Page 1

Northwestern AT Syracuse

IN THE

September 18-20, 2009

?

Third time’s the charm

PAGE 3 Northwestern preview PAGE 8-9 Depth charts and predictions PAGE 5 Scouting report from Jim McKenzie

A publication of


ga m eday w eek e n d

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sports Briefs

We ather today

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tomorrow

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sunday

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sports schedule FOOTBALL Sept. 19 vs. Northwestern 7 p.m., Carrier Dome FIELD HOCKEY Sept. 18 @ University of Louisville 4 p.m., Louisville, Ky. Sept. 19 @ University of Michigan 3 p.m., Louisville, Ky.

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MEN’S SOCCER Sept. 18 vs. Seton Hall 7 p.m., SU Soccer Stadium WOMEN’S SOCCER Sept. 18 @ St. John’s 5 p.m., Jamaica, N.Y. VOLLEYBALL Sept. 18 vs. William and Mary

Former Kentucky coach found not guilty in player’s death David Stinson, a former high school football coach in Kentucky, was found not guilty Thursday in the death of a player who collapsed during practice after the team conducted a series of sprints during the summer. Fifteen-year-old Max Gilpin collapsed in August 2008 after the sprints and died three days later in a Louisville hospital. During the trail, several other players testified to teammates becoming sick during the sprints that were originally used as punishment.

Illinois linebacker out for season, to have neck surgery Illinois starting middle linebacker Martez Wilson will be forced to miss the rest of the season due to a herniated disk in his neck. Wilson will have surgery to fix the problem at a later date. Wilson has the option of a redshirt year, which would leave him with two years of eligibility. — Compiled by Meredith Galante , managing editor

daily orange file photo jim boeheim won his first national championship thanks in large part to former SU star Carmelo Anthony. Syracuse will retire Anthony’s jersey this year.

Syracuse to retire Carmelo Anthony’s No. 15 jersey By Conor Orr Sep. 17, 2009 2:38 p.m. Just got word that Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse basketball team plans to retire Carmelo Anthony’s jersey. Boeheim told a reporter from NBAFanhouse that the team is waiting for a game that works with Anthony’s NBA schedule in order to hold the official ceremony. According to university policy, the team only retires jerseys, not numbers. So, technically there could be another No. 15 in the future, although Boeheim said it’s not likely. ‘Melo joins the ranks of Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, Billy Gabor, Billy Owens, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, Rony Seikaly, and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, whose jerseys all hang from the Carrier Dome. The former Orange star will be in Syracuse next Thursday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Carmelo K. Anthony Center next to Manley Field House. ctorr@ syr.edu

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Breakout

court hathaway | staff photographer greg paulus (center) and delone carter (right) are looking to lead Syracuse to its first win of the season Saturday against Northwestern in the Carrier Dome. It would also mark the first victory of Doug Marrone’s (LEFT) tenure as head coach.

After 2 straight losses, Marrone, Syracuse return home seeking 1st win By Matt Ehalt

A

Staff Writer

nthony Perkins can sense how close Syracuse is to breaking through the wall that separates victory and defeat. Though the wall has held for two games, the senior defensive tackle is starting to see it crumble. “I feel like we’re right there at the wall and we keep hitting it and it’s cracking, and people are seeing that,” said Perkins, a defensive tackle. “Sooner or later we’re going to punch right through that wall, and you’re going to see there it is. That’s when people are going to say, ‘Wow there it is. That’s what they were working for.’” For Perkins and the Syracuse football team, the chance to deliver that knockout blow to the wall presents itself once again this Saturday, as SU hosts Northwestern at 7 p.m. (TW26) in the Carrier Dome. After the Orange (0-2) failed to pick up wins its first two games against Big Ten opponents, SU will see if the third time is the charm, and try to avenge a 30-10 loss at Northwestern last year. “We just want to go out and win,” Perkins said. “I’ve been here for going on four years now, and I haven’t won that much. I just want to win no matter what, at all costs. I just want to win.”

Though the squad has made improvements in its first two games under new head coach Doug Marrone, the one statistic that matters the most has yet to appear in any box score: a win. Improvement or no improvement, wins are what count come bowl season. SU certainly had chances in its opening game against Minnesota, taking a 20-17 lead late into the fourth quarter, but a costly interception in overtime allowed the Golden Gophers to escape with a 23-20 victory. Last weekend in State College, Pa., against then-No. 7 Penn State, the Syracuse defense played valiantly enough to give the Orange a chance to win the game. But the offense faltered, and SU suffered a 28-7 defeat. “I think we were ripe for a win in the first game. I felt we were ripe for one with the plan we had going into the second one. I know that it’s important for our players to go out there and win a football game,” Marrone said. “I think it would help this football team to go out and win. We preach it all the time. We expect them to go out and win every time we play and that’s what I tell the players.” SU may be a victim of tough scheduling. While other Big East teams have been playing against weaker Division I-AA opponents, the Orange has opened with two games against Big Ten squads and will extend that

