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Syracuse offense optimistic at media day despite disappointing 2011 season

first_imgNEWPORT, R.I. – Alec Lemon can see the difference.Ryan Nassib is more confident, more aware of what he and his teammates are doing on the field. With two full years as a starter under his belt, and the Syracuse quarterback often tells offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett what the unit needs to do, rather than the other way around.“Being in that system for three years, he sees the small things, the things the coaches don’t see being on the field,” wide receiver Alec Lemon said. “We take that into consideration. And most of the time he’s right. He’s just taken that leadership step.”Speaking at the Big East’s annual football media day Tuesday at the Hotel Viking, Lemon said Nassib is more tuned in to the finer details that he might’ve missed in the past. Last season, the Orange fell apart, losing its final five games to finish 5-7. SU was picked to finish seventh in the Big East in its last season in the conference, ahead of newcomer Temple.With plenty of weapons in the Orange’s offense entering this season, Nassib and Syracuse are looking to bounce back from their disappointing 2011 campaign. Lemon said he feels 100 percent after suffering a shoulder injury in the spring. The return of Marcus Sales, star of the Pinstripe Bowl two years ago, complements him ideally. Sales finished with 26 receptions for 414 yards receiving in 2010, but he missed last season after being arrested on felony drug charges that were dropped last October.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWithout Sales last year, the Orange’s offense struggled.“Marcus has done a good job, he’s made big plays for us before so he’s played well. We’re excited,” head coach Doug Marrone said. “He looks good, the best I’ve seen him. I’m excited to see him back on the on the field.”Last season, Syracuse’s offense underachieved, finishing seventh in the Big East in scoring despite Nassib putting up single-season program records in completions with 259 and passing yards with 2,685. It wasn’t a lack of production from Nassib that held the Orange back, but ultimately a shortage of timely, clutch plays from his teammates surrounding him.Dropped catches. Fumbles. All forgettable plays that sent Syracuse’s season in a downward spiral.Marrone has mentioned the “big play” since the spring, and it’s a constant – yet so far elusive – goal.“That’s where we haven’t been as consistent is making plays, especially our wide receivers, quarterbacks, running backs, making those big plays,” Marrone said. “We’re trying to create greater opportunities for these guys to do that, but I feel good.”And for the Orange, once again, it’s another year, another tailback.Syracuse is deep at the running back position, with Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore all giving Marrone formidable options to put into the backfield.But the running game could suffer from having an offensive line that’ll be completely revamped on the right side due to the graduations of Michael Hay and Andrew Tiller. And with senior left tackle Justin Pugh will be out until at least until mid-September.SU has a streak of four straight seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher after Antwon Bailey accomplished the feat in 2011. But the growth of the offensive line, particularly likely starters Lou Alexander and Ivan Foy, will be crucial for the team to duplicate that success.“We’re going on our fourth year trying to have a 1,000-yard rusher and I think we’ve been pretty successful when we’ve run the ball well,” guard Zach Chibane said. “That’s the type of team we are, we take pride in the way we run the football, and it’s a big loss not having Andrew and not having Michael there.”As far as Lemon sees it, Syracuse has talented players ready to go surrounding Nassib.Ashton Broyld has the ability to line up at quarterback and in the backfield. Marrone said he won’t pinpoint a position for him until seeing what he can handle in training camp.“We’ve got a lot of explosive and athletic players coming in,” Lemon said. “It’s just finding those spots to put those athletes on the field. We’ve got a lot of great players and not a lot of spots to put everybody.”After a five-game losing streak to end last season, the offense needs an upgrade. Now mostly healthy, and soon-to-be fully healthy, the unit is looking to move past the team’s late-season collapse in 2011.“Coming off that five-game losing streak, it’s not something we wanted to do, but it’s in the past. We’ll keep it in the past,” Lemon said. “It’s a new team, new players, so we’ll keep it back there and we’ll start fresh in 2012.” Comments Published on July 30, 2012 at 5:42 pm Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_iseman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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