Student Reporting Archive

The Buffalo Bills Experience

October 25, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Let’s go Buffalo! This simple yet effective catch phrase roars through Ralph Wilson Stadium as 74,000 fans cheer for their hometown Bills. While the Giants and Jets fill up the back pages of sports sections, they technically play in New Jersey. Thus, I find myself in New York’s lone professional football […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Let’s go Buffalo! This simple yet effective catch phrase roars through Ralph Wilson Stadium as 74,000 fans cheer for their hometown Bills. While the Giants and Jets fill up the back pages of sports sections, they technically play in New Jersey. Thus, I find myself in New York’s lone professional football Mecca and it felt like I landed on a different planet.

How did I get here to begin with? It started with a conversation among friends during Newhouse summer boot camp. We looked at the schedule and circled October 13th, 2013 versus the Cincinnati Bengals. A two-hour drive west on I-90 took us from Syracuse to Buffalo on Saturday night. Luckily, a fellow classmate lives here and was gracious enough to be our guide and host for the weekend.

What is the first thing you think of when hearing Buffalo? Wings naturally.

“You have to get authentic Buffalo wings as soon as we get there,” our friend proclaimed.

Everyone says to check out Duff’s, and by many accounts Anchor Bar is where Buffalo Wings were invented, but if you want an old school, country western vibe, locals say Sportsmen’s Tavern is the place to be. Located in Black Rock, this two-story pub and music venue is a staple of the community, where twenty-something-year-old hipsters and war veterans share bar stools and stories till 4 a.m.

I ordered a basket of ten spicy wings that were cooked to perfection, falling off the bone, and we drank Rusty Chain, an amber brewed by local favorites Flying Bison. The house band played Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello covers, with the addition of a great slide guitar player. Everyone welcomed us in like family. The bartender told me a story about rebuilding a 1967 Fastback Mustang Mach 1 over the summer, and a sauced up football fan chewed my ear off about this rookie quarterback starting the next day. Our group stayed up late playing pool and mingling with the locals, knowing we had a long day ahead of ourselves.

Sunday is a day of rest, but also a time for great football. Waking up early and heading to the stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff sent chills down this sports junkie’s spine. This would be my first time seeing a live professional football game. Growing up in Southern California, the ‘hometown’ team is the San Diego Chargers. A modest 90-minute drive down the 5 South could take me there, but I’m not a Bolts fan and never made the trek.

The first thing you notice driving towards the stadium parking lot are nearby residents selling spaces on their driveways and front lawns for $10 to $20. An extra five dollars will get you a parking spot inside Tailgate USA, in Orchard Park, the Buffalo suburb where Ralph Wilson Stadium is located. The lot is a 360 degree concrete jungle surrounding the stadium, which has been home to the Bills and their fans since 1973.

Buffalo fans are notorious for their pre-game activities and our rowdy bunch was ready to join the party. Charcoal and propane grills lined the asphalt, with the smell of hot dogs, hamburgers and bratwursts sizzling behind every car, pickup truck and minivan. Coolers stocked with Bud Light, Coors Light and Natty Ice were popular choices along with camping chairs propped up by 9 a.m.  Families were playing backyard games such as corn hole and tossing around the pigskin. Tailgating is serious business around these parts.

Then you become aware of Zubas, everywhere. A fashion trend consisting of red, white, and blue oversized stripped pants, matching their team’s colors. A craze started in the 1980’s that quickly escaped most of America, except here. Men, women, and children of all ages wear these obscenely bright pants with pride, along with throwback Jim Kelly jerseys and sing the team fight song.

As for the game itself, the rookie quarterback, Thad Lewis, started for the Bills and gave them a brief lead early on. Not long after, a couple thousand Bengals fans, in the right end zone were noticeably vocal. Wearing matching striped tiger prints, they took over as their team stormed back to what seemed like a comfortable lead.

Suddenly some football magic happened. An offensive explosion broke out on this overcast afternoon. A deep pass with under a minute to play tied the game up and forced overtime to the delight of many. A few minutes later, however, the road team won on an anticlimactic field goal.

This was my first NFL experience and it took part in the least likely of places. Time slows down on Sunday afternoons, where friends and family come together and all that really matters is Bills football. Buffalo, New York, I salute you.

Orange Lacrosse Aims for a Championship

October 23, 2013

Only four weeks into practice, each player on the Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team, has his mind fixated on winning the 2014 championship. “We don’t really care who’s starting as long as we get that championship,” Junior goalie Dominic Lamolinara said. That was the sentiment from most players and Coach Desko on Media Day. How […]

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Only four weeks into practice, each player on the Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team, has his mind fixated on winning the 2014 championship.

“We don’t really care who’s starting as long as we get that championship,” Junior goalie Dominic Lamolinara said.

That was the sentiment from most players and Coach Desko on Media Day.

How is this year going to be different?

“I think the glaring one [issue last year] was face-offs,” Desko said, echoing what most anyone who watched the team in the 2013 NCAA title match. “I thought everything else went well, in all aspects of the game. I thought we were efficient. We came out on top are most of our [games]. We had ten one-goal games last year.”

Desko said the strategy this year is simple – work on face-offs. “[We’ve] done more face-offs this year already, then we’ve probably did all of last year.”

Old players out/ new ones in

With players including Brian Megill, JoJo Marasco, and Luke Cometti gone, the team has big gaps to fill. Lamolinara said Megill was like another coach on the field, and with Megill gone he will have to step up, “and pick up the slack.”
Coach Desko said he is tackling the challenge of bringing in a bunch of younger players.

“Younger players don’t know the system yet,” he said and most of fall practice will be an opportunity for them to get familiar with it, possibly solidifying a spot for them in the spring.

SU Runner Nick Ryan: How High is Your Up?

October 21, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — That was the mantra. That was the question his high school coach always posed to Nick Ryan. Some might call it cliché, or coachspeak, because it’s one of those questions to which you never really know the answer. But the Syracuse University freshman cross country/track runner plans on doing his best […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  That was the mantra. That was the question his high school coach always posed to Nick Ryan. Some might call it cliché, or coachspeak, because it’s one of those questions to which you never really know the answer. But the Syracuse University freshman cross country/track runner plans on doing his best to discover. One of the most highly touted high school runners in the nation last year, Ryan’s combination of talent, athleticism and heart might make finding out the answer his longest, toughest hill to climb yet.
Ryan is a hometown kid, graduating from local running powerhouse Fayetteville-Manlius last year. His elite status on the national running scene made him a hot commodity in recruiting circles. He considered offers from Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. In the end he chose Syracuse.

“I looked at Syracuse because I knew they were really good, but at first I wanted to get out of state,” he said. “After going on all my other visits and meeting the different coaches, I realized this really was the best team that I could be a part of.”

He was not a running prodigy right out of the gate though.

“My sixth grade teacher suggested I should do it, basically because I had a lot of energy in class and I was kind of obnoxious,” Ryan said, laughing. He remembers showing up on the varsity team as a freshman and chasing after standout senior, Alex Hatz at the time. “He was kind of the older kid that was really, really good at running that I wanted to be as fast as someday.”

The prestigious running program at F-M is headed by legendary coach Bill Aris, perhaps best known for his success with the girls’ team in recent years, where he has led them to seven consecutive national championships. Up until his sophomore season, Ryan was a good, but not yet great runner. They were preparing for the Nike Cross Nationals meet in Portland, Ore. when his coach pulled him aside.

“I suggested to him this,” Aris said. “You’ll have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by just going out, and running like hell, and taking a shot at it, and dealing with the pain and finding out just how good you can be.”

The result of that race was F-M placing runner up in the nation when no one expected them to make it close to the podium that year. Ryan placed 28th overall in what is high school cross country’s equivalent of a national championship, and third on his team behind two seniors.

“After that, that created really a breakthrough for him where he saw the world in a whole different perspective,” Aris said. Ryan hasn’t looked back.