streak to three when Northwestern visits. All three schools also played in bowl games last year. “Every other team in the conference is playing cupcake teams,” nose tackle Art Jones said. “They get their wins, but we’re Syracuse. We don’t do it like that. I’m excited. I played against the best competition I will all year in the center at Penn State. He’ll be a first-round draft pick. “I thought we were in the Big Ten conference for a while with all these teams we’re playing. I’m ready to play and ready to get after it.” Though Saturday may seem like a great chance to pick up a validating win against a Big Ten program, the players are downplaying the importance of trying to win one game in the three-game gauntlet. “It’s always important to get a victory. Period,” left guard Ryan Bartholomew said. “It doesn’t matter who you get it off. I don’t care who we play. We could play a high school team. We could go down to Henninger (High School) and play. We need a win. A win’s a win.” So in comes Northwestern, the weakest of the three Big Ten teams. The Wildcats barely squeezed out a 27-24 win over Eastern Michigan at home last Saturday to improve to 2-0 on the season. This is their first road game of the season. see northwestern page 10

3


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fan Perspectives by tony olivero | asst. copy editor

If Northwestern is outside Chicago, why is it called ‘Northwestern?’

“I know it’s in Chicago because my uncle went there. They probably call it Northwestern because they are confused, because they didn’t get a Syracuse education. They don’t know where they are.”

Conor Kirchner

Graduate Student in the Law School

Maybe they call it that because it’s in the northwest part of Chicago, but my first thought Adam Uretsky was that it was in Massachusetts. Junior Marketing major That’s where Northeastern is.

It is in Chicago, I know that. My best guess is it’s in the northwest sector of the city of Chicago.

Amanda Ohakam

junior Information technology major

I know it’s near Chicago because my dad took a couple of classes there. I don’t know, maybe they call it that because it is farther west of Northeastern. JoBeth Dunsmoor

senior Communication & rhetorical studies major

I think it’s in Chicago. I know it’s in Illinois anyways. So when they created the university, perhaps they founded it at the time when it was the Northwest part of the United States. That’s something I have always wondered. Eric Lecours

junior Political science & philosophy major

Because it’s northwest of Northeastern. Pauline Lombardo

Sophomore Music composition major


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Scouting NU with Jim McKenzie

5

By Tyler Dunne Staff Writer

This Saturday, you might notice Jim McKenzie. But you probably won’t. The life of an offensive linemen isn’t glamorous. But McKenzie’s job goes far beyond snapping a ball and blocking a lineman. Like most centers, he’s the point man for Syracuse’s entire blocking scheme. The job requires plenty of preparation and plenty of on-the-fly execution. McKenzie models himself after Kevin Mawae, the Tennessee Titans’ all-pro center who was coached by Doug Marrone with the New York Jets. Mawae knows every defensive look he’ll face before it happens, McKenzie said. And that’s his goal. McKenzie studies film constantly. He looks to see if linebackers are on their heels or toes and if that tendency hints at which gap they shoot through. Every player gives off a clue. This week, McKenzie has the task of handling Northwestern defensive tackle Corbin Bryant. Here’s a window into the job of a center:

The Daily Orange: Who do you expect to line up against Saturday? McKenzie: They run a 40-type defense with four down linemen. So generally I’ll go up against a nose guard, which is a majority of the game, or the “three” technique. They switch depending on the strength of our formation. Usually, the two interior defensive tackles are the ones I’m responsible for blocking. And the two guards are responsible for blocking them in any type of double-team or single-team deal. Generally, the three of us are responsible for those two down linemen and possibly a linebacker or safety depending on what happens. Who did you primarily go against last year against Northwestern? McKenzie: I forget his name, but I went against a nose tackle that graduated last year. They moved a defensive end down to the nose tackle spot, Corbin Bryant. He’ll probably be the nose I’ll be going up against. What do you know about Bryant? McKenzie: He was a good player last year and is obviously quick having played D-end. He’s quick, has good hands and is kind of a read guy. He tries not to go vertical as much as seeing where the play is going. He gets his hands in and reacts. Is this a different style than what you’ve seen in the past? McKenzie: Basically, there are three different guys you can go against. There are giant noses, 320, 340-type guys that are just space-fillers that are just trying to not let you move them at all. Then there are the quick, vertical type guys that are just trying to get penetration and disrupt your plays. South Florida is a very good example of that. And

