Jake Locker had an impressive debut against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome the last time these two squads met three seasons ago. Washington ran away with the contest between the two rebuilding football programs. Three years later the rebuilding continues at both schools but both squads have rebuilt enough that they could break through and go bowling this post season.
Syracuse returns 18 starters from a team that went 4-8 last season but they have to find a suitable replacement for QB Greg Paulus who graduated. So QB Ryan Nassib will assume the reigns of the offense in 2010. He doesn't have much experience so he will be learning on the job which is always a challenge. Nassib needs to minimize the errors and turnovers to give the Orange a fighting chance against Washington.
The key for "Cuse" is to give Nassib a soft landing and not put everything on his shoulders. Syracuse needs to establish the run to be successful. Sr Delone Carter is a productive back who can move the pile and he has a little depth behind him. The entire Orange starting offensive line returns which should give the QB enough time to get rid of the ball against most opponents. Syracuse has a solid line with experienced depth.
Nassib has a few decent targets to throw the ball to. Aaron Weaver who transferred from Hofstra has the ability to make an impact at WR. He will team up with Jr Van Chew, and So Alec Lemon. At TE Jr Nick Provo, Jr Cody Catalina, and So Carl Cutler form a good looking rotation which can block and catch the ball.
The Orange return 10 starters on defense but they lose Arthur Jones who was one of the best DT's in the nation last season. Sr DT Andrew Lewis returns with Sr Bud Tribbey and Jr Oliver Haney fighting for the Jones spot. At end, sophomore Chandler Jones is back. He is the younger brother of Arthur Jones and he is capable of applying a lot of pressure on a QB. Jr Mikhail Marinovich and Sr Jared Kimmel return and will rotate at the other end.
At linebacker Sr Derrell Smith is back in the middle with Sr Doug Hogue, who is coming off a strong season and is expected to compete for All Big East honors. So EJ Carter lines up on the outside.
Syracuse has a good blend of depth and experience at DB. CB's Jr Kevyn Scott and Sr Da’Mon Merkerson both return along with Sr Nico Scott who be the nickel back. Sr Mike Holmes returns at FS along with Sr SS Max Suter. These guys are all battle tested and are expected to be improved this season.
Washington Vs Syracuse
Syracuse is an improving program with plenty of returning experience and a solid coach. Coach Doug Marrone has gotten his players to play hard in every game which is always the sign of an impending turn around. That being said they are still a solid recruiting class or two away from being contenders in the Big East.
The last time these two teams played the deciding factor was the play at QB. Jake Locker dominated Syracuse with his feet and arm. Now that Jake is a senior rather than a red shirt frosh starting his first game the gap should be even wider.
Washington has too many tools on offense for the Orange to contend with. In the last contest it was the element of surprise that came from Locker's feet that turned the tide. This time he is flanked with an improved offensive line, experienced all conference level receivers, and a returning 1000 yard RB.
Syracuse needs to have success running the ball and controlling the clock to beat Washington. Keeping Jake Locker off the field and taking advantage of whatever mistakes are made are going to be the keys for the Orange in this one.
I don't see the Syracuse offense being capable of playing catchup if they get behind early on the road in Seattle. If that happens they will have to throw the ball way more than they would like which could be a recipe for disaster. I have to favor the Huskies by a couple of TD's in this one.