He was named Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year for New York by the time he was a junior, an honor he would repeat his senior year. He ran a Section III record-breaking 4:05 1600 meter (mile) race his junior year to capture the state crown, along with a laundry list of other championships and record setting performances.

Even with so much success, Ryan finds it uncomfortable to talk about himself. Asked if his name deserves to be mentioned in the pantheon of F-M distance greats, he fidgets nervously.

“I mean, I think. I don’t…” Ryan starts to trail off. “Yeah I think so. I hold school records, I like to think I’m up there.”

He lets out a slightly nervous laugh.

Jack Reed, a retired teacher who coaches at nearby Skaneateles High School has coached for more than 30 years and won several championships. He holds a 15-year unbeaten dual meet streak (93 straight) and coached many athletes who have gone on to great success, such as Olympian Jonathon Riley (Athens).

“He’s a blue-chip for sure. Every time I’ve seen him compete he looks totally in control,” Reed said. “His mechanics are fluid he looks relaxed. I have to believe he can still go a lot deeper in the well.”

Standing slightly more than six feet and weighing a lean 165 pounds, Ryan’s body type is not that of the stereotypical, thin and wispy distance runner.

“He’s kind of a throwback to me,” Reed said. “His body is similar to the old milers like a Peter Snell; bigger, dense, thunderous thighs. He’s a kid that stands out on the [starting] line.”

Ryan got started early by enrolling in Syracuse’s Summer Start program. It gave him a chance to move into the dorms, take a couple of classes and grow somewhat acclimated to college life before the fall semester started. It also let him get a jump-start training with some teammates.

“I’m just trying to put in all the work I can possibly do to be as good as I can,” he said. “If I can make the top 10 or top 7 that would be really cool, but with all the really good guys on this team it’s tough to gauge.”

Coaches Aris and Reed both agree the sky is limit for Ryan if he stays healthy and dedicated to running. Winning national championships, getting sponsored after school and even the Olympics could all be possible for a runner of Ryan’s magnitude.

As a blue-chip prospect, there is a certain level of pressure on Syracuse head coach Chris Fox.

“Blue-chippers are a big responsibility to the coaching staff,” Reed said. “You got him in house, now how do you improve him. Word gets out. If you got a blue-chipper and he doesn’t, that might keep you from landing the next.”

Both coaches agree he is in good hands at Syracuse and expect to see big things out of Ryan in his junior and senior years and possibly beyond.
No one will predict just how high Nick Ryan’s up is. The consensus is the ceiling is too high to see right now, and that’s kind of the way Ryan likes it.

“Running is one of the most straightforward sports you can have,” he said. “You either do the work or don’t do the work and there’s not really a whole lot of messing around.”

Syracuse Basketball Media Day

October 19, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The 2013-14 Orange Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took part in media day on Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. Men’s head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media for 15 minutes and discussed his new roster; a balanced class that includes four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and five […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  The 2013-14 Orange Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took part in media day on Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

Men’s head coach Jim Boeheim addressed the media for 15 minutes and discussed his new roster; a balanced class that includes four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen.

Talk of the new ACC schedule was prevalent and Boeheim seemed well prepared.

“We’re going from a very tough conference to another very tough conference, so there’s no difference for us as far as league play is concerned,” Boeheim said.
When asked about the departure of Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA and new starting point guard Tyler Ennis, the Orange head coach was confident with his young ball handler.

“Tyler is a very steady player, he knows what he is doing all the time. He plays a lot like a veteran point guard, which is very impressive coming in as a freshman. He has an excellent skill set. He has the ability to be explosive and make plays, but he also can run the team efficiently and make good decisions in the half court. I think he’s as well prepared as any freshman point guard we’ve had here.”

Once the presser concluded the team broke out for individual interviews and the official team photograph.
Earlier in the day, the Orange women’s basketball team held its media session. Head coach Quentin Hillsman spoke to reporters and touched on the new season and challenges that lie ahead in the ACC.

“One thing about our roster is that we are very deep,” Hillsman said. “The last couple years, that has been out strong point, that we have been able to play nine, 10 players double figure minutes. This year, I think we’ll need 11 or 12 to really step up and play big for us.”

The men’s team begins exhibition play Friday, November 1, at 7 p.m. versus Holy Family at the Carrier Dome. The women’s first home game tips off Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. versus Dartmouth.

A Rough Patch of Ice for Orange’s Hockey Team

October 17, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The Orange women’s hockey team is heading to Providence, RI this weekend, looking to end a three game losing streak and get back to a winning formula in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference. Last weekend Syracuse played a home-and-home series versus upstate New York rival Clarkson to begin conference play. […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  The Orange women’s hockey team is heading to Providence, RI this weekend, looking to end a three game losing streak and get back to a winning formula in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference.

Last weekend Syracuse played a home-and-home series versus upstate New York rival Clarkson to begin conference play. On the road at Cheel Arena, the women’s team were shut out 4-0. Being out shot 36 to 26, and gave up two back-breaking goals in the final period. The Golden Knights are now 5-0-0 and the Orange are 1-3-0.

One night earlier and 145 miles south on I-81, the teams faced off at Tennity Ice Pavilion for the Orange’s home opener. Led by senior goaltender Kallie Billadeau, the women’s squad played an inspiring, fast-paced game. The Golden Knights came in ranked as the No. 3 team in the country, and provided an overwhelming offensive attack from the opening face off.

A slap shot by Carly Mercer got Clarkson on the board early, with 1:40 remaining in the first period. Mercer would add another goal in the second period to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes to play.

The score remained the same until midway through the third period. Having a 5-on-3-man advantage, Nicole Renault, a sophomore from Plymouth, Mass., scored a wrist shot for the Orange and cut the deficit to one.

Penalty killing played a big part into the Orange defense, holding the opposition’s power play to 0-for-5, while going 1-for-5 themselves.

Billadeau, the Minnetonka, Minn. native did her best between the pipes, saving 39 shots for the Orange. It was not enough, however, as Clarkson would hold on to win 2-1.

Total shots taken was the real story, as the Golden Knights fired off 41 to the Orange’s 18.

Clarkson improved to 4-0-0, while Syracuse fell to 1-2-0 on the early season.

The Orange now travel to play Providence College for back-to-back games this weekend. Friday the puck drops at 7 PM and Saturday at 3 PM.

They return home and face Boston College and Union College, respectively, the following weekend of October 25th and 26th. Home games are free to the public.

Hunt Needs to Bring Back Faith to Orange Nation

October 17, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Coming into the season, Syracuse was expected to run the football and do it well. The Orange would ride its horses into the ACC to establish the program’s credibility. The team struggled at first, breaking the 200-yard rushing mark only once (against Wagner) in its first four games. Other than that, […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Coming into the season, Syracuse was expected to run the football and do it well. The Orange would ride its horses into the ACC to establish the program’s credibility.

The team struggled at first, breaking the 200-yard rushing mark only once (against Wagner) in its first four games. Other than that, the rushing attack seemed stunted.

Now, after two games against Clemson and N.C. State, we see the attack forming. In both instances, Syracuse took advantage of two average run defenses—N.C. State is ranked 52nd in the nation in run defense and Clemson is 64th.

This week’s opponent, Georgia Tech, serves as a very interesting one; one that is similar to Syracuse.

Both teams rely heavily on running attacks that rank in the top 25 of the nation (Georgia Tech is No. 6; Syracuse is No. 22), and both teams boast a rush defense that ranks in the top 30 (Syracuse is 22nd; Georgia Tech is 30th).

This game is likely to be run-heavy and something’s got to give.

Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Terrel Hunt rank fourth, 11th and 18th in the ACC in rushing yards and Smith leads the league with eight rushing touchdowns.

But for the run to remain effective, Hunt must step up his passing performance.

QB Comparison

Look at a comparison between two quarterbacks in a two-game span:

Player A: 54.6 Completion percentage, 468 throwing yards, 1 TD, and 4 INT’s

Player B: 41.6 Completion percentage, 126 throwing yards, 0 TD, and 5 INT’s

Player A is Drew Allen during the first two games of the season, against Penn. St. and Northwestern. Player B is Terrel Hunt in the last two games, against Clemson and N.C. State.

