Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pitarresi: Not quite in love with Bills yet


I’m a Buffalo Bills fan.


I have been since the early 1960s, when the Bills began to get pretty good. (For many years before that, I was a New York Giants fan, and I remained so for a long time because the teams rarely or never played each other and it wasn’t a problem.) You might not remember, but every Western New Yorker – I’m one – sure does. The Bills were AFL champions in 1964 and 1965, and the fans were madly in love with them. And, of course, the fans were madly in love with them in the early 90s, when they went to four consecutive Super Bowls, even if they lost them all.


Now, it appears, the good times are back. The Bills are 4-0. Are the fans in love with them again? Pretty much, I think. Am I? I don’t give my heart away that easily. Clearly, the Bills are a good team. Quarterback Trent Edwards has been impressive in the clutch for an offense that is competent but not overpowering, Paul Poluszny and the defense look good, although they could be stronger against the run, and the team appears well balanced and solid all around.


It bothers me, though, that the Bills have had to come from behind in three of their four victories. It’s great that they had the ability to do that, but playing from behind is not a good habit.


So, I’m a Bills fan, and always will be, but I’m not yet in love the current team. I’ll let you know better in about a month.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Pitarresi: Surprise, surprise for Kosakowski

Jackie Kosakowski ran a very good Falling Leaves Road Race Sunday, and got a couple of surprises, to boot.


She finished the 14-kilometer division in 53:49, certainly one of the better times ever in the 34-year-old race and better than all but nine men in the race.


“I was kind of surprised, actually,” said the former Sauquoit Valley and College of William & Mary star, who was making her first start at 14K after running the 5K many times. “I felt strong. I felt strong all the way through.”


But she didn’t win. Claudia Camargo of Danbury, Conn. did, in 52:35, a pretty hot time. Not that Kosawkowski knew who Camargo was. It seems no one did. However, Kosakowski later went searching on the Internet, as did a few others, and found that Camargo is a former Argentine national champion at several distances, a former New York Road Runners runner of the year, and that she qualified for the Olympic marathon this year, although she did not run.


“I  said, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t feel so bad finishing second to a 2:36 marathoner,’” she said. “That’s funny.”


Kosakowski, who counted on running about 6:30 miles, actually covered the distance at 6:12 pace, and came from way back to pass Kristin White of Manlius and Katie Danner of Alpine.


Kosakowski, 25, is working as a physical therapy assistant and coaching cross country and track and field at Hanover High School, north of Richmond, Va. She is racing regularly, and working hard at it.


“My mileages are consistently high for a change,” she said.


Continued good luck running to Kosakowski, certainly one of the area’s best high school runners seven or eight years ago. She appears to have a racing future in front of her if she wants

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pitarresi: Falling Leaves was great, SU's Robinson was right ... and wrong.

Congratulations to race director Mike Brych and his people for a great Falling Leaves Road Race today.


The Falling Leaves is the Utica Roadrunners’ last big run of the year and it’s always a good one. It’s the area’s oldest continually run race, born in 1975.


There were 1,160 entries this year, the most in a quite a few years, and 1,012 finishers. Terrific.


The race draws top flight runners, not just from the Mohawk Valley, but from Syracuse, plus some Kenyan runners from metropolitan New York. It’s really a fine event, with numerous local businesses and organizations supporting it, and a major boost from Rich Karaz at The Sneaker Store, who arranged for the high-tech Mizuno T-shirts that each runner received this year.


On the Syracuse football team and it’s 34-24 loss to Pitt Saturday after blowing an 11-point lead:


Coach Greg Robinson is getting beat up by bloggers for punting on 4th-and-1 at the Pitt 38 in the second quarter. What would they be saying if he went for it and didn’t get it? Yes, Syracuse is a desperate team that needs to play loose, but punting is the right call in that situation. It doesn’t matter that they went for the long pass on third down, trying to catch the Panthers cheating up for a 3rd down run. Punting is the right call. My own second guess has to do with Curtis Brinkley not being on the field when SU had the ball after Pitt tied the game 24-24 early in the fourth quarter. Brinkley is SU’s horse – the Orange are a much better team when he is running well, and he was – and he had to be on the field at that time.


Robinson said Brinkley was fatigued. Brinkley said he wasn’t. My guess is that Robinson didn’t know Brinkley wasn’t in there and freshman Antwon Bailey was. Such things usually are left to the offensive coordinator – in this case, Mitch Browning – and I really think that was the case here. Still, Robinson is the ultimate authority, and he has to take the hit for that.


