Syracuse Spring Game Report

With the temperature in the mid-80's outside, the Orange football team was on display in the Dome, giving the fans their first, albeit brief, look at the team.

Attendance for the game was not good. I would estimate about 2000 showed. It was a beautiful day in Syracuse, sunny and about 80 degrees, without a cloud in the sky. That didn't help.

Longtime Syracuse radio personalities Gomez and Dave were the ‘coaches' for the scrimmage. Someone gave them each a microphone and they unfortunately spent much of the event talking about inane things. They had no knowledge of the football team and were an unwanted distraction.

Someone decided it would be a good idea to play songs over the PA system during most of the scrimmage too. This made for a bizarre environment and was received badly by everyone I talked to that attended the event. Amateurs continue to run things at the Dome and continue to detract from the fan experience with their bad judgment. It would be nice if someone with a professional background and experience would be hired to right this badly listing ship.

On the positive side, Gomez and Dave did not speak in rhymes the entire game. Kudos to them for that.

The people who tried to put on this event had a couple of new promotions. One gave a person selected randomly from the audience a chance to kick a 40 yard field goal to win 99K (I think that was the number). Didn't really matter…..I think the only person in the Dome with a chance to make a field goal that long was Shadle, and he was not eligible to participate. A very large man weighing over 300 pounds was selected. I believe his name was Mike Platt, from Snittsville. He kicked a low snap hook that barely made it to the 15 yard line. Not really exciting. If you are going to do a promotion, at least give the person chosen a decent chance to be successful.

The other promotion was done twice. A person was given a helmet and positioned on the 40 yard line. Rob Long kicked them a punt from 55 yards or so away. They would get $99 for each punt they caught. The first guy missed his first two chances but the third get caught in his gut for an unlikely catch. It was funny to see the guy stumbling around trying to make the catch. They did it again later….this time the guy fell down, tackled by the turf monster on his first try, then had a ball bounce off his upper chest and ricochet about 20 yards away, then muffed the third. Again, pretty funny, so I give them credit….this was mildly amusing and unfortunately, it was probably the highlight of this bomb of an event.

On to the scrimmage. They started with a series of drills, then went into a brief scrimmage that lasted about 30 minutes. The whole event took 1 hours and 19 minutes. They ran 37 plays. That was it. This was easily the shortest and least interesting Syracuse spring game I have attended (and I believe I have seen everyone since 1980). It was an insult to the fan base and everyone involved in the planning should be ashamed.

Not blaming the players….they tried and did the best they could. When 1000 come to the spring game next year, no one at SU should be surprised. You reap what you sow.

The first set of drills featured a linebacker trying to beat a RB/TE one on one. In general, I would say Dough Hogue was the best blocker of the players on offense, and Chad Battles was the best rusher on defense. Parker Cantey also did a good job on defense, and Darnell Pratt really struggled to block anyone effectively. Pratt is listed at 222 pounds. He has made no progress building himself up since high school. He is a good athlete….I am disappointed he has done such a poor job in the weight program.

Next were a set of 7 on 7 drills. ARob looked sharp early, throwing a strike to Sheeran, who dropped the pass, and hitting Chew, who again showed the best fundamentals on the team catching the ball. Legree made a couple of early bad throws. Catalina threw short passes well but struggled some with the mid and long throws. Doesn't have a really strong arm and tends to float long throws. Cody did throw a nice long pass on a streak route to Williams, who made a nice one handed catch for a big gain. This was one of the highlights of the practice.

Dantley made a number of good throws. He gets rid of the ball very quickly, with a flick of the wrist. Catalina had a decent throw to Provo who was not able to hold on to the ball. Did hit Malo with a good pass on a swing route.

Legree had a nice throw on a down and out to Barker. He again displayed a strong arm but he has a slow release and throws the ball from the side, a little below ¾, not unlike Colt Brennan. Gilbeaux knocked down a pass. Cody ran an option right for a gain of about 10. Good quickness. They ran a couple of rollouts when Cody was in too….looks like they try to leverage his ability to run when he is in.

Dantley had a nice pass to Sheeran, who made a solid catch.

The SUMB was in attendance. Okay, maybe half the SUMB was in attendance. The good news was that there were 5 tubas in the house. Maybe, just maybe we can field double figure tubas in 2008. Hope so. They rarely had a chance to play, as someone was playing bad songs on the PA system almost all the time. So they played over the music. And Gomez and Dave talked over the music and the band. Very professional and fan friendly. Sigh.

The scrimmage finally started. We were told that the rules only allowed the offense to run 6 plays in a series. Why? No idea.

For the record, the starters on the north (first team) offense were:

Note: Missed a starter

In many cases, the TE lined up as a FB. And in many cases, a second TE was in….with one lined up as the FB and one as a TE. Malo got a lot of throws his way and caught them all. Up to 237 pounds. Reminds me a lot of Jawad Nesheiwat. Good not great size, good hands, runs well. Owen was listed at 251 pounds. Really didn't get much thrown his way. I think they are going to use Fiammetta at TE a lot too….those three are going to get a lot of PT, with Provo maybe getting a little time in passing situations.

The starters on the north (first team) defense were:

CB-N Scott
SS-AJ Brown
FS-B. Williams

Note that Arthur Jones was sick and did not dress in pads. He and Gilbeaux have apparently been eating the food the OL has been forbidden to eat due to the Browning 305 rule. Santiago isn't ready to do a SlimFast commercial but he has lost a lot of weight and looks much quicker and agile. Tribbey looks in excellent shape. Made a number of plays despite playing banged up. Elon Mitchell did not wear pads. I still haven't seen him play a single play even in a scrimmage. Wonder if I ever will.

