Scouting Report - Syracuse

Syracuse almost ruined its season opener because of turnovers. The Orange could have had an even more lopsided result than the 29-3 decision at Akron, but it gave the Zips great field position three times after turnovers. The Zips took over at the Syracuse 18 after Ryan Nassib's fumble, and at the Syracuse 48 after recovering an Atwon Bailey fumble, and at their 42 following a Nassib interception.

Akron was still within reach at the time of those turnovers, but the Syracuse defense stepped up in a big way. After those turnovers, the Orange allowed only a field goal. The Zips actually went backwards for 3 yards on a total of nine plays following those turnovers.

The Orange eventually got a more comfortable advantage after cornerback Mike Holmes raced 57 yards for a touchdown after a blocked field goal try late in the third quarter. The sudden-change stops were the defensive highlights for Syracuse, which allowed only 55 rushing yards and 166 yards of total offense, 2.8 yards per play.

The Orange was stingy against the run last season, too, ranking No. 13 in the nation at 101.8 yards per game, but the defense often was burned by the pass. That wasn't the case against Akron, in its first game with head coach Rob Ianello.

Akron quarterback Patrick Nicely was only 12-for-35 for 111 yards. Syracuse did not allow a completion of more than 20 yards until the final minutes.
--Coach Doug Marrone said an emotional talk from Hall of Famer Floyd Little helped get his team ready for the season opener. Little, a Syracuse All-America running back in the mid-1960s, went on to a stellar professional career with the Denver Broncos. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio, in August.

--Syracuse's defense, which yielded 24 touchdown passes in 2009 (at least one every game), did not give up a TD pass against the Zips. Akron quarterback Patrick Nicely went 12-for-35 for 111 yards as his team lost the season opener 29-3.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Ryan Nassib -- He had two fumbles (losing one) and an interception in his first start, but the sophomore acquitted himself well. Nassib went 17-for-27 for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DT Chandler Jones -- He wasn't a stat stuffer against Akron (two tackles) but his presence was clearly felt all night on defense, and he even blocked a kick. On one play, Jones locked in on Akron QB Patrick Nicely, jumped when Nicely pump-faked, landed and still chased him down for the tackle.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like this team. We've got to start learning to win." -- Syracuse coach Doug Marrone.
LOOKING GOOD: The defense hasn't skipped a beat from last season and sent a surge of confidence through Syracuse fans that good things are on the way again this season. Akron had 166 yards of offense, was 4-for-17 on third down, managed just 55 yards rushing, and got a steady wave of Derrell Smith, Doug Hogue, Chandler Jones, Bud Tribbey and Shamarko Thomas.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Assistant coach Bob Casullo still has some problems to fix on special teams. The blocked field goal for a touchdown and a 47-yard field goal by Ross Krautman were nice and should be noted, but Syracuse's special teams still has serious issues, as it did last season. Against Akron, the Orange had a bad snap on a PAT attempt and a missed PAT attempt by Ross Krautman. Also, Dan Vaughn got in Mike Holmes' way on one punt return attempt and the ball hit his helmet.

--Seven Orange players made their first career starts against Akron: LT Justin Pugh, LG Zach Chibane, RT Michael Hay, TE Jose Cruz, FB Adam Harris, QB Ryan Nassib and LB Marquis Spruill. Top Stories