Tag:Antwon Bailey
Posted on: March 10, 2011 5:49 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 5:52 pm
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Spring Practice Primer: Syracuse

Posted by Chip Patterson

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Syracuse , who started spring practice Tuesday.


Can Syracuse prove that 2010 was the start of a new era, and not a fluke?

There is no mistaking that Syracuse found their man when they hired Doug Marrone as their new head coach before the 2009 season. The first Orange alumnus to do so since 1948, Marrone knows what it takes to turn Syracuse back into a winner.

Marrone played offensive line for Syracuse under head coach Dick MacPherson. Well known for a six season streak of bowl berths (with a 5-0-1 record) and an 11-0 regular season in 1987, MacPherson nearly lost his job before the streak started. Marrone played on the team that took Mac to his first bowl game as head coach of the Orange, a small success that many believe saved his job. Marrone has witnessed firsthand the foundations needed to establish a winning program at Syracuse. After a successful 2010 Syracuse entered spring practice with a buzz; a new feeling of optimism heading into Marrone's third season as coach.

"We've got a glow about us," said running back Antwon Bailey. "It's good to be back, just to have a helmet on again."

The 2010 Syracuse Orange finished 8-5 with a dramatic 36-34 victory over Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl. It was the best record, and first bowl win since the 2001 season. More than that, it was the first time the Orange had made the postseason since 2004. Syracuse was never quite a player in the wide-open Big East title race, but they made enough noise to earn the respect of the conference.

Syracuse did very few things glamorously last season, but they found ways to win. Fitting that a team coached by an offensive lineman would reach the postseason by playing tough, hard-nosed football. Syracuse started the season hot, using momentum from a cushy non-conference schedule to jump out to a 6-2 start. The defense was playing well, and Syracuse was doing damage on the ground with Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey. That defensive unit finished the season second in the Big East in total defense, and Carter was the conference's third leading rusher.

But Carter has graduated, and so have All-Big East linebackers Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith. If the Orange are going to repeat their success from 2010, they will need to reload that top-ranked defense. At linebacker rising sophomore Marquis Spruill, a starter in 2010 as a true freshman, will move over to middle linebacker to anchor the new unit. They get junior-college transfer Siriki Diabate eligible in the fall, but the first team for now will include Dan Vaughan and Mario Tull. In front of them, Syracuse will also be looking to fill holes at the defensive tackle position. Andrew Lewis and Anthony Perkins are gone, and it will likely be some combination of Cory Boatman, Deon Goggins, Jay Bromley, and Robert Welsh competing for the starting positions this spring.

Replacing Carter will be tough, seeing as he made up 68% of Syracuse's ground game in 2010. Luckily, his replacement has seen his fair share of snaps. Bailey picked up 554 yards rushing and 306 yards receiving in Carter's stead last season. Marrone has already identified him as the featured back for next season, but his size has many critics wondering if he can go every down. Rising sophomore Prince-Tyson Gulley saw action in the special-teams as a freshman, and could push Bailey for snaps this spring.

But one area of the Syracuse depth chart seems to be sorted out as spring practice begins. Quarterback Ryan Nassib started 13 games in 2010, and the coaching staff has anointed him the starter in spring practice. But just because Nassib has the starting position virtually locked up in March, that doesn't mean that he is taking spring practice any differently.

"This is spring ball. Really, the definition of spring ball is competition. Nothing is ever guaranteed in this game," Nassib said Tuesday night after the Orange opened spring practice. "You've really got to go out there every day and never think that you're owed anything and just keep competing. There's four, five other guys behind me that want the same job. You've really got to start anew, stay humble, just keep working."

Nassib was spotty, at best, in his first full season as the starting quarterback. His 19 touchdowns on the season were padded heavily during the beginning of the season, with the West Chester, PA native throwing just 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in the final four games of the regular season.

But in Nassib's defense, he wasn't dealing with the most polished crop of wide receivers. Van Chew, Marcus Sales, and Alec Lemon all return, hopefully improved with a season of experience under their belt. A lot of the early focus during spring will be on Sales, who exploded on the scene in the Pinstripe Bowl with 172 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns. An improved passing game in 2011 will go along way to take the pressure off Bailey, and give the Orange a much better chance of returning to the postseason.

So was 2010 a fluke? Doug Marrone will have a lot of work to do to replace critical pieces to last season's success, and that starts now in spring practice. As far as expectations go for 2011? A second-straight bowl berth could validate a new era in Syracuse football. But it will take a lot of work from Syracuse's returning starters to pick up where last year's seniors left off, setting the tone on and off the field.