Though it’s a small sample size, Hunt played poorly in his last two starts and you could argue Allen’s first starts came against two tougher defenses.

Allen was easy to criticize, being the new guy who stole the starting spot. His reputation grew off speculation and talent. His downfalls were lack of mobility behind shaky pass protection and his own inexperience.

Hunt earned the right to start and in his first two games, looked like he might be the answer at quarterback. Wins are always encouraging, but against the likes of Wagner and Tulane, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Hunt is dealing with the same inexperience bug that Allen caught, but he has a longer leash to work with because head coach Scott Shafer took a chance, endorsing him with the quarterback change. But that shouldn’t be taken for granted by Hunt or the fans.

This game is the game, and the rest of the schedule won’t be any easier: playing away against previously-ranked Maryland and No. 5 Florida State and at home against a Boston College team that led No. 3 Clemson last Saturday. Playing well against a respectable Georgia Tech pass-defense unit (ranked sixth in the ACC) would be a great accomplishment for Hunt.

He doesn’t need to throw five touchdowns. He doesn’t need to pass for 400 yards.  All the team needs for him to do is play in the system. Throw for 150 to 200 yards. Toss a touchdown or two. Try not to throw an interception and don’t take unnecessary risks. Ride your horses to this victory and just help hold the reins.

Terrel Hunt is a sophomore. He doesn’t need to be a star, much less a Heisman Trophy candidate. All he needs to do right now is show the capability to play effectively against better teams and grow in the system he plays in. Coach Shafer had the faith to put the ball in his hands. Now, Hunt needs to transfer that faith to the fans. He must prove that giving him the starting position wasn’t a mistake. And all that starts with this week’s game.

Twenty Years in One Night

October 9, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — “You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?” “I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.” This was part of a conversation I had with a worker at a middle of nowhere New York state gas station at about 1 AM on Oct. […]

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  “You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?”

“I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.”

This was part of a conversation I had with a worker at a middle of nowhere New York state gas station at about 1 AM on Oct. 7. It seems like when I am wearing Pittsburgh Pirates gear the first thought that jumps to most peoples’ minds is 1992. Atlanta Braves. Sid Bream. Game winning run. Last winning season.

That is usually the point where I have to leave the situation so I don’t throw up out of pure anger on the other person. But why, this time, did I just smile and pay for my Twix bar?

I got on the road from Syracuse, New York at 9:30 AM on Oct. 6. I knew I had a five hour drive ahead of me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and another five hours back to Syracuse to be ready for class the next day. But what’s ten hours compared to a life of baseball disappointment?

My brother had called me to say he had a ticket for the Pirates game, and it was mine if I could make it down. It was his birthday. I think he wasn’t clear on the whole he gets the gifts idea. The Pirates were in a Game 3 of the National League Division Series game in October at home. The whole idea sounded weird to me, but I didn’t hesitate. “I’ll be there.”

The drive from Syracuse felt more like my drive from home.  PNC Park was hundreds of miles away, but it might as well have been a short cab ride.  I was pumped full of adrenaline, which wasn’t terribly safe looking back.  I probably drove for much of the trip like Vin Diesel.

I pulled into the parking lot across from the Clark Building around 3:30 PM.  The building used to be a place where Clark candy bars were made when my dad worked there years ago.  The third floor of the building now houses the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where I had worked the past few summers.  I mostly did box scores for, among other things, the Pirates minor league affiliates.

I remember typing out Gerrit Cole’s stats when he was coming up through the minors, hoping he didn’t go the way of former first overall draft picks, like Bryan Bullington in 2002 and Kris Benson in 1996.  That’s not even mentioning one of my personal favorites, John Van Benschoten.  He was drafted eighth overall in 2001 after he led the NCAA in home runs.  But the Pirates converted him to pitcher.  Stranger than fiction.

Things have changed.  Neil Walker drafted in 2004, Andrew McCutchen in 2005, Pedro Alvarez in 2008 and Cole in 2011.  All huge contributors on this year’s playoff roster, with McCutchen possibly earning the National League MVP.  That would be the first Pirates MVP since some guy named Barry Bonds in 1992, the guy who couldn’t throw out Sid Freaking Bream.  It all comes back to that.

I walked past the front entrance of PNC Park and went around the outside toward the Clemente Bridge to meet my brother.  I saw my cousin at Dominic’s bar.  I saw an old friend on the street.  There was a sea of black shirts and more people walking around Federal Street off the Bridge than I have seen my entire life.

It was October.  The Buccos were in a playoff game.  Did I mention that?  It was a sellout.  It was 80 degrees.  Cats and dogs were living together.  I couldn’t stop thinking, “Is this really happening?”

The Buccos and the St. Louis Cardinals were all tied up one game apiece before this pivotal Game 3 in a best-of-five series.  Franciso Liriano, a legitimately good offseason pickup (which has been rare the past two decades), took the mound for the Pirates against Joe Kelly for the Cards.  “KEEEELLLLLYYYY” chants would rain down upon the pitcher throughout the game.

The energy in PNC Park was unbelievable.  The excitement was palpable.  You would have thought Liriano’s first strike won the game.  How could this be the same place I had gone to so many times before?  Winning changes things a bit.

I would compare the crowd to someone who had been bullied.  You take your shots, the insults, the shame.  You lift weights and take boxing classes for 20 years waiting for your payback.  Then, you finally come out in full force and insanity.  Except now there are nearly 50-thousand people with you who had the same experience.

The Pirates started it off with a bang.  McCutchen and Justin Morneau scored on a Marlon Byrd single in the bottom of the first.  They weren’t just happy to be here.  They were “fighting to win a World Series” as McCutchen would say after the game.

St. Louis responded with two runs of their own in the fifth.  A sacrifice fly by Russell Martin gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 edge, until Carlos Beltran came up clutch with a 409 foot solo shot in the eighth inning.

This is where all the sub .500 seasons had trained fans to get ready for it to fall apart.  But the crowd was different.  This team was different.  This season was different.  It wasn’t “oh, here we go again.”  It was “alright, let’s get another one.”

In fact, they got two more.  Alvarez and Martin both came up with big singles to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead.  If PNC Park had a roof, it would have been blown off.  There had to be some sort of world record broken for high fives.  Pittsburgh Pirates Pandemonium.

Here is what was going on after the Alvarez single (Yes, that’s my high pitched yell.  Let’s Go Bucs was said so many times I started to lose my voice).

And here is the blurry reaction from my brother’s phone to Martin’s single.

Grilled Cheese Time.  Pittsburgh closer and Baldwinsville, New York native Jason Grilli ran on to the field with Pearl Jam blasting behind him.  He gave up a leadoff single but quickly got the ball back and went to work.  Lineout, flyout, groundout, game over.

I had witnessed the Pittsburgh Pirates win a playoff game.  Raise the Jolly Roger.

There was a sense of pure joy, euphoria, even relief.  I honestly had thought many times that I would never see a winning baseball team in my life.  If nothing else, I can always say I was there.

I’m attempting to go into a profession where you do your best to stay unbiased.  That’s important, but I think it’s unrealistic to completely drop being a fan.  I recognize I have invested a lot of time, money, energy and frustration into the Pirates, along with many others.

The Steelers and Penguins have been through their ups and downs, but both teams have won championships and put together great seasons during my lifetime.  There was never a ton of risk involved in me, or anyone else, rooting for them.

The Pirates were never close to that.  People hate the Steelers and Penguins.  They pity the Pirates.  I continued cheering for them through epic failures and “Operation Shutdown” and the recent collapses the previous two seasons.  How many losses and “rebuilding years” can a fanbase take?

I thought of this season as the blackjack hand where the Buccos faithful went all in and finally won.  The dealer busted this time.  As Mike McDermott said in Rounders, “You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle… but you can’t win much either.”  This was the big payoff, the playoffs.

