Posted by Chip Patterson
Syracuse's 2010 campaign delivered the first bowl victory for an Orange team in nearly a decade. With 13 starters returning for 2011, the media picked Syracuse to finish fourth in the conference in the preseason poll. This should be a time of excitement and optimism for Orange football, but head coach Doug Marrone has seemed displeased with their work three practices in to fall camp. Nolan Weidner, of The Post-Standard observed that the third year head coach "wasn't particularly upbeat" when evaluating his team's performance on Sunday.
"As of right now, no one's really separated themselves," Marrone explained. "We expect a lot of them, we hold them to a high standard. We have high expectations for them this year, it's all about the little things."
Some of those "little things" add up to a general feeling of practice productivity. When Marrone felt like his squad wasn't getting that kind of "quality practice" he was looking for, he cut Sunday's session short. In his post-practice comments with the media (The Post-Standard has a video here), Marrone seemed to place some of the blame for sub-par practice on the youth of his team. While the Orange do bring back several upperclassmen, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, only five of the top 12 tacklers are back on defense. With big question holes to fill at linebacker and cornerback, that competition Marrone is looking for will be key to re-establish a defense that only gave up 19.3 points per game in 2010.
The onus on that defensive side will start on the front line, led by junior all-conference end Chandler Jones and senior Mikhail Marinovich. With a Sept. 17 trip to face USC in the Coliseum, there will not be much of a learning curve once the season starts. As an Orange alum himself, Marrone takes great pride in his team's work ethic. I would expect that this week's practices may carry a different tone as the season inches closer.