Anyway, desperate or not, the punt is the right call, especially after trying to draw the other team off. Not having Brinkley on the field at crunch time was not.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pitarresi: Brinkley needs to get the ball


Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008


Curtis Brinkley is the Syracuse University football team's biggest weapon.


The senior from Philadelphia, who is coming back from a broken leg suffered late last season, is quick, makes great cuts in traffic, and finishes plays, attacking defenders when closed in, rather than waiting to be hit. A great many backs don't do that.


Brinkley needs to carry the ball more than 16 times in a game, which is what he did in today's 34-24 loss to Pitt, a game the Orange definitely had a shot to win.


Brinkley gained 119 yards - 43 of them on one fabulous run - but he could have had more, and they might have made a difference. Brinkley was on the bench after Pitt tied the game 24-24 in the fourth quarter. Number two tailback Paul Hogue was nicked up, and freshman Antwon Bailey was on the field. He carried twice for five yards as SU went four-and-out. That was followed by a Lee Conor field goal that gave Pitt the lead. Brinkley, in fact, got only two more carries in the game - for 12 yards - but Cameron Dantley was sacked on the next play and fumbled, and that was it.


This wasn’t the same situation that occurred in the 42-28 loss to Akron Sept. 6, but the under-use of Brinkley in that one hurt, too.  Hogue started that game, wasn't able to get going on the first two series, and before you knew it, the Zips had a 14-0 lead. Brinkley then came in and gained 143 yards on 21 carries, but it was too late.


Coaches have all kinds of reasons for doing things, many of which they aren't about to share with you and me. That’s fine, but today, SU coach Greg Robinson said Bailey was in the game because Brinkley was fatigued. Brinkley said he wasn't. Well, Brinkley is the kind of kid who wants the ball on every down, so you have to take that into consideration, but the game was on the line and your biggest weapon is on the bench. Again, maybe Robinson had another reason, but everything in the SU offense looks better when Brinkley has the ball. Nothing against Hogue, Bailey, or Delone Carter, who was out again with a pulled hamstring, but Brinkley adds a special dimension, and he has to get the ball more if SU is to be successful.


And how about these scores:


Ole Miss 31, No. 4 Florida 30: No wonder Urban Meyer had little to say to Dan Patrick on the radio the other day and kept repeating that he was just focused on Mississippi. He needed to focus even more.

Navy 24, No. 16 Wake Forest 17: Navy is good, and mentally tough. You’d better be ready to play when the Middies show up.

Houston 41, No. 23 Easton Carolina 24: The Skip Holtz legend goes up in smoke, and now even the SU vultures don’t want him as their next coach.

Michigan 27, No. 9 Wisconsin 25: It’s hard to pull for Michigan, the winningest team in college football history, but, heck, they were underdogs now.

No. 8 Alabama ? over No. 3 Georgia ?: I’m watching this one right now, its 24-0 ‘Bama, and I think I can figure out who is going to win even though its just the second quarter. You never know, though.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pitarresi: You've got to play the game

Oh, I just loved watching Oregon State beat Southern Cal Thursday night.


I have no particular antipathy toward USC, but I love underdogs and a I love seeing the experts – the TV and radio guys and, yes, the sportswriters - get their assumptions and predictions jammed right back into their faces.


Oregon State had to hang on, but for much of the game, and absolutely in the first half, they kicked the Trojans around. They refused to believe they were supposed to lose, even if they were a 24-point underdog. That’s the great thing about sports. You have to play the game. You can’t just walk out on the field if you are the favorite, and you can’t accept what some fan or sportswriter’s estimation of what your abilities are. You go out and play with passion and smarts, to the best of your ability. Let it rip it. Oregon State did that and USC didn’t.


In sports, everyone wants to deal in absolutes – make your prediction, come out and say that USC will win 50-0, whatever. That isn’t the way it is. You’ve got to play the game.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pitarresi: Scott, Sullivan, Simonds dynamic trio for Colgate

Jordan Scott is having another great season for Colgate University’s football team.


After carrying 29 times for 236 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 34-20 win over Dartmouth, he has 5,015 yards in his career and is the Patriot League’s all-time leading rusher, and is closing in on the NCAA’s all-time carries record and Kenny Gamble’s all-time Raider rushing record.


Scott is a great player, but the Raiders also are getting some terrific work from sophomore quarterback Greg Sullivan, who stepped in when starter Alex Relph was hurt early in the opening game with Stony Brook. Sullivan had a terrific performance against Dartmouth, taking off on two fourth-quarter touchdown runs, rushing 18 times for 136 yards and completing 7 of 10 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.