court hathaway | staff photographer jim mckenzie anchors Syracuse’s offensive line as the center. SU has struggled this season to protect quarterback Greg Paulus. then the third type is the read-and-react type linemen. Generally, the majority are that way. How much of a challenge is it to snap the ball and then block? McKenzie: It’s a very tricky thing that can be a problem if you’re not careful. You have to make sure you’re comfortable being able to snap and step. You have to know what you’re doing because that snap, step and run needs to happen on instinct. You can’t be thinking too much. That’s why you need great film preparation. What do you see on Bryant after watching film? McKenzie: Their goal is going to be to take up both me and my guard so they can free up their linebackers, and they have a strong linebacker front. So he’ll try to hold us up, disrupt us, so we’re not able to block the ‘Mike’ (middle linebacker). So ideally, you or a guard will be able to handle Bryant one-on-one?

McKenzie: Exactly, that’s the idea. We want to be able to get a push off the line of scrimmage, but we also want to make that block on the second level and that’s when you see those big plays happen. Is it tough to make all the blocking calls at the line and execute something complex like this? McKenzie: Like coach says, you go through a Rolodex in your head. You have to know what the play is, obviously, and know where your tight end is. You read where the Mike is, where the safeties are and figure out your blocking scheme. It takes a while. That’s why offensive line is a position you need to develop physically and mentally. A lot of times these linemen that come in as freshmen probably aren’t strong enough physically, but often times it’s the mental aspect of things that really inhibits them from playing. Has there been a player on your scout team that has played the role of Bryant this week? McKenzie: Yeah, we have Ollie Haney and

Jarel Lowrey as the two interior guys. They do a great job for us. They’ll watch film on (Northwestern) and then mimic them in practice on scout team. They do a great job at that, and that’s the key. If we get a great look and can block it during the week, then it makes the game easy. They’re working hard, and we’re getting a real good feel for this run game. How much did going against Penn State last week help for this week? McKenzie: We probably won’t see a defensive front as dominant as that one. We had some great challenges. Reviewing the film, we realized there were a lot of little technical mistakes that we made that could have opened up a lot of plays. …Going from that to Northwestern — Northwestern is a good defensive front, don’t get me wrong — but they’re no Penn State. That’s for sure. thdunne@syr.edu


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Quick hit statistics

Northwestern

Syracuse

37 19

13.5 25.5

RUSHING YARDS GAINED PER GAME

203

77.5

PASSING YARDS GAINED PER GAME

211

151

414

228.5

RUSHING YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME

118.5

95

PASSING YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME

144

244

262.5

339

POINTS PER GAME POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME

TOTAL OFFENSIVE YARDS PER GAME

TOTAL YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME

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CROUSE-HINDS THEATER AT CIVIC CENTER

Oncenter Box Office 435-2121 Famous Artists 424-8210 800-745-3000 THE SHOW CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND ADULT THEMES AND MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR EVERYONE. ‘AVENUE Q’ HAS NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED IN ANY MANNER BY THE JIM HENSON COMPANY OR SESAME WORKSHOP, WHICH HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS CONTENT.

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Northwestern 30, Syracuse 10

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7

Last time they played Syracuse blows 2nd-half lead in season-opener Syracuse started off last year’s season-opener against Northwestern with a 30-10 loss on Aug. 30, 2008 in Evanston, Ill. A 10- play, 63-yard drive capped off by a Pat Shadle field goal gave SU fans hope that 2008 might be different. However, the Orange stumbled hard in the second quarter, surrendering a safety to the Wildcats and never regaining its composure. Following the score, Wildcat quarterback C.J. Bacher hit Jeremy Ebert on a 16-yard touchdown pass to put the team up, 9-3, heading into halftime. The Wildcats’ defense stymied the Orange rushing attack ­— the unit that would develop into SU’s strongest attribute — by shutting down Curtis Brinkley to the tune of 49 total

yards. Backup Delone Carter didn’t fare much better, registering a mere 45 yards and no touchdowns. In his only start of the season, quarterback Andrew Robinson wasn’t able to get things moving, either. Despite completing passes to eight different wide receivers, none of them were for more than 20 yards or for touchdowns. Cam Dantley took over at quarterback for the rest of the year. Coming out in the third quarter, then-head coach Greg Robinson thought the game was still winnable for the Orange after a 2-yard Brinkley touchdown run put the team up by one. “I really felt like that first half and even into the third quarter, I thought, ‘Hey, we’re playing like I kind of expected us to,’” Robinson said following the game. “It was really a nip and tuck game for a while there.” But Andrew Robinson’s woes under center eventually came back to haunt the team, after he threw an interception that doomed the Orange for good. After giving up a touchdown pass the drive before, Syracuse tried to answer with a score

of its own. But Robinson’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Smith and returned 26 yards for a score. “When we got the setback and got the interception, I think that - I hate to say it deflates you,” Greg Robinson said. “...I thought right there was when we needed to respond, and I don’t think we got what we needed.” Northwestern - which would go on to a 9-3 record in 2008 - delivered the knockout blow shortly into the fourth quarter to put the Orange away for good. A two-yard touchdown pass from Bacher to Josh Rooks sealed the