Syracuse started spring practice on Tuesday, they will play their annual spring game on April 16

Click here for more Spring Practice Primers

Posted on: December 27, 2010 2:15 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 2:15 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Pinstripe Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli as part of the blog's Bowl Bonanza series.  Read our preview for today's Independence Bowl here.

The Basics: Kansas State (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5), Dec. 30, 3:20pm EST

Why You Should Watch: Because don't you want to be able to tell your children and grandchildren someday that you were there, at home, to watch the first ever New Era Pinstripe Bowl inside the legendary two-year old -- it may be 22 years old by then -- Yankee Stadium?  Who could pass that opportunity up?  Plus, given the latest weather patterns to hit New York this week, the game could be played under two feet of snow.

Keys to Victory for Kansas State: It seems pretty generic to say it, but it's true.  In order for Kansas State to beat Syracuse the Wildcats are going to have to win the battle up front on offense.  Syracuse has a strong defensive line anchored by defensive tackles Bud Tribbey and Andrew Lewis.  The interior of KSU's line, which has been strong all season, will have to neutralize those two and get to the second level and take linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue out of the equation.

This will be a key for Daniel Thomas to find room, and the more successful that Daniel Thomas is, the more successful Kansas State generally is.  

It's likely that Kansas State will also feature backup QB Collin Klein a bit in this game as well.  He saw a lot more playing time towards the end of the season, and he's more athletic and elusive than Carson Coffman is, and at times looked unstoppable.  It will be important for Kansas State to be successful on the ground because its passing attack has been suspect this season, and Syracuse is strong in pass coverage.

Keys to Victory for Syracuse: It's not exactly a secret that Syracuse's strength is its defense.  The Orange are ranked only 99th in the country with 21.0 points per game, but are ranked 13th in the nation on defense, allowing only 18.1 points per game.

That formula shouldn't change in this game, but Syracuse does have a chance to be a bit more successful on offense.  Particularly in the rushing game, as Kansas State has been pretty underwhelming against the run on defense this season.  So Syracuse's best bet would be to feed the ball to Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey and pound the Wildcats defense into submission.

There may be room for Syracuse to throw the ball a bit better than they have this season, but Ryan Nassib doesn't have many options around him and he can be a bit slow in making a decision. So Syracuse would be better served to pick its spots in the passing game, and let Carter and Bailey carry the load.

The Pinstripe Bowl is like: an actual baseball game at Yankee Stadium between the Yankees and Red Sox.  Not because this is such a strong rivalry, or because the stands will be packed, but because the final score is likely going to be 14-13 and the game will take over four hours.
Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Previewing Week 10 in the Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Big East has been busy making headlines this week with the announcement of planned expansion to ten football-playing schools.  The announcement solidifies many reports and has started speculation on everything from school selection, to timeframe, and even the potential changes to the college football landscape.  Seems fitting that the Big East would choose this week to make their most significant off-field announcement, because there is very little action on the field in Week 10.

Last week, Pittsburgh and Syracuse separated themselves from the rest of the conference by picking up their third conference victory.  Behind them is 1-1 Rutgers, and the rest of the conference is tied at 1-2.  The Panthers are not only a half-game ahead of the Orange, but also own the tiebreaker against Syracuse and Rutgers thanks to victories earlier in the season.  With only a month left in conference play the conference race is not over, but PIttsburgh does carry their own fate from here on out.  It would require two conference losses for the Panthers to be in jeopardy of losing the automatic BCS berth, and even then another team would have to win out.    

But the conference still holds six bowl ties, and every team is still technically capable of making the postseason at this point.  Most of the games left on the schedule are all conference games, and with seven teams 4-4 or better, each game will hold extra importance to anyone hoping to play football in December.  So while it may be hard to chase down conference-leading Pittsburgh, there is still plenty to play for.  The Panthers get Week 10 off, as does West Virginia, Connecticut, and Cincinnati.  

Wednesday - Rutgers at South Florida -  While they try to keep their focus on the field, it is impossible to ignore the health of defensive tackle Eric LaGrand, paralyzed while making a tackle against Army on October 16.  Thankfully, LaGrand was transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center on Wednesday, which as about as good as news will come on that front.  With a win, South Florida could come within a game of bowl eligibility.  It has been an up and down season for first-year head coach Skip Holtz, and a postseason berth would put a happy ending on his trial run with the Bulls.  I expect quarterback B.J. Daniels to build on his four TD performance against Cincinnati with another big outing.  PICK - South Florida 28, Rutgers 21 

