Big East Schedule Preview: Syracuse

After an extremely painful four years for Syracuse, the theme of the 2009 team is simple – change. After sacking Greg Robinson as head coach at the end of last season, the Orange hired Doug Marrone to help return the program to the days of Dick MacPherson and Paul Pasqualoni with players like Donovan McNabb, Dwight Freeney and Marvin Harrison.

Marrone has his work cut out for him this season as SU returns a hodgepodge of players from last year's 3-9 team with just one Big East win.

The biggest name returning for ‘Cuse is quarterback Cameron Dantley who has his work cut out for him just to keep his job after throwing for just 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. All players can expect their jobs to come under some fire when a new coach takes over, but Dandley's fire is more like an inferno with the addition of a certain transfer from the Duke Blue Devils.

Greg Paulus, after four solid years as a point guard for perennial ACC powerhouse Duke, decided to test the waters in football after realizing that the NBA was out of grasp. After workouts with the Green Bay Packers and the Michigan Wolverines, Paulus inked a transfer to Syracuse, N.Y., the city where he excelled on the gridiron in high school.

Paulus may be five years out of football, but he has the right skill-set to be a solid college quarterback. At 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, he isn't too small. He clearly has good field vision (who wouldn't after four years running point for Coach K?) and has the quickness to be a good scrambler when needed. He did it well in high school, shattering numerous New York state high school passing records, and the only question is whether it will translate to the Carrier Dome.

The two primary losses for the Orange come in the backfield. Running back Curtis Brinkley, who led the team with 1,164 yards and seven touchdowns last season, was in the news recently after being shot in Philadelphia. Brinkley is now in stable condition after the accident and is on the San Diego Chargers' roster as an undrafted free agent. ‘Cuse is also without starting fullback Tony Fiammetta who was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.

The Scarlet Knights get their first crack at the new Orange head coach Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Carrier Dome. Rutgers has fallen behind 14-0 against Syracuse twice in the last two years, but won both games. The Knights won last season behind 143 rushing yards from Kordell Young and won two years ago behind 196 yards and three touchdowns from Ray Rice.

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