Both the University of Southern California and Syracuse University previewed their upcoming match-up in New York's College Classic on Saturday, Septemebr 8th, at 3:30pm Eastern at MetLife Stadium.
After opening the season 0-1 with a non-conference loss to Northwestern, SU Head Coach Doug Marrone referred to the defeat in saying, "…we were unhappy, disappointed, [but] didn't want to be discouraged." Despite a loss, Marrone does not seem to be waving any type of white flag for the Orange, whether or not they are considered the underdog for the upcoming game.
When asked about his quarterback, Ryan Nassib, Marrone shared that he was "very impressed" with how Nassib performed in the first game and that the redshirt-senior worked "…hard to put himself in this position." Nassib finished the game with 45 completions on 66 attempts for 482 yards through the air. Each of those three numbers are all Syracuse University football single-game records.
Nassib added that there was "no shock of performance" by the offense from his perspective. He said that games cannot be imitated in practice and though the offense, to him, "can still improve in some areas", he is "happy to see how some showed up."
As far as how he feels coming off of a record game, "I feel about the same as I did going into last week's game."
"I couldn't ask for a better leader," said Marrone of Nassib.
A leader who exhibits the characteristic of humility and remains focused on the team's next target, instead of wrapped up in his individual achievement.
Expanding from Nassib to the team as a whole, Marrone expressed that when it comes to leadership, "others are stepping up." Marrone expanded on that point in saying, "[I'm] better than I have ever felt with the character on this team."
Shifting to Saturday's match-up with the Trojans, Marrone stated that the Orange is focused on containment, sharing that USC is "…gonna make some plays," but that that his emphasis is that the Trojans do "…not make enough to take [Syracuse] out of the game."
Marrone believes that the Trojans are "well balanced", able to "beat you with both areas (referring to offense and defense)". The Orange head coach said that you have to "pick your poison" when facing USC. "If you decide to defend one thing, they'll beat you with the other," added Marrone.
What do the players think of when USC is brought up? "Speed," said Nassib, while Orange linebacker Marquis Spruill referred to the Trojans as "playmakers".
As far as playing away from the Carrier Dome at MetLife Stadium, Nassib stated that "…playing in the east in a field we're more familiar with is a little less intimidating," as opposed to when Syracuse traveled across country last season to face the Trojans on the road.
Spruill is back in a familiar spot in two ways. He is back at outside linebacker where he played as a freshman and this week, he will be back near his hometown of Hillside, New Jersey, which is about a half hour away from MetLife Stadium. He said that he is "…still getting calls" from "everyone asking to get tickets".
On the other hand, some have been upset that the team is not staying close, where tickets can be bought to the Carrier Dome without any extra travel expenses.
However, Marrone believes that in the crowd with Spruill's loved ones will be "a lot of parents, a lot of families, a lot of friends," including Syracuse University alumni, who have a significant base in the tri-state area. Also in the crowd may be potential recruits.
Dr. Gross echoed Marrone's statement about this game being more than just simply what happens on the field. Recruiting is a continuous process and the Orange have been no stranger to talent in the tri-state area.
For those who decide to make the trip from central New York to MetLife Stadium, Marrone spoke of creating a mini vacation out of their travel, as opposed to simply going to the game.
USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin joined Marrone in the notion of making a weekend out of the game, with his student-athletes and their loved ones having to come a lot further in order to participate and watch Saturday's contest.
Kiffin expressed his thoughts on the Orange, saying that the "quarterback's (referring to Nassib) playing great" and that Syracuse "beat Northwestern in every category, except special teams and turnovers".
The USC Head Coach's opinion of quarterbacks is not something to overlook. He is coaching one of the most nationally recognized talents in the college game in Matt Barkley. Kiffin referred to Barkley's decision to return to the Trojans as an "exciting Christmas time for USC fans". "It says a lot about who he is," Kiffin continued. "Almost everybody goes for the money and fame."
Barkley, according to Kiffin, came back in order to "finish what he started and do something better". Kiffin referred to the fact that USC was "coming off of seven straight BCS bowl games" before their penalty was enacted.
Barkley has witnessed change at the head coach, athletic director, and presidential positions during his career at USC. But, bowl eligibility is not something the coaches or players of USC are thinking about, according to Kiffin.
What they are thinking about, including Barkley, is the upcoming game against Syracuse. Barkley stated that the Orange linebacker core "play really fast downhill". "They remind me of our own when they come downhill," said Barkley, focusing on his belief that the linebackers have "great speed".
Spruill echoed those sentiments when he referred to the linebacker core as a group that hustles and runs to the ball.
Syracuse is looking for their first victory, while USC is looking to keep a goose egg in their loss column. East coast meets West Coast in just a few days for round two of Syracuse versus USC.