|Syracuse on a 'winning streak' of 1|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 22 September 2008 21:55|
``I think it helps,'' head coach Greg Robinson said Monday. ``It gives us some momentum. It's good to feel good about things on a Sunday. We're in a good frame of mind.''
Frame that thought. It might not last very long.
Syracuse (1-3) begins conference play in the Carrier Dome on Saturday against Pittsburgh (2-1), which began the season ranked 25th and considered a legitimate Big East title challenger.
The Orange is coming off a 30-21 win over Championship Subdivision foe Northeastern, the team's first triumph since a win over Buffalo in October. But four games into the season, the statistics emphatically say Syracuse has a very long way to go to reach respectability.
Of the 119 teams in football's top division, Syracuse ranks:
-114th in total defense, allowing 476.23 yards per game, 6.52 yards per play, and has given up 20 touchdowns in four games.
h in third-down conversions (12-of-48 for 25 percent).
-Tied for 103rd in red-zone defense. In four games, opponents have driven inside the Syracuse 20-yard line 13 times and scored 12 touchdowns - five rushing and seven passing.
-116th in first downs allowed (25.5 per game) and tied for 108th with Stanford and Wyoming in first-down offense (15.5 per game).
-117th in third-down conversions allowed (35-of-56 for 62.5 percent).
Robinson hired Mitch Browning in the offseason to be offensive coordinator, and there has been marked improvement from a year ago. Sacks are down dramatically (five allowed to date) from 2007, when opponents registered 54, and the run game has emerged again as a force.
Syracuse ranks 52nd in rushing offense at 165 ypg, or 4.71 yards per carry. That's more than double last season's average of 2 yards per carry, the worst in the nation. And the Orange is tied for first in red-zone offense, going 11-for-11 (four TDs rushing, four passing, and three field goals).
But with the defense struggling, the pluses on offense are easily diminished. The defense is allowing 198 yards rushing per game (5.12 ypc) to rank 102nd.
yards and only 12.5 points per game.
Still, at long last there is a victory in the rearview mirror, and all is right in the Orange world for now. Forgotten already is that Northeastern quarterback Anthony Orio put up 342 yards offensively (293 passing and 49 rushing) for a team that lost seven of its first eight games last season and nearly was discontinued by the school because of the high costs associated with football.
``We're a team that needed a win,'' Robinson said. ``I see little things that are improving. I know some things we have to fix. That was obvious.''
What also has to be fixed is the Orange's 2-19 record in the Big East in three-plus years under Robinson.
``We know we're not at the top where we should be,'' sophomore free safety Randy McKinnon said. ``But we're still working toward that. All we can do right now is go into next week and keep the past in the past and make the present our present.''
Notes: Orange place-kicker Patrick Shadle was named to the Big East weekly honor roll on Monday after connecting on field goals of 46, 32 and 21 yards and scoring 12 points in the Orange's 30-21 victory over Northeastern. ... The Syracuse-Pitt series is tied 30-30-3, with the Orange ahead 17-12-3 at home.