HACK ATTACK: Don't get your hopes up

Maybe this will be the year. <br><br> After watching the Orangemen battle "awfully, awfully hard," (said Coach Paul Pasqualoni), Syracuse shut the North Carolina offense down in the fourth quarter and put 17 unanswered points up for a 49-47 3OT win.

Johnnie Morant looked like the prospect he was supposed to be when he came in four years ago. RJ Anderson threw and ran like an All-American with aspirations to go to the NFL. The same goes for Walter Reyes, who cut, bobbed and weaved his way to a career day.

A healthy 49 points later and the Orangemen are 1-0.

Said Louis Gachelin: "You can't win every game until you win the first."

And Gachelin is correct. The Orangemen are poised to start the season in grand fashion. Three of their next games are winnable against Louisville (who are a mirror image of the Orangemen), Central Florida and Toledo.

While no one would be surprised if Syracuse fell to any of these three teams, it isn't a far stretch of the imagination that the Orangemen could start 4-0.

But let's not get carried away here.

It wasn't like Syracuse crushed Miami or edged Virginia Tech. The Orangemen merely squeaked by a mid-level team that went 3-9 last year.

Though North Carolina possesses some excellent weapons (Darian Durant – who will be an outstanding quarterback), North Carolina isn't a true barometer to where the Orangemen are. In fact, the Orangemen won't get tested for another month.

On Oct. 11, Syracuse will head down south to take on bitter-rival Virginia Tech, who Syracuse has upset in the past two years. At that point, they could legitimately be 4-0 – but no one will take Syracuse seriously unless the Orangemen walk out of Virginia with a win.

Syracuse is still far off from hoping to beat the Hokies.

Even with all of the positives that came out of Saturday's win, there is still a huge gaping hole in the defense. The secondary looked shaky at times, as the Orangemen committed three penalties during one drive, keeping North Carolina in the driver seat until midway through the third quarter.

The defense was a huge problem last year, and early on, will be the problem this year. Back in August, senior linebacker Rich Scanlon described the defense as "better."

Really? No kidding. He could've fooled me.

It seems like the offense will have to bail out the defense – and even with Anderson, Morant and Reyes operating on full tilt, Syracuse won't be able to keep up with Miami, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Notre Dame.

The defense will be the key to the Orangemen going bowling this year. The offense can run with anyone. Tighten up the defense, and Buzz Shaw's prediction of 8-4 might actually come true.

If the defense remains shoddy, the Orangemen might be looking at the number eight and four, just in the reverse order.

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