Saturday - Louisville at Syracuse - Louisville could be without Bilal Powell, the conference's leading rusher, but will get backup Victor Anderson back for the first time in three games.  The Cardinal rushing attack is ranked among the top 25 in the nation, but they will face their greatest challenge against the Syracuse defense.  In the six Syracuse victories, the Orange have held their opponents to 14 points or less.  They have complimented that defense with a patient and effective rushing attack of their own, headed by Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.  Syracuse has been clicking recently, and already looks like a different team than the one that got throttled 45-14 by Pittsburgh.  The Orange have been successful on the road, and I do not see them changing their execution at home.  PICK - Syracuse 19, Louisville 14   
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: October 24, 2010 11:43 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Oct. 23)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Eight teams still have a shot at BCS berth - As crazy as it sounds, the perfect storm of circumstance has brought about a wide open Big East conference race.  The first major factor has been the scheduling.  For the most part, each team backlogged their conference schedule.  So while we are at the midpoint of the regular season, six of the eight teams in the conference are only two games into league play.  Even the seemingly hapless Connecticut Huskies are a Pittsburgh upset from climbing back into the race.  Knock the Big East as much as you want, but at the wide-open race will at least make each game interesting coming down the stretch.  
  
2. Syracuse isn't flashy, but they are getting it done - After getting throttled by Pittsburgh at home, Syracuse bounced back to stun West Virginia in Morgantown.  The Orange got right back to the same kind of tough football that helped them rattle off three straight wins, with aggressive defense and a solid running game.  When Delone Carter left the game with a hip injury, backup running back Antwon Bailey stepped and delivered a season high 94 yards on the ground.  The defense kept West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith guessing all day, disguising their coverages and blitzes to force a season high three interceptions.  Syracuse hasn't put together impressive victories (particularly not scoring a point after halftime) but if they can continue to stack the W's, the Orange could find themselves bowling in 2010.

3. Tino Sunseri has arrived - After a somewhat shaky start, Sunseri has come into his own as the leader of the Panthers offense.  The rushing attack has not been what it was a year ago in Dion Lewis' breakout season, but the sophomore signal caller has stepped it up through the air in conference play.  After five touchdowns in the first five games, Sunseri has connected with his receivers for seven scores in the last two weeks.  If he can continue to find playmaking wide receiver Jon Baldwin, like he did for 139 yards against Rutgers, Pittsburgh could be a difficult team to beat down the stretch.

4. There is some hope in Tampa for South Florida - To reiterate the earlier point, South Florida's 38-30 victory over Cincinnati on Friday kept the Bulls from falling all but out of the Big East hunt.  Not only did first year head coach Skip Holtz avoid starting 0-3 in the conference, but he got the best performance of the season from quarterback B.J. Daniels.  If Daniels' performance was more than just a flash in the pan, South Florida can do a lot to make up for the rough start.

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Posted on: October 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Syracuse just turned the Big East upside down

Posted by Chip Patterson

And just like that, the Big East has been blown wide open.  

We figured that it could happen, just weren't all that positive that it would.  But with Syracuse's 19-14 victory, West Virginia has been knocked off their post as the Big East front runner and the conference is now up for grabs.  Syracuse forced West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith into three first half interceptions that the Orange turned into points, and the Mountaineers weren't able to climb back from the halftime deficit.  In fact, after a very exciting back and forth first half of play, neither team scored scored a point after the break.  

Syracuse dominated West Virginia on the ground, racking up 183 rushing yards on one of the best statistical defenses in the nation.  Running back Delone Carter left the game in the second quarter with a hip injury after racking up 75 yards, but backup Antwon Bailey was just as effective for the Orange.  Bailey carried 19 times for 94 yards, career high's in both categories, and Syracuse shed a new light on the Mountaineer squad that many had already penciled in for the conference title. 

Pittsburgh has now jumped into the conference lead with their 41-21 dismantling of Rutgers.  After the 2-0 Panthers stand Syracuse, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Connecticut and Louisville as teams with one loss.  That list will be shortened after the completion of the Huskies-Cardinals game, but the argument will still be valid for 3/4 of the conference to be considered legitimate contenders.

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Posted on: October 23, 2010 1:55 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 1:58 pm
 

Geno Smith unraveling in Morgantown

Posted by Chip Patterson

After throwing only two interceptions in his first 196+ attempts, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has thrown three picks in the first half of Saturday's conference match up with Syracuse.  The Orange have been able to capitalize on the mistakes, and lead 19-14 in Morgantown at the break.  Syracuse has been unintimidated by the West Virginia defense, running right at the top ranked unit for 132 yards on the ground.  The Mountaineers entered the game ranked third in scoring defense, but have not had an answer for Syracuse's rushing tandem of Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.  

Smith's interceptions have given Syracuse short fields for three scoring drives, but the Mountaineers have been able to hold them to field goals each time.  If Smith can keep the ball out of the hands of the Orange, they should be able to pull back in this game.  Until then though, we have an UPSET ALERT!

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com