The Sweet Taste of Orange

"You know, we're 2-1, we're going to keep going, keep preparing and hopefully (go to) a bowl game this year. See you there," stated Brian Leonard after the Scarlet Knight's 31-9 thumping of Syracuse.

It was a day's of first time evers and for the first time since ... for Rutgers University. They filled the stat sheet, filled the post-game write-ups and helped giftwrap an otherwise ordinary offensive performance into a game filled with Defensive and Special Teams highligh clips.

For the longest time it has taken the perfect game, the nearly flawless execution to help put this team in a position to win. No longer.

There is talent on this team. And there is the will to win.

The Syracuse faithful are learning just how much. Even with a Fr. QB starting his first collegiate game and making his share of mistakes, it was Rutgers that did much of the squeezing Saturday afternoon.

Even with an offense that, though they showed glimpses, never hit full-throttle -- and hasn't yet this season -- the Orange could barely hang with Rutgers.

That is how far this program has come.

A mediocre offensive performace, a running game that was somewhat effective, but certainly not stellar were pulled along by the engine that now drives the train.

The Defense? Yes, the Defense.

And to some extent, the Special teams.

Who would have thought, even as little as one year ago, with dreams of Big Nate stuffing the run, with Carl Howard having made headlines that it was on the Banks that he wished to spend his collegiate career, that it would be the vertically-challenged Ramel Meekins that would be the interior stalwart of a now dominating front four. A front four that continues to improve on a week by week basis.

The rest of the league is now finding out, on a week by week basis.

"I'm not happy, if that tells you anything," stated Syracuse Head Coach Greg Robinson. "Am I pleased? No. Are we functioning? No. It's everything. It's handling the football. It's dropping passes. It's players. It's coaches. It's everything."

The thought that Rutgers is still Rutgers, and Syracuse is still Syracuse, is precisely why many find yesterday's outcome so difficult to believe. It's going to take more than just a single road victory to continue to change the mindset. Indeed, reality is all about perception.

After all, this was only Schiano's second career Big East road victory. In a season of firsts and not since ... it will take a bit more to alter a several decade-long perception of futility.

But these Scarlet Knights are on the right track, and slowly but surely, the rest of the league is taking notice.

It was Syracuse's turn this week.

"After the game, a bunch of their players came up to me," stated Sr. OL Sameeh McDonald, "and said 'you guys are tough now. Keep it up.'"

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