Those two guys and 6-foot-6 wide receiver Pat Simonds, a junior from Sidney who has caught 25 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns, make Colgate’s offense pretty dynamic. The Raiders play at Fordham Saturday, then return home to play Georgetown Oct. 4, and they should be well worth watching.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pitarresi: SU has a chance against Pitt

Syracuse University football fans might be too busy planning to tar and feather coach Greg Robinson, athletic director Dr. Darlyl Gross, and chancellor Nancy Cantor to notice, but the Orange have a chance to beat Pittsburgh in their Big East opener Saturday.

SU might be a 16-point underdog, and maybe no one is impressed with their narrow victory over Northeastern last weekend. However, Pittsburgh, while 2-1, hasn’t been rolling in high gear. The Panthers have lost to Bowling Green and only narrowly defeated Buffalo and Iowa. Their defense, led by sensational middle linebacker Scott McKillop, seems to be very strong, but their offense has been hit and miss.

True, SU’s defense hasn’t really stopped anyone, not even I-AA Northeastern, so even the modest Pitt offense will be a challenge. However, if the Orange can run the ball – and Curtis Brinkley is a very good back if he gets even a little room – they have a shot. If Brinkley can run, then Cameron Dantley can throw, if even only on the bootleg, which has been SU’s best passing option by far because the wide receivers are having a terrible time getting open in the drop-back game.

A big if, right? Yes, but the point is, it isn’t out of the question that SU gets a win this weekend.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

John Pitarresi: Players are where you find them

Football players are where you find them, and not all of the good ones play at major colleges.

Brian Mandeville and Anthony Orio, for example.

Not to take away from the big days Curtis Brinkley (24 carries, 145 yards, 1 touchdown) – a fierce, very dangerous guy when he gets some room - Doug Hogue (16 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 receptions, 25 yards, 1 touchdown) and Cameron Dantley (14 of 17, 167 yards, 1 touchdown) had in Syracuse University’s 30-21 victory over Northeastern today, but Orio and Mandeville were two big reasons the I-AA Huskies were able to give the Orange all they could handle.

Mandeville is a huge tight end (6-7, 255) with terrific athletic ability and great hands who pro scouts are looking at very closely. He had five catches for 83 yards today, and three of those grabs were sensational. The strong-armed Orio completed 23 of 37 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns and made a lot of good decisions, even if he threw two interceptions, both batted balls if I recall correctly.

The 6-2, 240-pound Orio is an interesting story. He graduated summa cum laude last year with a major in biochemistry and hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon. Huskies coach Rockie Hager is glad the kid hasn’t started on that path yet.

“He had applied to medical school, so if he was there, he wouldn’t be our quarterback today,” Hager said. “He is a great kid, and makes the right decisions. I hope he is my doctor some day.”

That’s a pretty good tribute for a coach, especially after a loss.

Some notable scores Saturday:

LSU 26, Auburn 21 - Too bad the War Eagle/Tigers, fresh off their scintillating 3-2 Mississippi State win, couldn't hang on.

South Florida 17, Florida International - The Bulls, current pride of the Big East, had some trouble with four-touchdown underdog.

NC State 30, East Carolina 24 - Long-forgotten Wolfpack bursts Pirates bubble and now maniacal SU fans have to find someone other than Skip Holtz to be their favorite next coach.

BYU 44, Wyoming 0 - Max Hall throws "only" three TD passes, but Cougars have outscored the opposition 103-0 in the last two games.

Boise State 37, Oregon 32 - The nation's favorite "mid-major" knocks off another supposedly great team.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

John Pitarresi: Ryder Cup doesn't stir patriotic fervor

The Ryder Cup starts Friday.

I don’t know what it is, but half the time I find myself rooting against our team, and I feel bad about it.

Maybe there was a point, before the European started getting their revenge, that I felt the Americans needed to be taken down a peg. Like the Yankees, who have been, or Southern Cal, which I hope will be.

But, you know, I really don’t feel the “us-against-them” thing. They’re all great golfers, half of them are from Europe, and it’s a nice competition. But national pride? No, it’s not really at stake.

Sometimes it’s difficult to identify with “our team.” I remember organizers of the America’s Cup team asking for donations to fund their effort. What? You almost need to be a managing partner at Goldman, Sachs to even get on deck, and you need my $20? Hey, good luck. I hope you have a good wind and you don’t fall off the boat.

