2004 Syracuse Orange Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Paul Pasqualoni (101-53-1) <br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 6-6 (6th place in Big East) <br><br> <b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2001 Insight.com Bowl (26-3 win over <A HREF=http://kansasstate.TheInsiders.com>Kansas State</A>) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 5 @<A HREF=http://purdue.TheInsiders.com>Purdue</A> 1:30 ABC, Oct. 11 Rutgers, Nov. 6 Pitt.

Star Power: TB Walter Reyes 5-10 209 senior, WR Steve Gregory 5-11 186 junior, TB Damien Rhodes 6-1 210 junior, K Collin Barber 6-1 216 senior, P Brendan Carney 6-5 201 sophomore.

Notable Additions: QB Joe Fields 6-0 213 Washington High School (TX), S AJ Brown 6-0 197 Liberty High School (VA), LB Jamar Atkinson 6-3 220 transfer.

Notable Subtractions: WR Johnnie Morant, drafted by Raiders, LB Rich Scanlon, signed with Chiefs, QB RJ Anderson, DE Josh Thomas, signed with Colts, FB Thump Belton, signed with Lions.

Notable Returnees: LB Kellen Pruitt 6-3 225 junior, DE Julian Pollard 6-4 258 senior, C Matt Tarullo 6-5 332 senior.

10/09/04Florida State
10/20/04@West Virginia
11/27/04@Boston College
Offensive Overview: The Orange have one of the nation's best rushing attacks and a veteran offensive line that is more than capable of eating clock and energy from opposing defenses. Without question, this is the Orangemen's biggest asset and greatest strength. Tailback Walter Reyes, who will be in the running for the Heisman Trophy, could become Syracuse's all-time leading rusher. But for all the talk about the running game, the Orange is iffy at quarterback. Starter RJ Anderson is gone and there are three main candidates for the job - sophomore Perry Patterson, junior Xzavier Gaines and true freshman Joe Fields. None has thrown a pass at the college level. The Orange will also be thin at the receiver spots as only Jared Jones returns. Syracuse was so thin at receiver that it decided to move two-year starting cornerback Steve Gregory to receiver. As for the offensive line, seniors Matt Tarullo and Adam Terry and junior Steve Franklin are returning starters, while Quinn Ojinnaka and Jason Greene have joined the starting unit.

Defensive Overview: Two years ago, Syracuse's defense finished last, or next to it, in every statistical category in Division I football. Two years later, the defense figures to be a strength. Steve Dunlap takes over as defensive coordinator and will have to work in a new starting line and new cornerbacks. Tony Jenkins, Kader Drame and Julian Pollard will start on the defensive line. They have big shoes to fill after the graduations of Louis Gachelin, Christian Ferrara and Josh Thomas. Speaking of big shoes, the middle linebacker spot now belongs to Jerry Mackey, the great nephew of Syracuse legend John Mackey. He joins returning starters Kelvin Smith and Kellen Pruitt. The Orange swapped two-year starting cornerback Steve Gregory for receiver Marcus Clayton in spring ball. Clayton will step in right away as a starter at cornerback. He's quick and athletic and joins safeties Diamond Ferri and Anthony Smith in the secondary. Kicker Collin Barber and punter Brendan Carney are back after both earned second-team All-Big East honors last year. Carney has a powerful leg and can boom punts, but needs to work on his kicking time - last year, he had five punts blocked.

For Orange fans that love to dream,... Syracuse has an outside chance of winning the Big East. Swing games include Rutgers, Connecticut and Pittsburgh. If Syracuse is able to take these games while conceding a loss at West Virginia, then the Orange's final game against Boston College will decide who wins the Big East. This will hinge on whether Syracuse's defense is as good as advertised, and whether Syracuse can form a functional passing game.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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