November 5, 2011; East Hartford, CT, USA; Syracuse defensive end Brandon Sharp (91) recovers a fumble during the third quarter at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE

It's Make It Or Break It Time For The Syracuse Football Team

It’s put up or shut up time for the Syracuse Orange.

Syracuse is in a do or die situation tomorrow night against UConn in the Dome. Yes the Orange can still afford two more losses on the season before becoming ineligible for a bowl, but a loss tomorrow would all but ensure that to happen.

Patience is (wrongly) running out on Doug Marrone from the fan base. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

A lot of pressure is being put on Doug Marrone to start producing wins, and rightfully so. While I don’t agree that he should be on the hot seat for his job, I think it is time for fans to start seeing improvement from this football team, and I can honestly say that hasn’t happened this season. This team is the same team that we have seen from week one, with silly mistakes and turnovers being their demise.

Connecticut is coming in to the game coming off of as bad of a loss that you can have in college football. Leading the entire game up until under 20 seconds left in regulation, the Huskies found a way to give up a 90 yard drive in an eventual overtime loss to Temple last week. The loss raised a lot of questions for UConn, who are win-less in the Big East so far this season.

Syracuse is coming in to the game no less frustrated than Connecticut though. The Orange suffered almost an equally as frustrating loss to a team that it felt it could have beaten. This is the third time this season that Syracuse fans have echoed this opinion, and it is time that the Orange actually start winning the games the are supposed to win. I say this over and over again, but the Orange are about to play three consecutive games that are very winnable (Connecticut, South Florida, and Cincinnati), and the Orange will have to take all three if their hopes for a bowl game are going to stay alive.

One thing to do this is to stop making silly turnovers. And before you put the blame on Doug Marrone, he is well aware of the issue:

“When we start playing this game, from when we were in kindergarten, we always talked about ball security,” Marrone said. “The focus has to be on it constantly. We’ve worked on all the things we can do from a standpoint of practice time. We spent the maximum time of practice on that to a point where we have cut things out to work on it and emphasize it. We run stations of drills that we rotate through that focus on turnovers. We have run specific drills for that. From the player’s standpoint it’s the focus and knowing how to take a hit and go down with the ball and how to cover it up in traffic and also knowing when to go down sometimes.”

As much as I love him, Syracuse can not afford to lose to this man tomorrow. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE

The other elephant in the room is the continued pressure on Doug Marrone’ job from the fan base. It isn’t the greatest timing in the world that the last successful Syracuse coach in Paul Pasqualoni comes to town leading the Huskies either. And to the people that continue to put pressure on Doug Marrone for his job, I will continue to disagree with you. This isn’t like the Greg Robinson era where it comes down to coaching incompetence with mistakes that are made (such as not having an off season conditioning program for your team). Marrone’s coaching alone has the team head and shoulders more competitive than Greg Robinson coached teams. While I understand it is frustrating that the wins aren’t coming, I believe that it is too premature to make a judgement on his coaching. It takes time to transform a program in college football, and Marrone hasn’t had enough time yet to completely judge his ability to do so.

To put it in perspective, his quarterback is still a Greg Robinson recruit.

Doug Marrone is the right man for this job if he is given enough time to work. Fans in Syracuse are used to the immediate impact player that Jim Boeheim consistently brings in for the basketball program, but it simply doesn’t work that way in football. Ashton Broyld is a big kid who has enormous potential, but he could use an off season of strength training and he will make an impact in games.

I expect the crowd to be ho hum tomorrow night, despite it being a Friday night game. Based off of my judgement of the Syracuse fan base, the die-hards will come out but if the Orange want to pack the Dome again they are going to have to win their next three in a row to get a good fan base in the building for the Louisville game on November 10.

More importantly than the attendance numbers however, would be added confidence in the head coach from the fans.


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