Professional golfers generally are much more simpatico, but I can’t invest in their success or lack of it, so I just wish for some great, competitive golf this weekend.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

John Pitarresi: A genuine must-win game

If ever there was a must-win football game, this is it.

Northeastern University visits the Carrier Dome Saturday, and the Syracuse University Orangemen absolutely, positively have to beat them. If they don’t, it will be the worse loss in SU memory, maybe the worst ever, and a program that already is hurting will be all but dead.

Nothing against the Huskies, but they play in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly I-AA, and theoretically shouldn’t be able to defeat a BCS school. Theoretically. Such things do happen – Appalachian State over Michigan last year, Maine over Mississippi State in 2004 and many others – and Northeastern, 0-2, did gain 452 yards and held the ball for 38 minutes in an overtime loss to traditional I-AA power Georgia Southern Saturday.

The Orange can’t assume anything, and they aren’t.

“They play football just like we do,” said running back Curtis Brinkley.

“We have to look at it like any other week,” said defensive end Vincenzo Giruzzi.

For the Orange, it’s another football game and another chance to get a win.

“That the way I look at it,” said coach Greg Robinson. “That’s the way I look at it. They’re a football tam. It’s the team we’re playing this week.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Robinson, Gross, Cantor roasted by fans

If you ever wanted to the know the true definition of the word "vitriolic" – you probably don’t but maybe you should – just take a look at the blog comments on a certain Central New York newspaper’s Web site in regard to the Syracuse University football program.


The pure hatred for head coach Greg Robinson in the wake of Saturday’s 55-13 (and it could have been much worse) horsewhipping at the hands of Penn State is something to behold. It’s officially gone beyond the level of what was directed at Paul Pasqualoni four years ago. The fans also don’t spare athletic director Daryl Gross – booed lustily at halftime yesterday – and chancellor Nancy Cantor.


It’s understandable, I guess, considering the state of the program. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team, but, you know, these people haven’t committed any crimes that I know of. It’s football. It’s important, for sure, but do we really need to be so shrill and so personal? Really, so many of us – fans, broadcasters, sportswriters – are more demanding than we have a right to be. I’d like to see everyone ask themselves a question before we contribute to blogs, write columns or comment on radio shows – would I say this in this way to the guy’s face? That might moderate the tone somewhat. Of course, it isn’t going to happen. I guess if you are a coach or administrator, you’d better have a very thick skin.


Of course, this is a program that is in a bad way. I have no idea if the Orange can recover this season, and to be honest, I wouldn’t bet 10 bucks on SU against Northeastern Saturday. The Orange have to prove they can win against … anyone.


The eventual outcome of yesterday’s game was obvious very early. It was painful to watch, but since misery loves company, you might also shed a tear for:


Ohio State fans (the No. 5 Buckeyes suffer a brutal 35-3 loss to No. 1 Southern Cal); Washington fans (the one-time very strong Huskies are blown out by Oklahoma, 55-14); Arizona State fans (the No. 15 Sun Devils have a field goal blocked in overtime and lose to UNLV, a team that had won just seven of its previous 37 games, 23-20); UCLA fans (a 59-0 loss, the Bruins’ worst in 75 years, to No. 18 BYU, a team that defeated the aforementioned Washington by a point on a blocked extra point the week before.


The most startling score of the day, though, might have been No. 9 Auburn 3, Mississippi State 2. That simply doesn’t happen in college football any more, but it did yesterday in Starkville, Miss.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

More on SU football ticket prices

A little more on Syracuse University football ticket prices discussed Wednesday:

As one blogger commented – the only comment we’ve had in a while, by the way – Syracuse does have to pay the visiting teams, and you know Penn State is going to get a lot more than Akron did for coming to the Carrier Dome.

My answer to that is, so what? There should be at least 15,000 more people in the building to see the Nittany Lions than there were to see the Zips, which would mean at least $300,000 and maybe as much as $750,000 in additional ticket revenue. That should go a long way toward covering the contract.

But even that is beside the point, which is that the price of major college football tickets is very high and that money rules the sport far too much. Believe me, I love going to the Dome and seeing great Division I athletes, but I don’t think the show is so great that you should have to pay five or six times what you would have to pay at Colgate or some similar school. Even if it is worth it or you think it is, you still have to pay the money, and you are looking at a $50 to $100 day … for one person.

However, the law of supply and demand applies. Penn State can charge whatever it wants to, because 108,000 or so people show up every weekend. The demand for SU football is dropping like a stone and the supply of tickets will grow tremendously if this season continues along its current lines. And if it does, next year they will either be cutting prices or giving all kinds of special deals to get people into the building.