Orange’s fate and set the tone for a dismal season to come. In just three hours, the Wildcats were able to put up 30 points on the Orange, while outgaining SU by a total of 484-225. It would take the Orange three more games until it got its first win of the season, a narrow 30-21 victory over Northeastern. The team stumbled to a 3-9 record in 2008 with just one conference win and sunk the program to its eighth consecutive year without a winning season. - Compiled by asst. sports editor Conor Orr


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NORTHWESTERN AT SYRACUSE

KEY MATCHUPS Smith and the rest of the defense have bottled up Minnesota’s Duane Bennett and Penn State’s Evan Royster in Syracuse’s two games. The speedy Simmons, who averages 181.5 allpurpose yards per contest, could be in for a long day.

DERRELL SMITH LB

Saturday, 7 p.m., TW26

STEPHEN SIMMONS RB Thomas has been the Wildcats’ best D-lineman with two tackles-for-loss and a sack this season. Bartholomew and center Jim McKenzie needs to contain him to give quarterback Greg Paulus and the Syracuse rushing game room to breathe.

RYAN BARTHOLOMEW OG

24

MARSHALL THOMAS DT Williams averages eight tackles per game. The Syracuse running game has yet to find its groove, and it will be up to Williams and a talented Northwestern linebacking core to keep the Orange grounded another week.

DELONE CARTER RB

STARTING LINEUPS

26 8

NATE WILLIAMS LB Smith has been active in the secondary this year for Northwestern with 15 tackles, a breakup and a pass deflection. Paulus needs to scan the field and not focus on just one receiver to keep Smith on his heels.

GREG PAULUS QB

25

54

97

99

28

76 65 64 78 89

75

12

34 51

11

13

BRENDAN SMITH S

DID YOU KNOW?

26 THEY SAID IT

99

1

74

57 98

70

BEAT WRITER PREDICTIONS

41 94

67 60

15

“Every other team in the conference is playing cupcake teams. They get their wins, but we’re Syracuse. We don’t do it like that. I’m excited.”

The number of yards per carry Penn State’s Evan Royster had against SU last week.

4

35

C.J. Bacher, Northwestern’s starting quarterback from last season, will play for the New York Sentinels in the inaugural season of the United Football League.

77

24 73

85

5

2 3

Art Jones

“We just want to go out and win. I’ve been here for going on four years now, and I haven’t won that much. I just want to win, no matter what, at all costs. I just want to win.” Anthony Perkins

SU DEFENSIVE TACKLE

UP NEXT >>

MAINE

Sept. 26, 7 p.m.

SOUTH FLORIDA

Oct. 3, noon, TW26

NORTHWESTERN DEFENSE 99 DE COREY WOOTTON 98 DT CORBIN BRYANT 67 DT MARSHALL THOMAS 94 DE VINCE BROWNE 35 LB BEN JOHNSON 57 LB NATE WILLIAMS 41 LB QUENTIN DAVIE 26 CB JORDAN MABIN 24 CB SHERRICK MCMANIS 17 S BRAD PHILLIPS 4S BRENDAN SMITH

JARED DIAMOND Syracuse 20 Northwestern 17 Consider this the true beginning to the Doug Marrone era.

TYLER DUNNE

SU NOSE TACKLE

SYRACUSE OFFENSE 2 QB GREG PAULUS 3 RB DELONE CARTER 1 WR MIKE WILLIAMS 5 WR MARCUS SALES 15 WR ALEC LEMON 85 TE MIKE OWEN 74 LT NICK SPELLER 70 LG RYAN BARTHOLOMEW 60 C JIM MCKENZIE 77 RG TUCKER BAUMBACH 73 RT JONATHAN MELDRUM

The number of first downs Northwestern had in its 30-10 win against Syracuse last year.

Syracuse’s national ranking in rushing yards per game (77.5).

25

17

0 7 25 105 3.4

The number of passing touchdowns Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka has this year through two games.

The number of rushing touchdowns Northwestern has scored through two games.

