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The View From Section 241

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I will need a few posts to do this. I would ask that people let me finish before commenting. I will make clear when I'm done. Thanks.

I do not know that I have ever seen a football game that was more different half to half than this one. A first half where, on both sides of the ball, we had offenses so incompetent that it looked like some 9th graders trying to learn the game. And then a second half where they never did stop us, and where it took some great individual plays for us to ever stop them. Football is one strange game. But credit to our Huskies. Coming off that half, it would have been easy to throw in the towel. We scored on the first possession (thank you Nick Williams), and then were in FG range three more times in the first quarter, but went turnover, turnover, run ourselves out of FG range, and did not break open a game that should have been broken open. Shades of Iowa State. When the offense continued to deteriorate in the 2d Q, and Syracuse finally started to move the ball a bit, I thought we might give up to some extent. Frankly, a smart team might have. But we showed that we may not have playmakers, but we don't have quit either. And now we are two home wins, and someone beating Cincy, from actually going into the last week of the season with a shot at sharing a conference title. Rutgers and Louisville both won today -- LV with a much bigger win -- but they were both outgained by huge amounts, and are teams that have days where they have trouble scoring points. And, this year in our conference, being at home is huge.
 
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Nice, sunny, cool fall day. Close to a full house. It was not a very enthusiastic crowd. There was little doubt that the 3-5 start, combined with the conference crap, had taken a lot of enthusiasm out of it. But, coming off this win, I expect it will be much, much better in two weeks for what will clearly be a big game. The only good to come out of the lack of enthusiasm was the lack of any tension whatsoever with visiting Orange fans. I was worried if it would be a little like BC's one trip to the Rent. It wasn't. I didn't see snide comments, glares, nothing. The one good thing about a blase crowd. The booing of the Huskies I could live without, but we've talked about that before.

Offense, defense and special teams. Starting with specials. Which, is probably where we won. Great jobs by Christen and Wagner. Solid coverage on kickoffs. A phenomenal game by Nick Williams. I'm sure that meant there was more of an effort blocking, but an awful lot of it was just individual skill and effort by Nick. And a missed kick by the 'Cuse to end the first half. More of this will make it much, much easier to finish out this homestand with two more wins.

On defense, like so many games before this one we totally controlled the other team's running game. We started out defending their passing game well, but then it started looking more and more like some of the disasters. But, a great, great individual play by Sio Moore, who had gone out hurt in the prior series, saved the game. Then, when we went up, and they had one last shot at tieing, we gave up enough plays to make me nervous, but some big plays as well got us out with the win. A sack by Trevardo, the blocked pass to end the game by Reyes, and the biggest of all -- the third down pass deflection by Tymeer Brown. As to personnel, Jerome Williams went in when Sio went out, so he is clearly the 4th LB. I didn't see Marcus Campbell, but the other backups on the DL (Jennings, Stephens and Wirth) all played plenty as Syracuse started having long drives. We played a lot of nickel, sometimes with Wilburn and sometimes with Agbor, sometimes with one less DL and sometimes with one less LB. Blidi looked like he was moving fine for the coin toss and the sideline. Man, I hope he is back after the off week for LV.
 
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what's with the all the narratives? Just kidding
 
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On offense, the first half was way, way, way beyond dreadfull. Yes, there was a stupendous run by McCombs in there, and a few nice throws by Johnny Mc, but five turnovers? Five? In a half? A fifth year senior captain committing cheap personal fouls after turnovers not once but twice in a half (yes, you Moe Petrus). I could not believe that they just rolled out McEntee for the second half. And then -- and then == WTF. Where did that half of perfect execution come from? McCummings got bailed out on a ridiculous fumble (the primary receiver was covered downfield, and then JJL was covered on the wheel route, which was the second option, but get rid of the ball). But JM threw the ball well (that was as an effective 8 completion game as you can have), McCummings looked great, McCombs continues to get better and better week by week, and a very solid effort by the OL. And I Moore, when asked to make plays, made them. One catch each by Delahunt and Griffin, but they were both nice plays. Have I learned what the offense might do next week? No. I still fear playing the whole game McCummings will turn it over too much. But we'll see.