On the drive home, I stopped at that middle of nowhere New York state gas station.  I walked inside the store to grab a drink and some candy to keep me going late at night.  I went to pay.

The woman at the register was wearing a Braves hat.  On this night, in this random location, I ran into a Braves fan.  Again, it all comes back.  She saw me in my Pirates hat, and we started a conversation until we got to the question I mentioned.

“You probably don’t even remember Sid Bream, do you?”

“I was a one year old when that happened… but I remember it clearly.”

She began laughing, which would normally have made me want to shove that Twix bar in my eye.  But I laughed with her.  It was alright.

The Pirates would lose Game 4 the next day and now face a win-or-go-home Game 5 tonight.  The Braves fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in their series 3-1.  I guess we won’t see that Bream replay seven thousand times.

As I was heading back to my car, the cashier came outside to help another customer.  We made eye contact.  Right before I was about to shut the door, I heard her say, “Well, if we don’t win it, I sure hope you guys do.”

After all these years, all of the emotion, all of the losing, tonight’s victory, I could only think of three words: “Yeah, me too.”

No. 3 Clemson proves to be too much for the Orange to handle

October 5, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Syracuse coach Scott Shafer asked Orange Nation to fill the Carrier Dome when the third-ranked Clemson Tigers came to town on Saturday. Syracuse fans delivered, packing over 48,000 people in to the place. The team, however, failed to take advantage of crowd, falling to Clemson, 49-14. Clemson quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Tajh […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Syracuse coach Scott Shafer asked Orange Nation to fill the Carrier Dome when the third-ranked Clemson Tigers came to town on Saturday.

Syracuse fans delivered, packing over 48,000 people in to the place. The team, however, failed to take advantage of crowd, falling to Clemson, 49-14.

Clemson quarterback and Heisman-hopeful Tajh Boyd threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns, one of which was a 91-yard pass to wide receiver Sammy Watkins with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. That was Boyd’s last play of the game, taking all the wind out of Syracuse’s sails. Shafer said he was happy to see the fan’s enthusiasm throughout the game. But, he was upset his team could not reciprocate.

“To be honest with you: I think the fans did a better job out there than we did today,” Shafer said after the game. “And we owe them more, and we are going to give them more.

“And I just want to make sure that everyone understands that I am so happy and proud of this community.”

For a fan base that thought the Orange had a shot to win, the outcome seemed clear from the start. On the third play of the game, Boyd threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries. Humphries had two touchdowns and 118 yards in the game on only three receptions.

Syracuse cornerback Julian Whigham said the quick scores confirmed what he knew about Clemson: it could score quickly.

“When they score fast—like, whoa—they are as good as we thought they were,” Whigham said. “We just kept trying to play our game.

“That is on us. Come Sunday, [we will] improve when the film comes around.”

Syracuse’s defense forced Boyd to throw two interceptions, his first and second of the season. But, neither seemed to phase the Tiger quarterback as he continued his aerial assault.

“We got beat by a dog-gone good football team today,” Shafer said. “There is a reason they are top-three in the country, maybe higher.

“We just got to refocus and move forward to this North Carolina State game.”

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt threw for only 52 yards and no touchdowns. Hunt had thrown for three and four touchdowns, respectively, in his first two starts of the season.

“We just got to execute a lot better,” Hunt said. “I didn’t do my part today, I messed up, and it showed on the field today.

“Just as a whole, as a team, we weren’t together.”

Syracuse halfback Jerome Smith rushed for 125 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He led a rushing attack that ran for a total of 323 yards and accounted for both Syracuse scores.

The fans at least witnessed the unveiling of former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson’s jersey in the rafters of the Carrier Dome. McPherson, who won both the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards during his time at Syracuse, said this honor was not something he achieved alone.

Don McPherson (center, in tan sweater) poses for photos with
former teammates, coaches and his mother.

 

“How many Syracuse University players does it take to get a jersey that high?” McPherson asked while surrounded on the field by his former teammates. “All of them. These are the guys; this is the reason.”

Syracuse’s next game will be against N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C. The Orange doesn’t play in The Dome again until Nov. 2 against Wake Forest.

Tigers Give Syracuse Plenty to Worry About

October 3, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is in his 23rd year of coaching. So when he said Clemson’s receiving corps are the best combination of wideouts he has seen in a long time, it carries some weight. Speaking in the weekly installment of the ACC’s coaches’ teleconference, Shafer praised the group on […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is in his 23rd year of coaching. So when he said Clemson’s receiving corps are the best combination of wideouts he has seen in a long time, it carries some weight.

Speaking in the weekly installment of the ACC’s coaches’ teleconference, Shafer praised the group on Wednesday while talking about the upcoming game against the third-ranked Clemson Tigers.

Shafer said dealing with potential Heisman-winning quarterback Tajh Boyd is tough enough. But when you throw guys such as Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Germone Hopper, you have a potent offensive attack.

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen in a long time in college football,” Shafer said. “He can make all the throws, got a quick release, and they have a great offensive coordinator who understands their offense and taught kid really well how to play.”

Sammy Watkins is still the number-one option, with 355 yards on the season. But Bryant, Hopper and Watkins are tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions, with two apiece, for a Clemson team leading the nation in red-zone efficiency.

That is a lot of responsibility for a Syracuse secondary that most fans consider less than formidable.

Shafer is looking for senior cornerbacks Ri’Shard Anderson and Keon Lyn to lead the defensive effort.

“Keon’s been there, and Ri’Shard’s been there,” Shafer said. “They’ve gone against some of the best at times throughout their careers.

“Great challenge [for them]. We’ve just got to have a good
game plan to help them out a little bit here and there.”

The Syracuse defense currently ranks 48th in the nation in total defense, 15 spots above Clemson. That said, the Orange’s defensive stats have been padded by blowout victories against Wagner and Tulane.

Shafer was quick to point out that on the defensive side of the ball, Clemson is underrated. Shafer says Syracuse’s run-oriented style will have to prove its worth against them.

“You never know until you go in there and fight with people,” Shaffer said. “I like our running backs, and the offensive line continues to get better.

“I still believe, if we run the ball, we can play with
everybody.”

Jerome Smith, who six rushing touchdowns lead the ACC, will carry the bulk of the rushing offense for Syracuse.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head coach, says Smith could create some problems for his defense.

“That running back, number 45(Smith), he’s a load,” Swinney said. “He is a big, strong, physical back that you’re just going to tackle for four quarters because he just keeps coming.”

Swinney is also impressed with the way quarterback Terrel Hunt has played in the pocket and stays cool under pressure.

“They’ve given up only four sacks,” Swinney said. “Part of that is a function of what they do in their passing game.”

“That ball is out quick. A lot of quick gain. A lot of throws in rhythm. They’re not a big drop back, stand there, sit-in-the-pocket type of deal.”

So far this season, Hunt has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for two more. Eight of those touchdowns have come during the last two games.

Shafer said his sophomore quarterback needs to remember to approach this game like he would any other.

“He needs to continue to throw the ball to the guys who are open,” Shaffer said. He cites the fact that Hunt threw to 11 different receivers in the Tulane game, and hopes he will continue to see the field.

“We don’t want him to press, and we don’t want him to turn into anything more than a quarterback trying to be productive in this offensive
system,” Shafer said. “As long as he does that, we’ll have a shot.”

The kickoff time for the game is 3:30 p.m. This is the homecoming game for Syracuse this season. In last year’s homecoming, the team beat then ninth-ranked Louisville Cardinals, its last Big East regular-season home game.

The game will be televised regionally on ABC and nationally on ESPN2. Newhouse alum Sean McDonough will be calling the game.

A Less Than Ordinary Post-Game

September 24, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Following a dominant Syracuse 52-17 home victory over Tulane, there was a press conference, just like after any old football game.  However, this particular press conference was anything but normal. On the surface, there were plenty of reasons to praise the team.  The Orange excelled on the football field in all […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Following a dominant Syracuse 52-17 home victory over Tulane, there was a press conference, just like after any old football game.  However, this particular press conference was anything but normal.