35

32

BY THE NUMBERS

NORTHWESTERN OFFENSE 13 QB MIKE KAFKA 25 RB STEPHEN SIMMONS 8 WR DEMETRIUS FIELDS 11 WR JEREMY EBERT 12 WR ANDREW BREWER 89 SB JOSH ROOKS 75 LT AL NETTER 76 LG DESMOND TAYLOR 65 C BEN BURKETT 64 RG DOUG BARTELS 78 RT KURT MATTES

WEST VIRGINIA

Oct. 10, TBA

SYRACUSE DEFENSE 54 DE MIKHAIL MARINOVICH 97 NT ART JONES 51 DT ANDREW LEWIS 99 DE CHANDLER JONES 32 SLB DOUG HOGUE 25 MLB DERRELL SMITH 34 WLB E.J. CARTER 26 H KEVYN SCOTT 28 CB NICO SCOTT 24 SS MAX SUTER 35 FS MIKE HOLMES

AKRON

Oct. 24, TBA

Syracuse 23 Northwestern 16 It’s not pretty, but Syracuse’s defense stones the Wildcats’ running game to grind out Doug Marrone’s first win as head coach.

MATT EHALT Syracuse 24 Northwestern 21 Get the Gatorade bath ready for the new coach. Or since Marrone is a Yankees fan, maybe a pie in the face would be more appropriate?

17 CINCINNATI

Oct. 31, TBA

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northwestern from page 3

“Sooner or later we’re going to punch right through that wall, and you’re going to see there it is. That’s when people are going to say, ‘Wow there it is. That’s what they were working for.” Anthony Perkins

SU defensive tackle

Marrone said Northwestern is a very smart and tough football team, and it has done a good job of being consistent. He praised the Wildcats’ empty and one-back packages, along with quarterback Mike Kafka’s play. The Orange players seem anxious to get a chance at revenge after its 30-10 loss at Northwestern last year, as well. It all leads up to what could be a seasonchanging game Saturday night. Even though SU lost to the Wildcats last year, Northwestern is still Syracuse’s best chance so far this season at a win. It’s an opportunity to welcome Marrone to the winning column in his first season and give the Syracuse football program something that has been so hard to come across in the past four-plus seasons: a victory. “We’re due,” Bartholomew said. “We’re due for a win.” mrehalt@syr.edu

court hathaway | staff photographer ryan bartholomew and the offensive line have struggled this season to open holes for Syracuse running back Delone Carter.


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standings

syracuse.com randy edsall has led Connecticut to a 1-1 record to begin the season. Last week, the Huskies held a late lead against North Carolina but lost in the fourth quarter when tackle Dan Ryan was penalized for holding in the end zone, resulting in a safety,

Around the Big East

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Cincinnati 2-0 (1-0)

Pittsburgh 2-0

South Florida 2-0

West Virginia 2-0

Louisville 1-0

Connecticut 1-1

Syracuse 0-2

Louisville (1-0) vs. Kentucky (1-0)

No. 17 Cincinnati (2-0) vs. Oregon State (2-0)

Louisville versus Kentucky isn’t just a basketball rivalry. The two teams meet for the 22nd time for the Governor’s Cup in the annual game that always creates a stir in the state of Kentucky. The Wildcats won each of the last two meetings. In their first game of the season, the Cardinals took down Indiana State, 30-10, while the Wildcats hammered Miami (Ohio), 42-0, for the school’s first shutout in 13 years.

Cincinnati might have the highest-powered under-the-radar offense in the entire nation. UC has outscored its opponents, 117-18, in its first two games. But the Bearcats will have a tough test on the road against an Oregon State team that has allowed only 28 total points in its first two games. Additionally, the Beavers have won 27 consecutive non-conference home games.

Florida International (0-1) vs. Rutgers (1-1)

Charleston Southern (0-2) vs. South Florida (2-0)

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 45-7 victory over Howard, starting the Tom Savage era at quarterback. They look to continue that success with this week’s visit from Florida International. The Panthers opened the season in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and actually kept up with Alabama for nearly three quarters before eventually running out of gas in the final 15 minutes.

South Florida is off to a hot start with wins over Wofford and Western Kentucky, outscoring both opponents by a combined tally of 75-20. Charleston Southern, who has already been blown out by No.1 Florida this season, isn’t likely to give the Bulls much competition. USF senior quarterback Matt Grothe could have a big game, further increasing his Big East total yardage record.

Connecticut (1-1) vs. Baylor (1-0)

Northwestern (2-0) vs. Syracuse (0-2)

After getting an early bye last week, Baylor is back in action, looking to squeak by a quality non-conference opponent for the second time in as many games. The Bears opened the season by upsetting Wake Forest on the road, 24-21. But Connecticut will be looking to recover from a heartbreaking home loss to North Carolina — a lost opportunity to get to 2-0.

