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Remember the Orange: The Pros & Cons to Syracuse’s Fort Drum Workouts

No, you’re not watching Remember the Titans again. It’s just Syracuse football being woken up at 6a by screaming military personal from Fort Drum in Jefferson County. The Orange recently made its way up to the military base to prepare for the upcoming season and the nation’s toughest non-conference schedule. With a priority on team-bonding and leadership activities, Doug Marrone is enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“We’re really excited. We came up here to become a better football team. We came up here to really focus and concentrate on football and be able to work with the military and Fort Drum and trying to help us with some of the leadership and some of the training.”

This week is designed on conditioning and other military drills, but is this too strenuous for a team just weeks before an extremely difficult season? Personally, I like Marrone’s decision to bring his team an hour and a half north to the Watertown area for bonding. But will the team buy in? Firing automatic weapons is not going to help prepare for USC and Mizzou, but these guys are having fun while doing it.

It might be cliche, but the point is really for these guys to grow as a team. You lose five games in a row to finish the season, and you need to change it up. There have been plenty of team building activities, such as pulling tanks and marching in single file lines. Corner Brandon Reddish discussed it to Orange All-Access.

“I’m just going ask my brothers to help me out, and the whole team to help me out [at Fort Drum]. Whether it’s my technique, getting up on time, going to sleep on time, lights out, studying the playbook, whatever it takes.”

These guys are football players. There isn’t anything X’s and O’s-wise they are going to take away from military drills. They are used to coaches screaming in their faces, and weightlifting and building muscle. But they may have some fun completing these drills, which is what Marrone is intending.

It’s new and a change a pace. It’s a fresh approach to pre-season workouts. Both Reddish and center Macky MacPherson used “fun” to describe their designated drill assignments. The leaders on this squad, like Shamarko Thomas and Ryan Nassib, have to buy in as well. MacPherson agrees the team is coming together better because of Fort Drum.

“It’s going to be an interesting experience getting to know people more. You don’t get to choose who you sit with anymore, you sit with who’s in front of you. We’re roomed mostly offense-defense, so we have to get to know someone probably don’t know as well as you’d think.” 

Would I rather see this squad working out of the shotgun at Manley or on a machine gun at Fort Drum? The former. But as long as the Orange buy into their work at the base, the bonds will pay dividends on the football field this fall.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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