Why the matchup against the Rams reeks of letdown game for the Orange.
Syracuse is coming off a dramatic come-from-behind win in its season opener. Next week SU will travel across the country to take its shot at one of the nation’s most storied programs. Sandwiched in between those two adrenaline-pumping matchups is a home date with FCS opponent Rhode Island. One look at that schedule and it’s easy to label this Saturday’s tuneup game with the Rams as a potential trap game.
One person who definitely doesn’t see it that way however is Orange coach Doug Marrone.
“The only theory I buy into is that it’s a game, that you have to go out and play. If everyone knew who was gonna win, then you wouldn’t have to show up. I think every time you go out there you’ve gotta play the game. I think it’s a point of you try to put stress on your team, try to make stress on the players to do as well as possible and you don’t try to listen to people outside the program. Talking to the players, we know how good Rhode Island is.”
For people who do buy into the theory of the trap game, this Saturday has all the familiar dynamics.
Coming off of an emotional win: Check. A come-from behind overtime thriller could certainly have an emotional hangover for a lot of teams.
Big name opponent on tap the next week: Check. In fact, the biggest name on the SU schedule this year is USC, and while fans will spend much of this week looking forward to that game, the players need to avoid doing the same.
An FCS team coming off a 5-6 season just isn’t going to spark the natural fire, but The Dougie doesn’t think his team is in a position to take any opponent lightly.
“I just laugh because our recent history we have not been a very good football team, so how do you look ahead or behind? I’m not even looking forward to the game this Saturday. What I’m trying to make sure of is that we have a great practice today, and we do the things we have to do today to win.”
One thing that should help Marrone keep his team in focus this week is the game tape from Wake Forest. Although it escaped with the win, the Orange was dreadful for the first three quarters of the season opener, and showed there’s still plenty to improve upon before getting to USC and eventually the Big East schedule.
While fans may not get giddy for a game against Rhode Island, there will be plenty of things to watch for – question marks left over from Wake Forest that need to be answered.
- Can the secondary bounce back from a disappointing performance?
- Will the offensive line allow Nassib to stand in the pocket and make throws for a whole game?
- Can the offense find a rhythm right away and avoid another slow start?
Syracuse is also playing a lot of young players right now who could use all the experience they can get.
This FCS matchup affords an opportunity to improve on last week’s weaknesses and gain experience for younger players. For the Orange, the best way to avoid looking too far past the Rams will be to spend this week focusing on itself.
Posted: Steve Neikam