On the surface, there were plenty of reasons to praise the team.  The Orange excelled on the football field in all three facets of the game.  The team scored touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions, jumping out to a commanding 21-3 lead.  The defense disrupted Tulane quarterback Nick Montana early and often, sacking him three times and intercepting him once.  On special teams, the Orange blocked two punts and a field goal.  It’s safe to say that the game was a confidence builder all around.

Another high point to mention was that Syracuse earned its 700th program win, a milestone that only about twenty other universities across the nation have achieved.  When asked about the accolade, Head Coach Scott Shafer joked that, “We’ve got a lot to do to catch Coach Boeheim.”  The atmosphere of the room was very laid back, very at ease.  We all laughed together.

But then, a question arose that changed the emotions of the entire press conference.

Someone asked about the Edson family.  Sue Edson is the assistant athletics director of communications at Syracuse, a job which she has held since 1997.  A week before Saturday’s game, Sue’s husband Rob died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45.  Rob Edson was serving as the athletic director at Onondaga Community College.  Before that, he’d been employed at Syracuse as the athletic department’s chief financial officer and senior associate director of athletics.  They have two children, Thomas and Tracey.

Unfortunately, I have not had the privilege of knowing Sue or her family intimately, and for that reason I do not feel qualified to speak on their lives.  What I do know is the feeling of somber respect that went through the room as Coach Shafer spoke about the family.  “We said we’re getting number two for Sue,” said Shafer.  For a group of young men to go out and perform the way they did, to play with such purpose and inspiration, proves that sports can have so much more meaning than competition or entertainment.  For a brief moment, it was about more than just football.

To listen to the full post-game interviews, click on the links below:

Coach Shafer
Terrel Hunt
Chris Clark
Prince-Tyson Gulley
Eric Crume

A Night of Fun, Games, and Intense Races with SU Rowers

September 22, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The rain was pouring. The boats were gliding. Laughter filled the air. Syracuse Rowers of the past and present came to the SU Boathouse on September 21st to celebrate the sport they all love so dearly. Alums in attendance at “An Evening at TenEyck” ranged from graduates of 2013 to as […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  The rain was pouring. The boats were gliding. Laughter filled the air.

Syracuse Rowers of the past and present came to the SU Boathouse on September 21st to celebrate the sport they all love so dearly. Alums in attendance at “An Evening at TenEyck” ranged from graduates of 2013 to as far back as 1950.

Everyone there was determined to not let the rain dampen the mood on an eventful night that included food, alumni races, and Syracuse Rowing Hall of Fame inductions.

The alumni races kicked off the event. A draw was created with one half being made of teams of 8 alumni rowers and a coxswain and the other half being made of teams of current rowers and their class (freshman, sophomore, etc.) who had faced off in preliminaries that morning. The winner of the alumni half of the draw would face the winner of the class half of the draw to determine the night’s winner.

Beth Marks, class of ’83 and the only woman on her alumni team, said she was just there to have a good time.

“It’s fun!” she said. “I haven’t been in a sweep (a boat in which each rower handles a single oar) though in a long time. Probably 25 years!”

Mike Gennaro, class of 2011, is a USA National Team member who won a Bronze medal at the World Championships this summer. He brought his game face to the event.

“It’s super competitive,” he said. “I’m not losing to any of these guys.”

As it turned out, Gennaro’s eight was edged by another alumni crew under the lights on the Onondaga Lake Inlet that night. The current senior class boat was the night’s overall winner.

Nobody seemed particularly bothered by the rain. In fact, most said they enjoyed rowing in the rain as it makes the water very flat.

“Rain without wind is okay,” Marks said. “It wasn’t pouring. It just makes the oars a little slippery to hold onto, but other than that it really doesn’t affect very much.”

While there was much excitement around the alumni races, the biggest part of the night was the Syracuse Rowing Hall of Fame inductions. The new inductees are the SU 1904 Team (SU’s first IRA National Champions), legendary coach James A. TenEyck, for whom the Syracuse boathouse (and thus the event) is named, Tom Darling (class of ’81), and Bill Purdy (class of ’79).

Drew Harrison, class of ’68, came from his home in British Columbia to be at the event and said the 1904 team was groundbreaking and set certain standards for everyone attending.

“Anyone who has been a champion in any era has to do extraordinary things,” he said.

Harrison coached three consecutive Syracuse freshman crews to national championships at the IRA in the 1970s.

For Darling and Purdy, there was the obvious feeling of honor for being chosen to be inducted, but also a definite amount of nerves.

“Syracuse (rowing) has got a long tradition behind it and I am incredibly honored to just be considered and then inducted,” said Purdy, a member of SU’s last IRA national championship eight in 1978.

“It feels good!” Darling, a 3-time Olympian (pictured right), said. “I feel very… grateful for being nominated! It’s a good chance to thank the coaches and to thank the guys that I worked with.”

It’s a sport that doesn’t have a true international celebrity. It’s a sport that doesn’t get a lot of media coverage. It’s a sport that only people who actually participate can understand.

The unified love of rowing is what brought these people back to the SU Boathouse where so many of their memories lie.

Tulane vs. Syracuse: In Photos

September 22, 2013

Syracuse cheerleaders warm up before kickoff.   The Syracuse University Marching Band. The game featured a moment of silence for the Edson family. Rob Edson passed away Sept. 14.   The Orange enter the Carrier Dome. Running back Prince-Tyson Gulley makes a play. Jerome Smith had two touchdowns against Tulane. Kicker Ryan Norton had an […]

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Syracuse cheerleaders warm up before kickoff.

 

The Syracuse University Marching Band.
The game featured a moment of silence for the Edson family.
Rob Edson passed away Sept. 14.

 

The Orange enter the Carrier Dome.
Running back Prince-Tyson Gulley makes a play.
Jerome Smith had two touchdowns against Tulane.
Kicker Ryan Norton had an excellent game against Tulane.
Cameron Lynch’s sack on Tulane QB Nick Montana temporarily
removed the QB from the game.

 

The Orange in the red zone.
Orange offense huddle up.
Jerome Smith (45) makes another touchdown.

 

Terrel Hunt (10) started as QB against Tulane.

 

Terrel Hunt led the offense on eight scoring drives.
Head coach Scott Shafer’s post-game press conference.
Quarterback Terrel Hunt at the post-game
press conference.

 

Nose tackle Eric Crume talks about a blocked punt.

 

Syracuse routs Tulane 52-17

September 21, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — For the first time since 1997, the Syracuse Orange scored 50 points in back-to-back games, routing the Tulane Green Wave, 52-17 Saturday, following last week’s shutout against Wagner. “Everyone that thought Wagner wasn’t a good team, so we were supposed to beat them—we just took that to this game so we could dominate every […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  For the first time since 1997, the Syracuse Orange scored 50 points in back-to-back games, routing the Tulane Green Wave, 52-17 Saturday, following last week’s shutout against Wagner.

“Everyone that thought Wagner wasn’t a good team, so we were supposed to beat them—we just took that to this game so we could dominate every chance we got,” said receiver Christopher Clark, who had four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

The Orange will enjoy a bye week before squaring off against Clemson Oct. 5 to enter ACC Conference play, but head coach Scott Shafer wants to make one thing clear: “I just want these guys to enjoy the win for the next 24 hours.”

In a game marked by impressive special teams play, up-tempo offense and improved defense, the Orange started with a bang. Terrel Hunt, who is solidifying his starting role as quarterback, led a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Smith. The Orange maintained that pace in the blowout win with eight scoring drives, seven of which resulted in touchdowns.

The Green Wave answered the Orange’s opening touchdown with a 21-yard field goal but the Orange maintained its opening-drive energy, which the Green Wave struggled to stop.

The Orange specials teams were especially impressive against Tulane. A blocked punt in the first quarter by Darius Kelly and another in the second quarter by Eric Crume marked the first time since 2004 that feat had been accomplished in the first half.