Syracuse looks to notch its first victory of the season and avenge a 30-10 season-opening loss to Northwestern in 2008. NU has won four of its last five games dating back to last season and has outscored its two opponents, 74-38, this season. For the Orange to make it a game, it will likely need to get off to a quick start, as NU has outscored its opponents, 58-10, in the first half of its two games this season.

Connecticut vs. Baylor 5 p.m.

Navy (1-1) vs. Pittsburgh (2-0)

West Virginia (2-0) vs. Auburn (2-0)

Pittsburgh certainly isn’t looking past Navy in this one. Navy almost upset Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, in its first game of the season and has looked very solid thus far this year. The Panthers, led by freshman running back Dion Lewis, will look to outlast the Midshipmen in the trenches in a battle of two teams that rely heavily on the ground attack.

West Virginia won last year’s matchup, 34-17, but the rematch will be down south at Jordan-Hare Stadium. WVU has started fast in the post-Pat White era, winning both of its games by double-digits. In turn, the Gene Chizik era in Auburn couldn’t have started much better. Auburn also won both its games by double-digits and has already scored 86 points, fueled by a high-energy, unpredictable rushing offense.

Charleston Southern vs. South Florida 7 p.m.

Rutgers 1-1 (0-1)

schedule Saturday, Sept. 19 Louisville vs. Kentucky ESPNU, noon Florida International vs. Rutgers 5 p.m.

Navy vs. Pittsburgh 6 p.m. Cincinnati vs. Oregon State 6:45 p.m., FSN

Northwestern vs. Syracuse 7 p.m., TW26 West Virginia vs. Auburn 7:45 p.m., ESPN2

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3 things SU needs to do to beat Northwestern

Catch the ball

Establish the run

Defend the big play

Frustration poured out of Syracuse’s players after its 28-7 loss to Penn State last week and it had nothing to do with the mighty Nittany Lions. Instead, the Orange was kicking itself for leaving so many big plays on the field. Against Big Ten competition, you can’t afford that. Dropped passes have infected Syracuse’s offense badly through two games. At critical moments last weekend, SU’s starting duo let momentum-changing plays slip through its grasp. Mike Williams had a fourth-and-goal slant pass ricochet off his chest, and Alec Lemon had two drops — one a tipped ball that resulted in an interception and another that would have been at least a 15-yard gain. If Syracuse’s offense is going to escape this six-quarter funk, the wideouts must hang onto the ball. After the game, Williams admitted the problem was focus. A few plays before his drop, he snared a circus catch along the sideline in traffic. He focused on that one, he said. Not on the simple slant pass soon after. Northwestern won’t give Syracuse’s receivers much wiggle room. When opportunities for big gains arise, SU’s receivers need to look the ball in. Back to basics. After all, the longest play for Syracuse’s offense all season has been only 29 yards.

Syracuse’s ground game has been stuck in neutral all season. The tailback combination of Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey was supposed to be a strength of this team. Instead, lackluster play by the offensive line kept the two ballcarriers trapped in the backfield. Last week against Penn State, Carter rushed for 40 yards on 15 attempts — an average of 2.7 yards per carry. The Stallion formation, which was so effective two weeks ago against Minnesota, looked slow and was mostly ineffective. The speedy Penn State defense easily snuffed it out, and the Orange’s O-line could not contain the dynamic run-stuffers in the trenches for the Nittany Lions. A lot has been made of Syracuse’s inability to throw. Greg Paulus has been good, not great. Big plays have been virtually nonexistent. But Paulus and the wide receivers do not deserve to shoulder most of the blame. If SU can establish a running attack, it will set up the passing game. Until the Orange proves it can pick up key yards on the ground, defenses will simply drop players back into coverage, not giving Paulus room to throw. Syracuse has weapons in its backfield. Now it’s up for the offensive line to give them room to show their potential.

The Syracuse defense has been prone to giving up the methodical drive so far this season, but has been relatively successful with stopping the big play. With this Saturday’s game against Northwestern, keeping this mentality is crucial, as the game will most likely come down to which team makes the first major defensive slip-up. On Northwestern’s side, it has big-play potential in wide receiver Andrew Brewer. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior torched Towson in week one to the tune of 6 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown, and has the potential to body-up the Orange corners and really break the game wide open. Also in the Wildcats’ corner is shifty tailback Stephen Simmons. At 5-foot-8, Simmons isn’t going to truck any defenders but has the ability to slip through the cracks and take it to the house. If the Orange isn’t careful, Simmons could pull a Noel Devine (West Virginia) circa 2008 and tire the SU linebacking corps enough to rattle off a big touchdown run. But if the Orange succeeds and keeps it a dogfight, one has to like its chances as the team looks hungrier for a win than it has in a long time. New head coach Doug Marrone won’t stop at anything to get his long-awaited first victory at the helm.

