Syracuse needs work on special teams, coach says

Before Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni could look toward Saturday's meeting with Connecticut, Pasqualoni addressed the failures of his special teams unit in the 27-6 loss to #15/14 West Virginia Thursday night.

First, Pasqualoni responded to Marcus Clayton's botched fair catch play.

"Marcus Clayton is a pretty experienced punt returner; as a matter of fact he had a big return against West Virginia last year," Pasqualoni said. "He was just trying to catch the ball to save yardage. The only thing I said to Marcus is that under that much duress you have to make sure you give a big fair catch signal, and get yourself under the ball."

"You have to make sure you are square and that the ball comes down in front of you and not to the side. He has made those catches, but he was running and there was traffic there. That was just kind of a mess."

Pasqualoni also talked about the struggles the special teams have had on field goals.

"On the one blocked field goal, there was flat-out penetration and you can't have that," Pasqualoni said. "Collin Barber just has to make those kicks. I thought he approached them well and the first one he just missed, it was very close."

"Collin just needs to have a great week and we will evaluate him. Kickers have to have the ability to shake it off and come back. He has to practice and prepare well. That is how you become a confident player, regardless of the position you play."

Pasqualoni managed to briefly complement his quarterback Perry Patterson and say that "the bright spots were that Diamond Ferri and the kick off return team did a heck of a job. And I thought Brendan Carney kicked off and punted very well."

Still, Pasqualoni happily moved on to next week's match up with Connecticut.

On UConn playing in the Big East Conference for the first year and their successful 5-2 record, Pasqualoni said:

"The way this has worked out, they have a very experienced team. Dan Orlovsky is an outstanding quarterback. He made a great decision to go to the University of Connecticut. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach have done an outstanding job with him in fitting him into the offensive package. He has played a great deal of football. Four out of five of the offensive linemen are seniors. They have a nice core of older wide receivers. Keron Henry, who was in our camp as a quarterback, became a very athletic wide receiver. Their chemistry is very good and the timing for them to come in is excellent because they have a good team."

Pasqualoni also played up the potential for a rivalry, especially between the head coaches:

"Randy (Edsall) and I worked together here, and I thought we worked very hard together. We had four great years here under Coach Mac. We were fortunate to be here at a time when we won a lot of games, and flat-out had a lot of fun. I think it is a pretty good relationship."

Pasqualoni also didn't shy away from the added incentive questions:

"Sure, this is his alma mater; this is where he played and where he graduated from. I know the first time we played Penn State in 1987 when they came here; I was kind of excited to line up against Penn State. And then when we beat them the way we did, it was really great."

This and That

Pasqualoni said Walter Reyes is feeling better after flu-like symptoms ... DeAndre LaCaille will be limited early in the week but the team is hopeful he will be available against UConn.

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