The coaches pushed enough of the right buttons, and we won, so credit to them. Still stuff I don't lile. Like running a sweep on 3rd and 1 from the 31 and taking yourself out of FG range at 7-0. Like not giving McCombs a blow after his great run in the 1st Q. Like twice using defensive time outs with over two minutes left, and Syracuse still having half a field to goal. But there job was to help the players win the game, and they did that, so credit to them.
 
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So, a week to rest, and then two home games to get to bowl eligible (which will get us a bowl this year) and keep us in the Big East race. Remarkably. The season has a pulse. This will be a big game against the Cards, and if we get it a bigger game against the Knights. I'm not convinced this team is "good" but my judgment on their play is irrelevant. Accomplishing things by winning games is all that is relevant.

And, to my Syracuse, friends, a quote from the great Monte Python seems most apt here: "RUN AWAY." Do I blame you for taking more cash and stability? Heck no. We would do so with the opportunity, and I still think we will end up joining you fairly shortly. But you leave with us having beaten the crap out of you in the 8 years we've shared this conference. 6-2 overall. 4-0 at the Rent. And 5 straight. So congrats that your conference future is more secure, but please have the decency to leave viewing reality and not an alternative universe: you are walking away from a rivalry where a team with none of your history, and that you think can not be a comparable program, has beaten you pretty solidly. And I'll take wins over BCS access any day.

That's it. Post away.
 
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Agree with last part, in particular. Syracuse is a poor man's Notre Dame . A lot of very old history, but nothing lately. Nothing at all since the late eighties. Saw an awful lot of orange making their way through the parking areas and while they were harmless enough, there was an arrogance about them - "You're down, we're on the upswing and OBTW we're going to a better neighborhood".

It must kill them - and all the old boys from the communications fraternity that holds sway in the broadcast world - that Syracuse is not as good as UConn in either football or hoops. Just not as good as we move forward making new history.
 
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If I'm coach P this is what I'm telling this team:

The slate is wiped clean, we are now in a new, 2 game season. Both games are at home. Win those two games and we play in the conference championship game on December 3. Now lets get to work.
 
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Maybe it's just me but it seems are Defense is at its best when we play with 4 down linemen...especially when Kendall and Twyon (quietly having a great massage season) are playing DT. It seems we give up our biggest plays when we play 3-4.
 

jbdphi

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Like not giving McCombs a blow after his great run in the 1st Q.

This annoyed the heck out of me. Thrilled with the win but what do the coaches have against getting JJL in the game and give McCombs a moment to catch his breath? I like the way JJL runs (hard) and despite his one fumble / missed pitch, I think he is stronger holding the ball than Lyle is.
 
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After 9 games, 4-5 in a very weak league where most of the league could still win it (or have the often 2-3 way tie). Seems we are what the recruiting sources have said - top 60 to 80 team. Surprised at how many turnovers in 1st half, how we really shut down a well designed and run offense in the 1st half. Nice play calling to get several open throws over the middle for JMc, good use of SMc, nice running, and very nice specials re returns.
Look like 8-14 with 2 picks and a fumble is enough for JMc to keep his starting job.
Sio's interception was quite the play and seeing how Syracuse was moving the ball was the game changer.
At this point getting to a bowl will be in play for at least the next two games which is great.
Agree that with 4 linemen seemed like better rush and more disruptive. Syracuse QB really rolls out nice and play fakes very well and their ends around are deceptive; would like our coaches to copy some of that.
We have the hex on Syracuse, hope we break the hex that Rutgers has on us.
 

mets1090

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If I'm coach P this is what I'm telling this team:

The slate is wiped clean, we are now in a new, 2 game season. Both games are at home. Win those two games and we play in the conference championship game on December 3. Now lets get to work.
This basically sums it up. As crazy as it sounds, if they win their 3 remaining games, there are good odds that UConn will win the conference in a tiebreaker.

We have a week off to prepare for the Ville game. Win that game and this all becomes very realistic. No team is remotely unbeatable in this conference and I think our team has the best chance of making big strides in the closing weeks of the season given the nature of our personnel (inexperienced QB hopefully becomes more comfortable, young/undersized HB gets a week off to rest up, defense gets an extra week to continue learning the complex system, etc.). And just as with last year, if it comes down to FG kicking, you gotta like our chances with Teggart. If this team beats Louisville in two weeks, everything could start to materialize for a shot at an improbable conference title.
 