— Tyler Dunne, staff writer

— Jared Diamond, sports editor

— Conor Orr, asst. sports editor

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Tale of the tape

A position-by-position breakdown of Saturdayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s game

QUARTERBACKS

Northwestern is a run-first, think-second team this year. Through two games, the Wildcats have passed 46 times and ran 102 times. NUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quarterback Mike Kafka isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t asked to carry this team. He hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t thrown a touchdown yet this season. For Syracuse, Greg Paulus must do a better job going through his progressions this week. Considering Northwestern is not Penn State, that shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be a problem.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Syracuse has been lit up in the secondary over the first two games this year, albeit by two good passing teams. Syracuse gives up 100 more passing yards per game than the Wildcats (244 to 144). Northwesternâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s safeties are loading up on tackles and seem to have a good knack for the ball.

Advantage: Northwestern

Advantage: Syracuse

RUNNING BACKS

The Wildcatsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; offense will go as far as Stephen Simmons takes it. The junior has proved to be an adequate replacement for the graduated Tyrell Sutton, who ran circles around the Orangeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s defense last season (144 yards on 21 carries). Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey had no holes to run through in Happy Valley last week.

Advantage: Northwestern

WIDE RECEIVERS

Both teams lost their placekickers from last season and entered training camp with question marks shrouding the entire unit. Syracuseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ryan Lichtenstein and Northwesternâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Stefan Demos have combined to connect on all fi ve field goals they have attempted through two games this year, with Demos hitting a 49-yarder. Give the Orange a slight edge with Rob Longâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 44.3-yard punting average and Mike Jonesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; abilities in the return game.

Advantage: Syracuse

Though Northwestern hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t gone airborne often, it does boast a dangerous deep threat in Andrew Brewer. The 6-foot-3 wideout had a 72-yard touchdown in the Wildcatsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; opener. Outside of him, NU relies on a committee of receivers, much like Syracuse. Nobody has stepped up outside of Mike Williams quite yet.

Advantage: Even

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Syracuse D-line has held two strong running backs in check the first two weeks this season. Northwestern, meanwhile, is allowing its opponents 118.5 rushing yards per contest. Syracuse should be able to get a better pass rush, but the Orange offensive line might give up some sacks as well. SU is more talented in the front four.

Advantage: Syracuse

LINEBACKERS

Syracuseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s linebackers have been playing well, but the Wildcatsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; crew is putting together some good numbers. Quentin Davie, Nate Williams and Ben Johnson have combined for 39 tackles in the first three games. Derrell Smith has been solid for SU, but the rest of the unit can improve.

Advantage: Northwestern

sportsdoku!

SPECIAL TEAMS

COACHING

Both coaches are alumni of their respective schools. Pat Fitzgerald took over a perennial loser in Northwestern and in just three years has made it a consistent contender in the Big Ten. The Wildcats went 9-3 last season, and the players have responded to Fitzgeraldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s youthful enthusiasm and relatable personality. Meanwhile, Doug Marrone is searching for his first victory as a head coach at any level.

Advantage: Northwestern

INTANGIBLES

For one more game, at least, it seems the Carrier Dome will remain a significant home-field advantage. There were more than 40,000 fans in the building two weeks ago for the Minnesota game, and players from both squads talked about how the volume affected the on-field action. Though the attendance is expected to be lower Saturday, the Dome will still be raucous. Returning home could be just what SU needs to get into the win column.

Advantage: Syracuse

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Compiled by The Daily Orange sports staff

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Q&A with Max Suter By Conor Orr

Asst. Sports Editor

Max Suter, Syracuse’s starting strong safety, is in his third year with the team. Coming out of high school at Greensburg Central (Pa.) Catholic, Suter was ranked the 36th best safety and the No. 23 prospect in the state of Pennsylvania. Suter, though, made a name for himself initially as a kick returner for the Orange, amassing 1,846 total yards in two years — the second best in team history. Now, entering the 2009 season, Suter is one of the more experienced players in SU’s secondary and looks to propel the team along with fellow high school and college teammate Cody Catalina.

On the team’s feeling after two games We’re excited about Northwestern coming in here. We’re excited about what we can do. We saw what we did the first two games and it wasn’t exactly the outcome we expected, but with the progress we’ve been making, things are on the uprise. You know it’s a shame we lost that Minnesota game. We had them. And you know, this week after Penn State we talked about working as hard as we can because we’re sick of losing.