Between those blocks, Tulane’s Kedrick Banks fumbled Riley Dixon‘s 51-yard punt. The Orange recovered it at the Tulane 15-yard line; three plays later, Hunt scored a 16-yard rushing touchdown—the second of his career—to bring the Orange up 28-10 at the start of the second quarter.

But the biggest highlight of the first half was John Raymon‘s block of Cairo Santos‘—last year’s Lou Groza Award
winner—32-yard field goal, which ended Santos’ streak of 26 consecutive field
goals.

The Orange shut out the Tulane offense in the second half, aided in part by an intercepted ball from Tulane quarterback Nick Montana halfway through the third quarter. The ensuing drive saw Hunt connect
with Clay Cleveland on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Syracuse controlled the time of possession in the fourth quarter and added a late field goal with three minutes left on the clock to cement the win.

Offense, defense and special teams showed marked improvement and synchronization in the win over Tulane. “[It was a] team win,” Coach Shafer said. “We challenged the kids to win all three phases—and they did. I’m very proud of them.”

Hunt’s first career start was impressive. He was 16-of-21 for 175 yards, four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Smith and Cleveland each had a pair of touchdowns, while Ryan Norton was perfect on PAT kicks and the Orange’s lone field-goal attempt on the night.

“It feels great,” Hunt said at the post-game press conference. “I love the team. Defense was there. And our offense just moved, you know? It felt really amazing.”

The victory over Tulane marked the 700th win for the Syracuse Orange. Coach Shafer, who said he was unaware of the milestone. “It means we’re about 100 behind Boeheim, right? I didn’t even realize that, but it means a lot.”

ACC Week Four Preview

September 18, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Dabo Swinney and the third ranked Clemson Tigers head to Raleigh, North Carolina, to prepare for their Thursday night matchup with N.C. State. Coach Swinney stressed the necessity of establishing the run game early, especially with the Tigers second-leading receiver, Charone Peake, sidelined with a torn ACL. Junior wide out Adam […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Dabo Swinney and the third ranked Clemson Tigers head to Raleigh, North Carolina, to prepare for their Thursday night matchup with N.C. State. Coach Swinney stressed the necessity of establishing the run game early, especially with the Tigers second-leading receiver, Charone Peake, sidelined with a torn ACL. Junior wide out Adam Humphries will move into Peake’s position across from star receiver Sammy Watkins. N.C. State Coach Dave Doeren has never coached a Thursday night game at Carter-Finley Stadium, but looks for the home crowd to help the team seize the opportunity. Both the Tigers and the Wolfpack are undefeated at 2-0. Neither team has played on the road yet this season, nor has either faced an ACC opponent. The contest starts at 7:30 PM and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Saturday night pits two more undefeated teams against each other as Bethune-Cookman travels to Doak Campbell Stadium to meet Florida State. The Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman stand atop the MEAC with a 3-0 record, coming off a 34-13 road win over Florida International. The Seminoles are ranked eighth in this week’s national poll and will be heavily favored at home. One of the biggest stories for FSU is the emergence of freshman kicker Roberto Aguayo, who is a perfect 17 for 17 on extra points and field goals through two games but has yet to be tested from long distance. Coach Jimbo Fisher expressed the utmost confidence in Aguayo. Kickoff is set for 6 PM Saturday night.

The 3-0 Maryland Terrapins will host Big 12 rival West Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Terrapin Head Coach Randy Edsall emphasized the leadership of linebacker Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, especially in the locker room and off the field. Cudjoe-Virgil is a transfer from Seton Hill University, giving away his scholarship to walk on at Maryland. The game will be televised on ESPNU Saturday at 3:30 PM.

Coming off of a 54-0 blowout victory over Wagner at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse prepares to host the Green Wave of Tulane this Saturday. This game marks the first career start for sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt for the Orange . Coach Scott Shafer made the decision to award Hunt the starting job over Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen after he threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns last Saturday. Both teams enter the matchup with 1-2 records. Kickoff is set for 12:30 PM Saturday.

Wake Forest takes a 1-2 record to West Point this Saturday to battle Army. After winning their home opener comfortably against Presbyterian, the Demon Deacons lost to Boston College on the road and then suffered a heartbreaking two-point home loss against Louisiana-Monroe. Head Coach Jim Grobe looks for his hard-nosed defense, ranked 28th in the nation in points allowed, to hold strong against the Black Knights offensive attack. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network beginning at noon Saturday.

Another all ACC matchup this weekend sees North Carolina coming into Bobby Dodd Stadium to take on Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have been electric in their first two games this season, scoring a total of 108 points and rushing for an average of 356 yards a game. Coach Paul Johnson has implemented a variation of the shotgun that he calls the diamond formation to confuse defenses as to whether the Yellow Jackets will pass or run. The Tar Heels come into this game well rested from a bye week. Head Coach Larry Fedora says that the extra week has helped prepare his defense for the Jackets infamous option read style offense. The game will air at noon Saturday on ESPN.

The final head-to-head ACC contest of week four is Pittsburgh at Duke. The Panthers take a 1-1 record into Saturday’s game, and the Blue Devils sit at 2-1. Pittsburgh’s defense is anchored by senior defensive lineman Aaron Donald, whose pass rushing abilities have been drawing frequent double-teams this season. Donald is a Pittsburgh native, and Coach Paul Chryst stressed just how key his role will be in the success of the Panther defense. On the flip side, the Blue Devils and Head Coach David Cutcliffe bring a run centered offense to the table, with four different backs getting more than ten carries through their first three games. Quarterbacks Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone have split the workload thus far. Both can hurt the opponent through the air or on the ground. The game kicks off at 12:30 PM Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Frank Beamer’s Hokies host the Thundering Herd of Marshall this weekend. Both teams enter the game with 2-1 records, Virginia Tech’s only loss coming in their season opener against number one Alabama. Coach Beamer had nothing but good things to say about freshman corner Brandon Facyson, who is shining early with three interceptions in three games. The Hokie defense will be tested against the Thundering Herd offense that has put up at least 30 points in each of its first three games (12th overall in points scored). The battle is set to begin at noon Saturday on ESPNU.

The 1-1 Virginia Cavaliers host in-state Big South opponent VMI in week four. UVA won a tight week one game over BYU before being routed in week two by Oregon. Coach Mike London says he wants to stretch the field out more this week and look to go vertical with the ball to give his talented receivers a chance to make a play. VMI brings a 1-2 record into Scott Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:30 PM on Saturday.

Miami has jumped up to number 16 in the AP polls this week coming off a bye week after an impressive win over Florida on Sept. 7. The Hurricanes are 2-0 and a 60 point favorite over visiting Savannah State this weekend. Coach Al Golden says his boys won’t be holding anything back, taking their schedule week by week and focusing on each team. Saturday at 7:00 PM is kickoff time at Sun Life Stadium.

Steve Addazio and Boston College have a bye week this week and will face ACC opponent Florida State on Saturday, Sept. 28. Both Syracuse and Virginia Tech are vying for their 700th program win this weekend.

To listen to the full ACC mid-week teleconference on 9/18/13 featuring all of the head coaches, click here

SU Defeats Wagner in Home Opener

September 14, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Coach Scott Shafer earned his first win as head coach of the Syracuse Football team in its 54-0 win over the Wagner Seahawks on Saturday afternoon. The Orange were first led on offense by quarterback Drew Allen. However, halfway through the first quarter the switch was made to sophomore quarterback […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center)  Coach Scott Shafer earned his first win as head coach of the Syracuse Football team in its 54-0 win over the Wagner Seahawks on Saturday afternoon.

The Orange were first led on offense by quarterback Drew Allen. However, halfway through the first quarter the switch was made to sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt. The presence of Hunt on the field ignited a spark that had been absent in the starting offensive drives. Syracuse developed a smooth offensive rhythm that led the team to its first win of the season.

“Go in there and play,” is the message Hunt said he delivered to his teammates once he took the field. “I just went in there in the huddle and started joking around. Let them know I’m comfortable about doing this,” Hunt said. “Just go in there and have fun.”