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1. I fully agree about the four down lineman, but I think that is largely personnel and not scheme. We have four very good DL at this point, and are solid there when we come off the bench. When we bring in the nickel, Agbor and Wilburn just aren't that level player. This will help when Blidi comes back in and Brown goes back to being a nickel back (presumably).

2. Tieing the fact that we're not as good a team this year to recruiting rankings is disingenous. Per the services, we are the same team this year (maybe slightly better) than we've been for the lasts 5 or 6. And we're 30 places lower in the Sagarins. So when we're not good, it's because "we are what the rankings say" and we ignore that the same players, and types of players, had 4 straight years way above what the services say. Totally unfair to the players. And disingenous.
 

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On the crowd, my section was lots of fun. For one, Jory Johnson's mom sat in our section. Fun woman. For another, somehow, a bunch of Cuse fans had seats in our section, how they got them there I can't fathom because they are very good 50 yd line seats that presumably had been all sold out to seasons ticket holders. So it was pretty lively. One Cuse fan was loud and somewhat funny in an obnoxious sort of way. A lot of standing up for plays and a lot of noise.

On the game, the combo of QBs worked well, but I'm still not crazy about it. I'd love to see McCummings used to pass 10 times at least so he can get that part of his game some real experience. If all he does is run, sooner or later his athleticism will be nullified. The D played very well, and I totally agree that the 4-3 is much better suited to their personnel. BTY, Mrs. Johnson said she thinks Blidi will be back next week.
 

FfldCntyFan

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The game was frustrating in that we could have put the fruit awauy ten minutes into the game yet we we needed a valiant fourth quarter in order to win.

In my eyes the biggest play of the game was McCombs run (which was nearly a first down but the facemask made it a first down) on second and twenty after McCummings was sacked when /suce read the play action (the first time the opponent picked up Griffin on that play). We got a TD on that drive and easily (with a lesser second down play) could have not scored (which would have been devastating at that point in the game).

The second most important was Sio's interception. Prior to that play it appeared we couldn't stop them in the second half and we would have needed to hope we had enough time and offense left to tie the game once again after giving up a long TD drive.

I'm not sure if Cincy beating Pitt was better for us (but I like that the Bearcats won anyway). Only time will tell if it is (as regardless of what we do, we will need someone else to knock them off before we play them) but the conference is coming back to us. If we beat Louisville, regardless of anything else happening within the conference we will still be able to dream of a BCS bowl game. The only focus shoul dbe on winning that game. Aftwerwards, we focus on Rutgers and hopefully we will still be dreaming.
 
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I think one explanation for the passive crowd yesterday was the power outages in Connecticut. Half of our group was tired and frustrated with the loss of power with some still without power, but at the game, and one getting power Friday night. Seemed like my focus was on the power outage all week and not on the game. I think the game would have sold out if the storm hadn't hit as there was a very good Syracuse turnout.

As for the Syracuse fans, is there a fan base that we are more similar to? I think all of the great basketball games between the schools has brought mutual respect in addition to both fan bases like to enjoy a great tailgate and a beer or two.
 
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On the crowd, my section was lots of fun. For one, Jory Johnson's mom sat in our section. Fun woman. For another, somehow, a bunch of Cuse fans had seats in our section, how they got them there I can't fathom because they are very good 50 yd line seats that presumably had been all sold out to seasons ticket holders. So it was pretty lively. One Cuse fan was loud and somewhat funny in an obnoxious sort of way. A lot of standing up for plays and a lot of noise.

On the game, the combo of QBs worked well, but I'm still not crazy about it. I'd love to see McCummings used to pass 10 times at least so he can get that part of his game some real experience. If all he does is run, sooner or later his athleticism will be nullified. The D played very well, and I totally agree that the 4-3 is much better suited to their personnel. BTY, Mrs. Johnson said she thinks Blidi will be back next week.
are you talking about that Syracuse guy who kept doing the first down thingie whenever they got a first down? Section 224?
 
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Pretty good summation of what we saw.

One thing we didn't see was Nick Williams get a single touch on offense. And once again, Kash Moore ran the end around. He has run it five times this year for a 1.8 yard average. Not to pick on Kash but he has run the end around 16 times in his career for for 54 yards, a 3.3 average. Couldn't we give Nick a carry? I find it hard to believe that it is impossible to get Nick into the offensive game plan. How about a bubble screen to Nick? Anything.
 
