Syracuse - Notre Dame Preview

This Saturday, Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson is willing to throw out all of the statistics in pursuit of his team's second win. Never mind that the Orange (1-8, 0-6 Big East) is the worst offense in the Big East, or that their rushing defense allows a conference low 190 yards per contest. Never mind that Syracuse's opponent, Notre Dame (7-2), is the sixth ranked team in the country with an explosive offense that scores 39 points a game, good for seventh in the nation.

For Robinson, this Saturday's 2:30 match up in South Bend, Ind. is business as usual.


"It's about winning the game," Robinson said. "I think getting there and taking it all in initially will be interesting. From the time pregame warm-ups begin, it's about football."


One thing the Orange has going on Saturday is its solid pass defense, which will be forced to contain Irish quarterback Brady Quinn and his explosive pass attack. Quinn and the Irish receivers Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall, both juniors, have torched defenses for close to 339 yards a game this season.


The Orange secondary, led by the nation's interception leader, safety Anthony Smith, will have to effectively shut down the Irish passing game in order for SU to come away with a victory. If the defense can hold, then the lackluster Orange offense, averaging a Big East worst 13.9 points per contest, may be able to put together some scoring opportunities against an Irish defense that ranks 40th nationally in points allowed.


Robinson, in his first year at Syracuse, will face off against another rookie coach, Charlie Weis. Weis, who spent six years under Bill Parcells as an assistant coach with both the Giants and Jets, and also won three Super Bowls as an assistant to Bill Belichick's New England Patriots. Now he is trying to lead the Irish to a BCS bowl game win.


"Charlie is a good football coach," Robinson said. "He's been mentored well and he's a good football coach. He's bright and he understands the passing game extremely well, and then working with Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, he has a much greater appreciation for the running game. Charlie is a very, very good football coach, and a good person, too."


Robinson said that he grew up watching Notre Dame and that his whole family was Irish fans, especially his father. Despite his upbringing, Robinson said that he no longer is a Notre Dame fan.


While Saturday's game-time atmosphere will likely be as exciting as any the Orange has had this year, Robinson said he is focusing on getting his team ready to play and not to admire the opposition.


"Friday, we're not going to the stadium," Robinson said. "We're getting there early enough so that the kids can get out there and get a feel. I like it when the crowd is just starting to work into the stadium and they're out there working out on their own before pregame warm-ups. They'll be able to do that to get all that out, but to take it all in and do all this, this is not a history class."

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