As Big East teams begin practicing again, I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. We continue with ...
Start date: Today.
Predicted finish at media days: Seventh.
Biggest storyline: Can Syracuse rebound and get back to a bowl game? The Orange took a step back last year after a breakthrough 2010. After moving to 5-2 after a huge win against West Virginia on a Friday night, they lost five straight to close the season. Coach Doug Marrone has basically done an evaluation of himself and everybody else in the program to try and correct the mistakes of the past. Spring practice was closed in order to make sure his players were completely focused. He is taking his team on the road next week for some military style training camp. All of this with an eye toward extra motivation of his team. This is not going to be an easy season, not with such a tough nonconference schedule ahead. But Marrone is doing whatever he can to catch the minds and the ears of his players, so they can put 5-7 in the rearview mirror.
Biggest question marks: Who is going to step up at running back? If the season were to start today, Jerome Smith would take the first snap but that does not mean he is going to end up being the starter. There is going to be plenty of competition at that position because, as Marrone says, "We need better production out of that position." Playmaker Ashton Broyld is going to work some at running back, and there are also Adonis Ameen-Moore, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Steve Rene. Another question concerning the offense is: how will Broyld be used to help the Orange get more big plays? Marrone has talked about doing things a little differently on offense this year to make the Orange less predictable. What exactly that will be remains to be seen. Defensively, the biggest question is along the defensive line. Depth has to be developed, and players have to step up with Mikhail Marinovich, Chandler Jones and Torrey Ball gone.
Who needs to step up: Broyld. I do not think I am the only one with high expectations for Broyld, given everything we have heard about the freshman coming in. If Broyld is as good and athletic as advertised, he has the potential to get the Orange some big plays on offense, something that has been missing for several years now. Big plays on offense translate into bigger things for the offense, and can potentially help Syracuse win more games this year.