The sophomore quarterback had a completion percentage of .833 against the Seahawks leading the offense to score six touchdowns in the first three quarters of the game.

“It felt great,” Hunt said. “That’s what you wanna do, you don’t wanna go out there and get a three and out. It felt like I was in the flow of the game, everything was connected.”

Ryan Norton’s field goal early in the first quarter gave the Orange its first lead 3-0, after Junior Linebacker, Dyshawn Davis recovered a Wagner fumble on the 18-yard line.

The Syracuse defense continued to apply pressure to the Wagner offense early in the first quarter when Jay Bromley sacked Wagner quarterback, Matt Misley, causing him to fumble the ball on the Seahawks 10-yard line that resulted in a 13-yard loss and forcing the Seahawks to punt.

The energy in the dome rose as Terrel Hunt took the field as quarterback in place of Drew Allen who was 3 of 6 passing in Syracuse’s first 3 drives.

In Hunt’s first drive he moved the offense 68-yards down the field where Jerome Smith rushed into the end-zone from the Wagner 2-yard line with 2:23 left in the 1st quarter, giving the Orange a 9-0 lead. Norton missed the extra point.

At the start of the second quarter the atmosphere in the Carrier Dome transitioned from low-energy to electric when Hunt completed a 42-yard pass to Jarrod West that placed the Orange on the Seahawks 22-yard line. Hunt then completed a sideline pass to Prince-Tyson Gulley for a 13-yard touchdown giving Gulley his second touchdown of the season.

With 9:14 left in the 2nd quarter, the offensive momentum did not wear down. Hunt using his feet to keep the play alive led the offense on a 59-yard move down the field that resulted in a nearly untouched, 8-yard rushing touchdown by Jerome Smith.

The energy in the Carrier Dome exploded in the middle of the second quarter when running back, Devante McFarlane, scored from 3 yards out to bring the Orange up 30-0 against the Seahawks.

The Syracuse defense meanwhile shut down the Wagner offense throughout the entire first half. For six consecutive possessions, Wagner was unable to move the ball and forced to punt each time giving the Syracuse offense more opportunities to make plays happen.

Late in the first half there was a breakdown in the Seahawk coverage. Chris Clark got behind the secondary andHunt launched a deep pass to him for a 41-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 37-0. The Syracuse offense entered the locker room at the end of the first half with a total of 338 offensive yards compared the Seahawks’ 30.

The Syracuse defense ended up with the ball one last time to end the first half. Wagner committed its second turnover of the game when linebacker Cameron Lynch picked off a Matt Misley pas and returned it 47 yards.

Taking the field of the Carrier Dome after half time, the Orange defense returned in full force allowing the Wagner offense to gain only seven yards in its first possession of the half.

The Seahawks managed to hold the Orange to a field goal after a 28-yard drive on the first possession of the second half. Ryan Norton hit from 32 yards to put Syracuse up 40-0.

The Carrier Dome erupted during the offense’s next possession as Hunt sent a deep pass down the center of the field, 65-yards, to Jarrod West who carried it into the end zone, widening the Orange’s lead 47-0.

The Seahawk offense continued to battle the Orange defense, but fell short when Syracuse strong safety, Durell Eskridge, intercepted a pass thrown by Misley returning the ball 11 yards to the Wagner 34-yard line.

Drew Allen then returned to field to lead the Syracuse offense on another scoring drive which was capped off with a 4-yard pass to Chris Clark in the end zone.

The score remained for the entirety of the fourth quarter 54-0 with neither team reaching the end zone giving the Orange its first win of the season.

“It felt good,” Shafer said of the win. “It feels great, let’s get number two as fast as possible.”

Syracuse will host Tulane Saturday, September 21 at 12:30.p.m and the on October 5 will face its first ACC opponent, Clemson, at home in the Carrier Dome.

The Brief Quarterback Debate

September 14, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The fifth-year senior transfer or redshirt sophomore? That is the question students, faculty, fans, and the local media have been asking. After two dismal performances to start the season, senior Drew Allen found himself on the hot seat. With a touchdown to interception ration of 1:6, you can’t blame Orange Nation […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — The fifth-year senior transfer or redshirt sophomore? That is the question students, faculty, fans, and the local media have been asking. After two dismal performances to start the season, senior Drew Allen found himself on the hot seat. With a touchdown to interception ration of 1:6, you can’t blame Orange Nation seeking answers.

Terrel Hunt, the 20-year old from Queens, led the first team during spring drills and split time with Allen for most of training camp. He was considered the early front-runner by most accounts. Head Coach Scott Shafer revealed recently to The Daily Orange that he spoke with Hunt during summer and told him Allen would be the number one quarterback. The dilemma? Hunt would have to keep it a secret for two weeks before the season got under way versus Penn State. A classic chess match with an opposing head coach.

Allen, who had a handful of schools to choose from, transferred from Oklahoma and came to Syracuse knowing he would have a legitimate shot to run the offense. So far, it had been nearly unwatchable for the Orange faithful.

After SU was dismantled at the hands of #19 Northwestern, the debate heated up. Stay with the struggling Allen or bring in the young gun, Hunt? Quarterbacks coach Tim Lester told reporters earlier in the week the plan was to play both QBs versus Wagner.

To start the home opener, Allen went 3 for 6, for a combined negative one-yard. After three consecutive three and outs (and a gift field goal, due to a Wagner fumble deep in its own territory) the crowd grew restless and began to boo.

On the fourth offensive possession, Terrel Hunt ran on with the first unit to the delight of the crowd. He led a 68-yard drive, completing all three passes for 30 yards and a heavy dose of handoffs to running back Jerome Smith. With eight rushing attempts for 31 yards, Smith capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, while the quarterback jumped in excitement and congratulated his offensive line.

It appeared that the Hunt Era had officially begun.

The very next drive Hunt unleashed a 42-yard bomb to Jarrod West. A quick check down pass to Prince-Tyson Gulley resulted in a 13-yard touchdown, the first of Hunt’s career at the Carrier Dome. The home crowd was lively again, while Drew Allen’s collegiate career as a starter might have come to an abrupt end.

During the media session earlier this week, Hunt was asked if Coach Shafer would implement a dual quarterback system, similar to Northwestern’s offense.

“I’m not really sure,” Hunt answered. “He said to us before, if I got to play one, I got to play one. If I got to play two, I got to play two.”

He continued expressing his desire to lead the team.

“Selfishly, you want to play one, you want to be that guy. But if you have to play two it’s for the team, so you do what’s best.”

The Orange cruised to a 37 point first half lead and never looked back, winning 54-0. Hunt was in control and looked poised under center, scrambling when necessary; making plays with his feet that his predecessor simply could not.

Syracuse plays at home the next two games. First the Orange faces Tulane, then a bye week, followed by the #3 ranked Clemson Tigers, in SU’s first ACC matchup of the 2013 season.

Two divisions create the newly aligned Atlantic Coast Conference.

Atlantic Coastal
Wake Forest   Duke
South Carolina   Georgia Tech
Maryland   University of Miami
Florida State   University of North Carolina
Boston College   Pittsburgh
Clemson   Virginia
Syracuse   Virginia Tech

 

Stay tuned to Newhouse Sports Media Center for the latest collegiate action at SU.

SU Football is Ready For Home Opener Against Wagner

September 12, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Drew Allen will start this weekend in the home opener against Wagner, but Terrel Hunt will also make an early appearance in Saturday’s game, according to head coach Scott Shafer. Hunt, who had a 15-yard run to record his first career touchdown last weekend against Northwestern, will take the field early […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Drew Allen will start this weekend in the home opener against Wagner, but Terrel Hunt will also make an early appearance in Saturday’s game, according to head coach Scott Shafer.

Hunt, who had a 15-yard run to record his first career touchdown last weekend against Northwestern, will take the field early to lead the Syracuse offense. Coach Shafer thinks it’s important to get both players into the game to improve the quarterback position.

