After enrolling at Syracuse University in January of 2011, offensive tackle Lou Alexander became a member of the Orange football program. However, he has never played a down in a game while at Syracuse due to injury. In total, Alexander has not lined up in an actual game in two years.
Now, health and a job vacancy have given Alexander the opportunity to show why the Orange brought him in a year ago. He will be starting in Syracuse's season- and home-opener on Saturday, September 1st, at noon eastern against Northwestern at the Carrier Dome.
Alexander has been a work in progress through Fall camp, taking lessons from head coach Doug Marrone about technique. He commented on the status of his technique going into the first game of the season.
"I feel great. You can never be excellent. You never can be perfect," said Alexander, "so I just wanna perfect everything I do, as far as my craft, as far as my hands, as far as my eyes, as far as my feet. Everything that I can do, I can just, you know, perfect it to the best of my ability.
"So, working on it is a real good thing cause those [are] things that you don't wanna forget. That's just like riding a bike."
How is Alexander doing riding that bike?
"I feel very comfortable. I prepare everyday hard," shared Alexander. "If I would've said I'm nervous, then that'd mean I didn't put in the work throughout the week, so, right now, I feel very comfortable where I'm at. I feel like we got a good game plan going in and I'm very excited."
The right side of the line has been a bigger question mark going into this first game because of how well Sean Hickey has performed filling in at left tackle in the absence of Justin Pugh. Both the right guard and right tackle positions, after the graduation of Andrew Tiller and Michael Hay, respectively, have been watched closely leading into Northwestern.
Hickey has been asked to anchor the opposite side of the line, showcasing two fresh faces as current 2012 starters. Alexander gave his impression of the work both Hickey and he have put in.
"I feel very comfortable with what Hickey has brought to the table as far as what he's doing over the camp," said Alexander. "…I feel like we prepared the best of our abilities, so I feel like me and Hickey as far as what we're doing right now I feel like we're very prepared."
We're just anxious," continued Alexander. "We're just anxious, and we haven't been out there, and we're just anxious to get out there and just maximize our abilities on the football field and just see what we can do, further."
He has focused on the fact that Chibane and MacPherson have "…actually been on the football field, so they have experience as far as knowing things that they should do on the football field and things to expect, so what I do is I lean toward them to ask them things that I should expect and things that I should go toward.
"Whatever happens after that, it happens. And I just go out there 100% every time."
From the experience of Chibane and MacPherson to the inexperience of right guards Ivan Foy and Rob Trudo in actual game reps, Alexander shifted his eyes to the right side of the line to lock in on Foy and Trudo.
"[I] feel comfortable whoever lines up next to me; I feel like that person is ready," said Alexander. "[Head] Coach [Doug] Marrone and [Offensive Line] Coach [Greg] Adkins, they do a very good job of putting guys out there that are very ready. Ready to go out there in war. Ready to go out there and play."
Alexander shared his sentiments toward the notion that the right side of the line may be the weaker side of the line going into this season.
"We have a lot of work that we have ahead of us, us being the newcomers," expressed Alexander. "…We're new faces on the offensive line, so people haven't really seen our abilities on a mainstream level and now they're about to see our abilities on a mainstream level, and now it's just for us to prove a point and just show people that we're out here and we're prepared and we're ready to go at a full 100% and that's all it is."
Marrone, during his pre-game press conference shared his own interpretation of how Alexander, Foy, and Trudo have been performing, so far, on the right side of the line.
"Well, I think they've gotten better with some skills," offered Marrone. "With the consistency level, I don't feel very comfortable with that right now…I think those players, at times, have shown consistency, at times have been inconsistent. So, it's not something that I'm going into this game saying, ‘Oh, I feel great about it.'
"Those players have a great challenge ahead of them, and that challenge is to be more consistent than they've been over these past couple of weeks."
No matter what is expected or not expected of him, Alexander will finally be on the field to show what he is made of.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," said Alexander. "I'm maximizing the opportunity that I have in front of me."