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Upstate NY’s Jordan Thomas Disses Syracuse

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Syracuse fans have complained a whole hell of a lot about the protection problems Ryan Nassib faced during Saturday’s loss against Louisville.

The Orange was without its starting right tackle, Michael Hay, and things got worse when center Ryan Bartholemew left briefly with an injury.

Despite the loss, Delone Carter still rushed for 100 yards, and Nassib was an Alec Lemon drop away from a touchdown that would have changed the complexion of the game.

After years of offensive line futility, forget bitching about Zach Chibane’s youth or Hay’s injury problems. It’s time to admit, “at least we’re not Rutgers.”

The Scarlet Knights have quite possibly the worst offensive line in the country. Coming into last week’s game against USF, they had allowed 33 sacks, good for last in D1 and gave up another two to the Bulls.

Good thing Southern Tier-product Jordan Thomas is running behind that line. The true freshman running back grew up less than an hour away in Endicott, NY. He’s had 365 total yards through the ground and air this season, but says he never seriously considered Syracuse and grew up (gasp) a Penn State fan.

“I’ve never even been to a game at Syracuse. The reason why I came here is because it felt like home. I had the feeling that I was comfortable here and that overtook my decision.”

Wonder how Thomas’ decision feels this week? While Syracuse is on the doorstep of a bowl berth and a renaissance season, RU is just 4-4 on the year – with a losing record in the Big East and that humiliating home loss to Tulane still reverberating. The Syracuse-Rutgers recruiting battles have become lore since Doug Marrone has taken over. We’ve witnessed guys switch hats between the two schools just hours before Signing Day.

Here’s a laundry list of all the things the Knights are doing well from the Bergen Record:

“The same problems apparent early in the season are still in full view –  bad shotgun snaps, poor pass protection, no running game, penalties, head-scratching play calls and no pressure on the opposing quarterback.

“Rutgers attempted a three-step drop to get the ball out of QB Chas Dodd’s hands quickly and help the porous offensive line. But the unit gave up those two critical sacks, including one on a fourth-and-3 with 3:47 left to play, needing only a field goal to win.

“The running game managed just 78 yards on 30 carries, with freshman Jeremy Deering gaining 69 yards out of the Wildcat formation. That’s a measly nine yards net out of the traditional running formation.”

Let’s all revel in this. Rutgers sucks up front. The Scarlet Knights can’t pass protect worth a damn and could be losing ground to the Orange in the recruiting department. SU takes a unit that sacked Crazy Greg Schiano’s bunch nine times last year on to Piscataway this weekend.

Nine times.

Meanwhile, the Orange has made strides on the offensive line. Both Andrew Tiller and Michael Hay are rental two-year players who came as a direct result of John Anselmo’s recruiting influence. Where is the ‘Cuse without those two?

New York Times writer Pete Thamel explained to me that the “New Hampshire-level talent” from Syracuse is fading, and Marrone products are coming in to bolster the roster already.

It’s two rival schools in two directions. Time to hype this week up. SU is better than Rutgers right now.

Posted: Ted Conroy

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