“The position hasn’t been consistent enough,” said Shafer during Thursday’s press conference. “We’re looking for consistency.”

In last weekend’s game against Northwestern, Shafer saw good things on the field from Allen, who had a 66-percent completion rate, but it was the number of turnovers that hurt the team’s offense.

This week, the Orange are focusing on a number of target areas, which include protecting the ball better on offense. Every week the objectives for the team change, but certain areas remain consistent for the team, including:

· On the first down: gain four or more yards, sixty percent of the time
· Taking advantage of the third down by controlling the number of plays it takes to get to the first down.

After a week of focusing on their target areas, Shafer said the Orange are ready to play in the Dome for the first time this season.

“The kids are excited to get home,” said Shafer. “Let’s get the student body out there and enjoy playing in front of your friends on campus, as well as the community.”

The players are not the only ones excited to face the Seahawks, Shafer says he is also ready for Saturday’s game.

“From a personal point of view, I’m really excited to give the fans something they appreciate,” said Shafer. “I just look forward to it, I couldn’t be more excited for this one.”

ACC Midweek Press Conference

September 12, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Leading up to this weekend’s football home opener, the ACC held its weekly teleconference with each head coach. The Syracuse Orange (0-2) take on the Wagner Seahawks (1-1) in a interstate matchup. The hot topic this week surrounds the quarterback position. Drew Allen, the fifth-year transfer from Oklahoma, has started both […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — Leading up to this weekend’s football home opener, the ACC held its weekly teleconference with each head coach. The Syracuse Orange (0-2) take on the Wagner Seahawks (1-1) in a interstate matchup. The hot topic this week surrounds the quarterback position. Drew Allen, the fifth-year transfer from Oklahoma, has started both games with inconsistent play. Sophomore Terrel Hunt, who was thought to be the front-runner during training camp, is expected to play more significant time on Saturday.

Below are press highlights from Syracuse coach, Scott Shafer.

Q. I know you’ve been asked a lot about your quarterbacks. With Drew, the way he played in the first two games, have you been able to pinpoint in watching the tape why he’s had some of the struggles he’s had?

SHAFER: With Drew, first thing is, we had two good opponents in Penn State and Northwestern. He got thrown to the wolves early, which is in the long run is going to be a good thing.

I was pleased with his increased completion rate. I think he was 66% in the Northwestern game. Biggest thing with Drew, he’s got to eliminate the turnovers. Sometimes he’ll get locked in on a target. He’s just got to do a better job checking down. When things are muddy, he has to go down to the check-down, get the ball out of the backfield, not try to force things.

Q. I’m wondering if going into this week there’s anything you say to Drew so he doesn’t play with any sort of feeling pressure?

SHAFER: I think more than anything, it’s just getting into the flow of the game, trust his eyes, go play, have fun, enjoy the process. I think any time you have a player at any position that is trying hard to continue to improve in his game, you want to make sure that his focus isn’t so tight and narrow that he’s not playing with the flow of the game.

Q. Obviously you’re off to a tough start. Given the opponents you played, people wouldn’t expect you to be off to a much better start. Are you where you thought you would be at this point in the season?

SHAFER: I have to look at all the different pieces and parts that make up the formula. We played poorly, especially coming out of the first half against Northwestern. Some of the things we need to continue to focus on is, first and foremost, the turnover ratio. We’re sitting at minus three. You can’t win a lot of games when you’re at minus three. We need to get in the plus category. That’s been a focus last week as well as this week.

Q. The thought process after the Northwestern game, how seriously did you consider starting Terrel and how did you get to the ultimate decision where you wanted to give Drew another shot to start against Wagner?

SHAFER: We went through it. For me it was, Let’s take a look at who we have playing, what areas we have to improve on. Are they areas we feel any player could improve upon? In his situation, I felt strongly that he could definitely do that.

But I also feel good about the fact that Terrel went in and did a good job, played well. I liked his approach and attitude. Both guys will be ready to play this weekend.

Q. Considering Wagner is an FCS team, does that factor into the decision at all?

SHAFER: No. We have a team coming off a championship season and broke records. Regardless of where they’re at, a championship team is a championship team. We need to approach it the same way we would any solid football team we’re going against.

Q. Recap the last two games. What do you need to work on this Saturday against Wagner?

SHAFER: We have to look at turnover ratio, both offense and defense, and strive towards trying to get on the plus side. We’re at minus three. I’d love to come out of the Wagner game and be at plus one or better and feel good about that offensively. Then defensively eliminating the big play.

That’s been our focus this week on both sides of the ball, and we’re looking forward to reaching our objective against Wagner.

Q. What do you see in Wagner in the video? What type of team are they on the field?

SHAFER: They’re a team that plays extremely hard on both sides of the ball. They’re a team that has some returning veterans that were part of a storied season, winning their conference championship in 2012. They put up 35 points a game on offense right now. They have a running back that’s averaging over 200 yards a game in Dominique Williams. They have a quarterback that is mobile, can both throw and run, and can create plays to be extended with his feet.

Catch the action Saturday, when the Syracuse Orange face the Wagner Seahawks.

The game will air live on ESPN3, from the Carrier Dome, at 4 PM EST.

Getting Paid To Do What You Love

August 12, 2013

SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — He had one of the best seats in NBT Bank Stadium right behind home plate. At first glance you might suspect him to be just an overly enthusiastic fan, notebook in hand, jotting down every play and statistic. Dan Bondgren is not just a fan of baseball; he is also […]

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SYRACUSE (Newhouse Sports Media Center) — He had one of the best seats in NBT Bank Stadium right behind home plate.

At first glance you might suspect him to be just an overly enthusiastic fan, notebook in hand, jotting down every play and statistic.

Dan Bondgren is not just a fan of baseball; he is also an employee of Baseball Info Solutions—a company that specializes in collecting, interpreting, and disseminating baseball statistics.

Baseball Info Solutions assigns a group of employees to cover Double-A or Triple-A teams.

Dan’s assignment is to attend the Syracuse Chiefs game.

“There are a group of us that work for each team,” Bondgren said. “There are nine of us that work for Chiefs games. Two every day.”

For Bondgren this is just a part time job, he says he has another job that isn’t related to baseball.

Bondgren found the job listed on Craiglist three years ago.

Getting paid to watch baseball games as a part-time job is pretty nice, Bondgren said.

“You get a free ticket, they pay for the parking, and you make a couple bucks a game,” Bondgren said. “There are a lot of worse things that I could be doing.”

He wouldn’t reveal how much the company pays him to attend each game though.

During Chiefs games he rarely has time to put his clipboard down because of all the data he is collecting on the game, Bondgren said.

“We keep stats for minor league games that get uploaded into a computer so that if scouts or major league teams want to know the ins and outs of a player, and what they can do in certain situations they pretty much have it at their disposal,” Bondgren said.

After each game, he goes home and enters the information into a computer application that the company sets up.

Bondgren says, after he puts the information in, he is still amazed with how it is compiled.

The information they gather is not open to the public, Bondgren said.

“This stuff is bought by Major League teams,” Bondgren said. “Whether they take a pitch on the first pitch, or they swing at it. What kind of opposite field power they have. That stuff is up for sale to the highest bidder from this company.”

Syracuse Chiefs Fanatic

While he gets paid to attend almost every single game, he also knows a lot about the Chiefs as well, Bondgren said.

“Well I said it for the last three years, the team has a lot of great assets,” Bondgren said. “the Chiefs have no middle relievers. Their starting pitching is good. They have some decent fielders. Some good bats. But they cannot find ways to finish games.”

Before he worked with Baseball Info Solutions, Bondgren says he was always a huge fan of the Syracuse Chiefs.

He even managed to cheer for the Chiefs whenever he had the chance.

Even though the team is in last place, Bondgren says he is grateful for the job and will continue to work for Baseball Info Solutions as long as he can.

To view his company’s website click here: http://www2.baseballinfosolutions.com/about-us/