Kevyn Scott actually played more with the north unit at strong safety than Brown did. McKinnon get a few snaps with the north unit too but Scott is playing the most of the three right now. Scott had a couple of big hits and looks to be the fastest and hardest hitter of the three. I think the job here is his to lose.

Bruce Williams played most of the time with the north unit at free safety than Suter did, and it looks like he is pretty far ahead of Max right now. He didn't make many plays, not did Max.

It appears Vince Giruzzi has the spinner position, at least for now. Doing a solid job here. Up to 241 pounds….still looks in excellent shape.

Didn't see Derrell Smith even play. Battles had very limited playing time. Stenclick had a couple nice plays but is playing exclusively with the south unit at the MIKE position. Looks like the starters at LB are going to be Cantey, Flaherty and Mele.

Merk is getting a lot of work with the north unit at CB. He and Nico Scott are in the battle for the CB position opposite Holmes. Scott is a big hitter for his size, and support the run surprisingly well but he is 5'9 and 180 pounds tops and he has a hard time staying with a big WR. Merk probably isn't quite as good supporting the run and he also needs to get stronger but his size (6'1) allows his to cover big WRs much more effectively than Nico. My best guess right now is that Merk will win the job as the starter at CB but Nico will be the nickel and get close to starter minutes there (a lot of our opponents play 3 and 4 WR sets almost all the time).

Hogue had a couple of 5 yard runs, Tribbey knocked down a pass, Sheeran had a nice catch on a down and out, just getting his feet in bounds while catching a pass thrown a bit too high. He made a similar play later. Looked good.. Long pass to Williams in end zone went incomplete….Mike jumped too early. Nico Scott with decent coverage. The south units then came out.

South (second team) offense:


The second team OL did not do well. Rosner looks like the best of the bunch right now.

South (second team) defense:

SS-K Scott

Again, didn't see Derrell Smith out there. I suspect he was banged up and was not available to play. Pena is a walk on who is only playing because we have some DTs who are injured.

Bailey ran for 12 left.
Short pass to Cervino, who was obliterated by Howard in a collusion of two undersized players.
Cody looked indecisive, could not find anyone open and scrambled right for a gain of 3.
Bad pass from Cody to Malo (overthrown) in right flat.

Max Leo did all the long snapping to Long on the punt promotions. Had a couple of shaky efforts early but was solid afterwards. I think he is going to be the guy here. Surprised he is in front of Zaske.

North offense vs. south defense

Santiago tackles Hogue for a loss of 1. Good effort by Nick.
Dantley, under heavy pressure, throws a laser to Williams on a streak route for a 50 yard TD. Reid, looking extremely skinny and showing no signs of ever being in a weight room, is beaten badly. As is AJ Brown.
Dantley 22 yard pass to left flat to Lobdell, Reid again beaten badly.
Hogue 3 yard gain. Nice tackle by Reid.
Dantley sacked for 7 yard loss.
Dantley screen pass to Davis is overthrown. Donte not able to make the catch. Cantey nails him anyway.
South offense vs. south defense again:

Bailey 3 yard run. Not much in the way of holes being opened. Bailey looks tentative and small.
Legree pass to right flat to Westhafer for gain of 11.
Bailey tackled at LOS for no gain. Stenclik and Marinovitch on tackle.
Legree throws the ball to the right sideline to Sheeran, who makes a great catch on a high throw and stays in bounds with a nice foot drag. Gain of 25.
Legree scramble for gain of 3. He can make people miss.
Legree screen to Bailey overthrown. Incomplete.

North offense vs. north defense

Robinson didn't play much. The staff appeared to be determined to ensure he would not be hurt.
Hogue gain of 12. Chiara tackle.
Catalina bad toss to Hogue. He gets the deflection and takes a 10 yard loss.
Giruzzi sacks Catalina.
Cody swing pass to Williams underthrown and incomplete.
Hogue runs left for gain of 2. Again, no hole to run though. Tribbey and Flaherty dominate the middle.
Hogue 5 yard gain. Kevyn Scott with the hardest hit of the day. Hogue gain of 1. Tackle by Perkins.

South offense vs. south defense

Legree has no one open. Buys some time with his athleticism. Finds Chew on right sideline for a 19 yard gain. Strong throw.
Dan Collier, a walk on from Auburn, gains 10 up the middle. Great block by Adam Rosner.
Bailey up the middle for a gain of 3.
Bailey loses a yard. Stenclik again with penetration into the backfield.
Legree finds Provo in end zone for a 4 yard TD. Legree looked very solid during this series.

Scrimmage done. 3:19 PM.

Miscellaneous notes:

Heard Brandon Card, listed as a junior on the roster, is one of the fastest players on the team. He is a transfer from Hobart and was considered one of the best prospects in Section 3 a couple of years ago. 6'1 240 pounds. Did not play in the scrimmage.

No kickoffs. Would have liked to have seen if there is hope for improvement in the fall.

No live punt drills. That was a bummer.

No live FG drills. Another bummer. Shadle did kick a couple of PATs. Displayed a strong and accurate leg.

It is always hard to make informed judgments based in intrasquad scrimmages. The offense really struggled to move the ball today. Part of the problem was the reluctance of the staff to give ARob much playing time. I don't blame them for that.

No question the offensive line unit has lost a lot of weight since last fall. While small in numbers, they now at least look like a D1 OL.

Brinkley and Carter ran the ball in some thud drills, where they could not be tackled. Brinkley limped less than last week but didn't show the second gear a top D1 RB should have. Carter looked very much like he did before he was hurt. The plan is for him to return to full contact in the fall. Maybe he is going to do the near impossible and make a full recovery. It would be a great story and no one deserves it more than him. Hope it happens.

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