I’d like to hear more from readers on this. Worth it or not?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ticket prices are stunning

A friend called today to express amazement about the price of Syracuse University football tickets.


He wanted to take some kids to the Penn State game Saturday. He could, for $57 a head, and that’s what they call patron seating, which means look out if you are afraid of heights.


My friend is taking the group to Colgate-Furman instead. Tickets are $15 for reserved, $10 general admission, $5 for children 12 and under and, get this, $5 per ticket for groups of 25 or more. No, it isn’t the big time, but it’s pretty good football, and Andy Kerr Stadium is a beautiful setting.


I know SU needs that money to pay all those big salaries, but, wow!


To be honest, until today I didn’t know the price of SU tickets. I’ve covered Syracuse football off and on since 1972, so I’ve never had to pay and never looked at the prices. I’m glad I didn’t, because they are bewildering and depend on the supposed quality of the opponent, your age, and, of course, the location of the seats. There are six or more price categories, not including season tickets.


The top SU ticket for Penn State is $127, for which 25 people could attend the Colgate game. The cheapest, for children under 12, is $30.


For the Akron game, the top ticket was $106, the cheapest $18, with patron seating going to $36. It will be the same for Pittsburgh, a Big East Conference team. For Northeastern, a I-AA team, the top ticket will be $106, and kids tickets will be $13, as will senior citizen tickets (60 and over, purchased on-line, and, I do believe, so far up in the sky most senior citizens would have a coronary getting to their seats.)     


Hey, I’m getting a little dizzy just writing this!


Well, it turns out the “general public” price for Penn State home games is $61. I think that is the equivalent of the $57 and $36 patron seats in the Carrier Dome. It’s $62 at Ohio State, but just $46 at Purdue and Iowa. Remember, though. These are not the best seats. And just think how big a loan you will have to secure if you do want bring some kids or a date.


Hey, I wouldn’t miss SU-Penn State for the world, even if the Orange are in bad shape, but, boy, I’m glad I’m a sportswriter.





Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Paterno to revisit Carrier Dome

Penn State will visit Syracuse University to play football for the first time since 1989 Saturday.


The teams have not at all since 1990, which is too bad, because it was a great series for a long time, even if the Nittany Lions did dominate it for most of the last 25 years.


I covered Penn State-Syracuse once back in the early 1970s. I think it was 1973, a game the Lions won 49-6 at Archbold Stadium. I don’t remember anything about the game except that afterward, some of us trundled down to the visiting locker room after the game to talk to Paterno, who already was becoming a legend. I remember Joe stood in the doorway while about a half-dozen of us asked him questions. He answered a few questions – my recollection was that he was not all that charming, but maybe I’m wrong – and then I think he opened the locker room, but I’m not sure. I don’t recall what players I spoke to, if any. All I really remember is talking to Paterno.


Saturday, I’m sure there will be two dozen writers trying to speak to Paterno, and they won’t fit in that hallway that leads to the visiting locker room.  




Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bad two weeks for Big East

It hasn’t been a good opening two weeks for the Syracuse University football team, especially after a total defensive cave-in Saturday’s 42-28 loss to Akron, but it hasn’t been a good two weeks for the Big East in general.


The conference went 4-4 in Week One, with Pittsburgh the biggest loser in being upset by Bowling Green, although Louisville’s one-sided loss to Kentucky, Rutgers’ second half collapse against Fresno State and Syracuse’s 30-10 loss to Northwestern would have been award winners if not for that.


Saturday, the league went 4-3, with Rugers having a bye. Syracuse looked comatose on defense in its 42-28 loss to Akron, supposedly great West Virginia was crunched by East Carolina, and Cincinnati was slapped down hard by Oklahoma. It could have been worse. Pittsburgh had a very difficult time with improving Buffalo, South Florida had to go to overtime to down Central Florida, and Connecticut needed an overtime touchdown to get by Temple, an improving and dangerous team.


All of it points to the increasing parity in college football, at least among teams outside of the top five or 10, and it also shows that the Big East, which had appeared to regain its big time status last year, still has a ways to go to catch up to other major conferences.




Saturday, September 6, 2008

Brinkley's big game goes to waste

The worst thing about Syracuse University’s 42-28 football loss to Akron today was … well, there were a lot of worst things.

Aside from a horrific defensive day, though, the worst might have been the Orange wasting a terrific performance by senior tailback Curtis Brinkley.