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Nick Williams is bigger than McCombs, just as fast as McCombs, broke more tackles yesterday than McCombs has broken all year, would certainly be a better receiver out of the backfield than McCombs and most importantly Nick Williams has an amazing instinct for picking the correct path to run the ball, he sees the football field the way Larry Bird saw the basketball court. Why can't Nick Williams be turned into a running back?

I agree, it is sinful that Williams isn't getting touches in our offense.
 

cohenzone

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"are you talking about that Syracuse guy who kept doing the first down thingie whenever they got a first down? Section 224?"

Yup
 
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Is it just me or is anyone else wondering if nebrich is doing that bad in practice that he is not getting a shot to start the second half after mcentees brutal 1st half. I love what mccummings did but why is pp so hesitant to mix nebrich with mccummings instead of jmac. Maybe once you go with nebrich pp feels you can't go back? Is he scared of two freshmen starting? Mcentee just isn't cutting it out there. I hope nebrich shows pp something in practice the next 2 weeks.
 
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Thanks Biz.

I enjoyed the game immensley and thought the team did a great job of staying focused after what could have really been a tough first half from which to bounce back.

T. Martin was huge and I have to believe Reyes is drawing a lot of attention and he has been the beneficiary. Trevardo has a terrific motor and uses his speed to get to plays that you just would never guess he could get to. McCombs has shocked the heck out of me. I would simply never have imagined that he could hold up under this type of work load and be productive. Very tough kid.

That all said, this coaching staff is really struggling to my eye. I saw all the points in Biz's post. I have no idea why you put a timeout at risk in the second half to challenge the play they did - not to mention it was right in front of our bench. This one should have been put away in the first quarter. When you get good special teams play, turnovers and control both lines of scrimmage - DO NOT MAKE IT COMPLICATED! Get the points. We left anywhere from 9 to 21 points on the field in the first half. Get those points and Nassib has to throw and we set our front four loose. Game, set, match - W. We did not need sweeps, the freeze option or risky throws.

Deleone did a nice job with adjustments in the second half. I hope he knows that Mike Foley has won a hell of a lot of games for this program.
 
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I wonder just how had would J-Mac have to play before Coach P pulled him. I am not complaining about yesterday, my question is more of a general nature. How bad is too bad?
 
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I didn't get a good look at Petrus's first personal foul but the second call and also the late hit out of bounds (on Wilburn) were highly questionable, IMO. Petrus was already in the air when the Cuse defender hit the ground, and Wilburn was actually trying to hold the Cuse guy up on the sideline. Late hit was totally bogus.
 
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Watched the Power Hour and some things were evident.

Coverage was great especially Tymeer Brown. The second to last play of the game was great just great by Brown. They gave away the TE in the flat all day and then Sio just caught it correctly for the INT.

D Line (4) put enough pressure on the QB and stuffed the run. Did not need as much blitzing. Trevardo = awesome sack.

McCombs is improving each week. But, he needs a break occasionally. He missed that screen pass for a big gain also. He and Dobbs are going to be something to watch next year.

Despite the INT's Johnny was accurate. Would have like to see one long ball. Nice job by the TE's especially Griffin on 3rd & 12.

Even if McCummings just chucks the ball OOB occasionally, going forward he will have to keep them honest. He played much better being in the game more. Better flow when you leave him in a couple of plays.

Specials greatly improved

Coaches found the right mix of McCummings & Johnny, Blitz & Non Blitz.

Crowd into it at least in Section 229.

Where is Marcus Campbell. I looked for 26 all day. Not even dressed??

I was hoping for Nebrich in the 2nd half, but I hand it to Coach P. He got it done. It's got to be frustrating for the kid, but he is the future and he is one play away from being the starter I think.
 
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Rich you have goofed me up. I was all set to type that I finally realized why Taylor Mack was not seeing much
PT and that was because of number 40 (Ty Mer Brown) can play. He really caught my eye. I thought DBs were DG, Jones, Brown and Junior, with occasional Agbar.

I feel great after this win. Coach P use the by week to school McCummings. He needs to be on the field 75% of the time for us to win. J Mac might hit a nice 15 yd pass to a tight end, or equally fumble the ball by getting sacked or throw an easy pic.
 
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