Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Syracuse.
Spring Practice Starts: March 20
Spring Game: Saturday, April 21
Three things to look for:
1. Can Ryan Nassib turn impressive numbers into wins? Senior quarterback Ryan Nassib enters spring practice as the unchallenged starter at quarterback after an impressive 2011 season. Nassib set or tied single-season school records for completions (259), yards (2,685), and touchdown passes (22) last season, but the number that will is lingering around Syracuse football is 5 - the number of consecutive losses at the end of the 2011 season. As the senior starting quarterback, the Orange will look to Nassib to lead the team down the stretch of the season. They need him to continue his production, Nassib just needs to make sure they result in wins.
2. Needing new playmakers on the defensive line. Starting defensive ends Mikhail Marinovich and Chandler Jones, a First Team All-Big East selection in 2011, are gone; leaving defensive tackle Deon Goggins to anchor the line in 2012. Head coach Doug Marrone has hinted at making some slight changes to the defensive scheme, and that could include rearranging the defensive line. While several positions in the rotation need to be filled, arguably the most important is the pass rushing threat Jones presented on the end. Unfortunately sophomore Micah Robinson - thought to be a candidate to start on the end - will be sitting out spring practice recovering from surgery.
3. Return of Marcus Sales and Prince-Tyson Gulley. Marcus Sales returns to the team after being suspended for all of 2011 as a result of multiple drug charges. Those charges were dropped in October, and now Sales is enrolled in school and eligible on the football field. Orange fans saw a splash of Sales' potential in the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl victory, his last game in uniform. Sales torched Kansas State for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the 36-34 win, the program's first bowl victory since 2001. Running back Prince-Tyson Gulley backed up Antwon Bailey last season and contributed in the return game, but missed the final eight games of the season after suffering a broken collarbone in an off-field incident. Now healthy, Gulley will have plenty of opportunities as the coaching staff looks to find a suitable replacement for Bailey (1,097 yards in 2011) at the starting running back position.
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