To say Brinkley was ready to play is an understatement. Not starting will do that for you.

“I was fired up,” Brinkley said emphatically after the game.

Understandably. Brinkley played pretty well in last week’s opening loss to Northwestern, and yet SU coach Greg Robinson chose to start sophomore Doug Hogue. Maybe it was Hogue’s turn. Maybe he had a great week in practice. No matter.

That didn’t work, and Akron was up 14-0 before Brinkley came in and changed the game, leading the way to a comeback that left the teams tied 28-28 in the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t Brinkley’s fault that the defensive simply could not stop the Zips, quickly yielding a 78-yard scoring drive that pretty much decided it.

Brinkley carried 21 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, the best performance by an SU back in some time. He did it with hard, smart running, hitting holes precisely, worming through tiny gaps, making sensational cuts in traffic, finishing plays with a punch. Granted, Akron isn’t Penn State and gave up 404 rushing yards against Wisconsin, but it just showed what Brinkely can do when he gets room. He’s always had ability, but he’s rarely had room to run.

Hogue is a serviceable back, but he’s a standup runner and he’s not shifty. Delone Carter is a good back, and has terrific power for his size, but Brinkley is more dynamic, and he plays very hungry. There might not be too much to cheer about for SU fans this season, but Brinkley is one of them.

Friday, September 5, 2008

NFL seems earlier every year

The NFL already is here, and I’m not ready.


I love football in a big way – from Pop Warner through the pros – but it seems to arrive earlier every year. I mean, it was relatively hot last night and would have been really hot today except for the nice breeze we had as my brother and my buddy and I painted my porches – okay, they did most of the painting while I supervised – but there hasn’t been much football weather lately. Sometimes you need that to get you into the mood.


For example, last night, as the Super Bowl champion New York Giants opened the season with a 16-7 victory over the Washington Redskins, I was at Saranac Thursday. I didn’t get home until the last six minutes of the first half, but that was enough to show me that Eli Manning has actually improved since last year, Plaxico Burress can play with desire and the Giant defense appears to be pretty rugged despite the loss of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. The last might be difficult to judge, given the limitations of Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.


The second half was totally nondescript, so maybe the Giants are not that good as it seemed late in the first half, but they appear to have the potential to go deep into the post season again.


Anyway, the NFL is here, whether I’m ready or not.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Walk-on Rechule contributes for SU


Another positive coming out of Syracuse University’s opening football loss to Northwestern Saturday:


Kickoff specialist Niko Rechul showed a big leg, recording one touchback and getting the ball high inside the five on a couple of other kicks.


Rechul, a native of Munich, Germany, is a testament to persistence, and maybe a good example for any athlete. He made the team as a walk-on before the spring of 2006, but didn’t get on the field at all the last two seasons. He didn’t walk away, and now, he could be an important part of the team. A solid kicking game becomes even more important when a team is operating with a very slim margin, and SU is indeed operating with a very slim margin.


If it has taken Rechul a while to get into a game, it isn’t because he isn’t a good athlete. He has the soccer MVP at Huntington High School on Long Island and also played lacrosse, tennis, ran the 400 meters and wrestled. His brother Dawid <cq> was a wrestler at Harvard for the U.S. National team.





Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SU's deep hole got deeper

Watching the Syracuse University football team in its opener against Northwestern Saturday was a bit painful.


Painful because I didn’t see a lot that made me think the Orange are going to climb out of that deep hole they are in any time soon.


I hope I’m wrong about that. SU did play competent football for much of the game, but not winning football. Right now, SU doesn’t appear to have anyone who scares opposing defenses. There was never a feeling that the Orange were about to explode or come up with a big play. There were a few Saturday – Curtis Brinkley’s 28-yard run, Delone Carter’s 32-yard run – but not nearly enough. And quarterback Andrew Robinson had an ordinary game – not helped by several drops by his receivers – that turned into a disaster when he was picked off for a touchdown by Wildcat safety Brendan Smith late in the third quarter. That made it 24-10, and with SU’s lack of production on offense, it was all over.


Signs of hope? Brinkley, Carter and fellow running back Paul Hogue had their moments, and the SU defense did make some plays. By the way, former Thomas R. Proctor star Vincenzo Giruzzi made nine tackles, had a sack and recovered a fumble from his new position at quick end, and his former high school teammate, Nick Santiago, had three tackles at defensive tackle.


However, that hole the Orange are in got a little deeper Saturday, and there are no guarantees against Akron, which played pretty well for a half against Wisconsin Saturday.