On his relationship with teammate Cody Catalina

Me and Cody only live half a mile apart so we’ve played ever since we were little together. It was nice when we got recruited and decided we were both going to go here. We knew it was going to be a good journey. I committed first then Cody followed, too. It was exciting. We played all high school, all pee-wee on the same team. It was nice.

On watching Catalina develop from a quarterback into a tight end For Cody, he came in as a quarterback and got switched to a tight end you know, he just wants to help the team however he can. Tight end is a good fit for him. Cody was always a big time lifter and, you know, he outgrew quarterback. He’s in at 240 pounds now, too big for a quarterback. He always had the frame but he never got big until his senior year and once he got here he’s gained 35-40 pounds. It is a big transition but I can see where it came from.

On his move from kick returner to safety Kick returning was nice and everything my freshman year and the end of my sophomore year. But, you know, we have other kids who came in like Mike Jones here — who’s the kick returner now — and there will be more to come from the freshman and sophomore class. Me and Mike (Holmes) were back there before and me and Mike have our roles at safety now — you know we gotta take care of those.

court hathaway | staff photographer max suter has recorded 11 tackles, a pass deflection and a pass breakup so far this season. The junior safety will look to stifle Northwestern’s offensive attack Saturday.

Me and Mike (Holmes) were both talking about how much we miss (kick returning). We wish we could be out there, but this is our role now. It wasn’t really Marrone, but me and my position coach, coach (Scott) Shafer and coach (Bob) Casullo kind of said, ‘You know, if you’re going to play safety we don’t want you back there with that role.’ Like I said, Mike (Jones) is perfect for that job.

Advice he would give himself and Catalina as freshmen back in high school I would just say work as hard as you can, don’t take anything for granted. My dad kind of instilled that in me, he was a great mentor to me.

On his favorite NFL team Definitely a Steelers faithful. The Super Bowl had its ups and downs, but I’m glad they came up on top. ctorr@syr.edu

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Around the nation Games of the Week

Tennessee vs. No. 1 Florida 3:30 p.m., CBS After the verbal jabs Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin threw toward Florida coach Urban Meyer this summer, he’ll now have to face the music against the top-ranked Gators. Always a great SEC rivalry, the two teams will finally settle it on the field. Expect Meyer and quarterback Tim Tebow to bring out the heavy artillery in this one. No. 19 Nebraska vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech 3:30 p.m., ABC Nebraska looks to avenge a 35-30 loss to Virginia Tech in 2008 behind a razor-sharp offense (984 yards, 87 points in its first two games). But it won’t be easy. Lane Stadium can be a hostile environment for visiting teams, as Tech has won 31 consecutive non-conference home games. Florida State vs. No. 7 Brigham Young 7 p.m. After upsetting Oklahoma and blowing out Tulane, Brigham Young enters its first home game of the season with its highest ranking since 1996. Here’s a chance to find out if the Cougars are for real. Florida State looked solid against Miami and has the athletes to potentially give BYU a difficult time.

espn.com tim tebow went 15-of-24 for 237 yards and four touchdowns in Florida’s win over Troy last Saturday. Tebow also ran for 71 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, leading the No. 1 Gators to a 2-0 record.

AP top 25 1. Florida (2-0) 2. Texas (2-0) 3. Southern California (2-0) 4. Alabama (2-0) 5. Mississippi (1-0) 5. Penn State (2-0) 7. Brigham Young (2-0) 8. California (2-0) 9. Louisiana State (2-0)

usa today top 25 10. Boise State (2-0) 11. Ohio State (1-1) 12. Oklahoma (1-1) 13. Virginia Tech (1-1) 14. Georgia Tech (2-1) 15. Texas Christian (1-0) 16. Oklahoma State (1-1) 17. Cincinnati (2-0) 18. Utah (2-0)

19. Nebraska (2-0) 20. Miami (Fla.) (2-0) 21. Houston (2-0) 22. Kansas (2-0) 23. Georgia (1-1) 24. North Carolina (2-0) 25. Michigan (2-0)

1. Florida (2-0) 2. Texas (2-0) 3. Southern California (2-0) 4. Alabama (2-0) 5. Penn State (2-0) 6. Mississippi (1-0) 7. Louisiana State (2-0) 7. California (2-0) 9. Brigham Young (2-0)

10. Boise State (2-0) 11. Ohio State (1-1) 12. Oklahoma (1-1) 13. Georgia Tech (2-1) 14. Virginia Tech (1-1) 15. Texas Christian (1-0) 16. Utah (2-0) 17. Oklahoma State (1-1) 18. Nebraska (2-0)

19. North Carolina (2-0) 20. Georgia (1-1) 21. Cincinnati (2-0) 22. Miami (Fla.) (2-0) 23. Kansas (2-0) 24. Oregon State (2-0) 25. Missouri (2-0)

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