"It's going to be a challenge, but I think it's exciting just to be back in Syracuse,'' Blackwell said by phone from his off-season home in Sarasota, Fla. "I obviously have a lot of ties to the area going back to high school and college. It's something new and exciting.''
An alumnus of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Mertz was also actively involved in the marching band during his time at college, joining when he was a freshman. After graduating in 2001, he taught music in public schools and received his master’s degree in music education, also from SU, before he was hired to work as director in 2005.
When USA teammates Kyrie Irving and James Harden stage a shooting contest, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins becomes the de facto referee.
"There's so much energy," said freshman Bryan Short, who attended on a free freshman ticket and won one of those brand-new $100 jerseys with the off-putting numerals. "You can feel it. I don't know what I expected but I like it."
"We need it," SU quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said regarding the bye. "It's a wake-up call."
Senior linebacker Cameron Lynch has been named a Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week Nominee after his 15 tackle performance on Friday night.
Struggling to defend the run against Villanova is not a good sign for a team that faces off against Notre Dame, Florida State and Clemson later this season. While the front 4 eventually did save the game in stopping the Wildcats two-point conversion for the win, it was a rare stop for this group. This level of performance is unacceptable against an FCS team, especially when Scott Shafer’s goal for this team is 8 wins.
Fortunately for Syracuse, after nearly looking for a mulligan out of the gate, the finish was frantic but fruitful. "We’re 1-0," declared Scott Shafer leading off his postgame comments. "Was it pretty? No, it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way."