will finally see Ashton Broyld in an Orange uniform. Nassib has the deepest core of skill players that he has had in the past three seasons.

RB: The fullback position is full of feel-good stories with walk-on Clay Cleveland and Carl Cutler, who is coming back from a huge injury. Unfortunately, this is all because Myles Davis, who came to SU this year after a stint at Milford Academy, will likely miss the season due to injuries.

Jerome Smith is listed as the No. 1 back on the depth chart thanks to his experience and consistency.

"I just think consistency. He’s done it more than everyone else," Marrone said. "I think Prince has had a really nice camp. I think he’s done a nice job. … We’ll see how it goes from week to week and how they perform."

WR: Marcus Sales has a reputation for taking it easy in practice and shining in the game and, in that sense, he's already living up to expectations. He was relatively quiet and unmemorable during fall ball, not what you usually want from your deep-ball threat and the healthy-half of your 1-2 punch. When asked if he thought Sales' camp was "quiet," Marrone agreed:

"I think it’s the same thing," Marrone said. "I think I’ve seen some better things out of Marcus, but when you’re a coach and you get questions about someone you always want more. And I think we can get more out of Marcus. And I think he’s given us good effort on the field, and we need to continue to get that type of effort to make him more consistent. But I’ve seen some spots of better things from Marcus."

TE: If I'm reading this correctly, it not only sounds like Ron Thompson will be a no-go for this weekend but he might end up getting redshirted due to a nagging lower body injury. That would suck. That means the pressure is on for Beckett Wales, David Stevens and Josh Parris to perform, especially while Max Beaulieu continues to struggle and Louie Addazio recovers from injury.

OL: Macky MacPherson is aware that some SU fans think he's only here because of his last name. He wants to let those people know that he's aware of your concerns and you can shove them (in a nice way).

"That’s a hard question to answer," Macky MacPherson said recently when asked if he is aware of the snipes, "because it hurts. They don’t know the offense as well as we know it, and there are plenty of things that can go wrong. And I make my mistakes just as much (as anyone else). They’re probably right sometimes when they say I am the one to blame. But, you know, I just go out there and try to play my best."

Jason Emerich's emergence has helped assuage depth concerns. The true freshman is listed as the backup center.

DL: Just because the current depth chart puts Deon Goggins inside at DT, don't expect him to always be there:

"He’s been playing very well for us inside," Marrone said. "He (did) some nice things last year, and we’re expecting the same, if not more, from him this year at the inside position.

"But we also have the ability to move him out there to create a little bit more depth on the outside, since we have a little bit more depth on the inside now."

Marrone says he "feels very good" about Jay Bromley playing against Northwestern, so that's good. I hope.

DB: Syracuse fans will remain in a perpetual state of fear about the defensive secondary until we see otherwise on the field. But Doug Marrone seems to feel good about the status of the secondary, which will be a mix of veterans and young players looking for atone for last season.

"We have Shamarko Thomas, who we’ve been holding back a little, just on contact. But he’ll be ready to go, full speed," Marrone said. "And we’ve got three other safeties we feel comfortable about."

"Durell Eskridge we’re excited about," Marrone said. "And he’ll have his opportunity."