Syracuse Football: 3 Reasons the Orange Will Improve in 2012
For a team that won just five games last year, and only one inside the Big East, it's hard to envision much improvement with a decent amount of the same pieces on both sides of the ball. That doesn't even take into account the loss of first-round pick Chandler Jones.
Syracuse enters Doug Marrone's fourth season in search of answers, in what could be their final season in the Big East.
With that being said, I actually do believe that the Orange could show some improvement and make their way back to a bowl game.
Let's take a look at three reasons why.
New Offensive Scheme
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If you ask Doug Marrone, he'll tell you that his team gave up way too many big plays in 2011.
A big reason for a number of those plays? The zone-read offensive scheme with dual-threat quarterbacks.
Trying to change their luck, the Orange have implemented the same system for 2012 and hope to get similar results with that big-play potential at any time.
Ryan Nassib passed for over 2,700 yards last season and with the return of standout Alec Lemon, Jarrod West and Marcus Sales, he should have a chance to match that yardage total again this year.
Add in the additional run-designed plays for Nassib and the 'Cuse attack may be pretty dynamic this year.
An Improved Defense
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Yes, the loss of Chandler Jones will be felt up front, but with four solid linebackers returning along with a secondary that is oozing with potential, the sore spot of 2011 for the Orange could make some big improvements this season.
Throw in the hiring of former NFL coach Donnie Henderson to coach the secondary and former MAC assistant Steve Morrison to coach the linebackers and the potential for improvement really is there.
As a whole, the unit should be faster which should help prevent them from getting burned by various big plays for a second consecutive year.
Shamarko Thomas (pictured above) leads an experienced secondary that will play a huge role in determining whether or not the defense shows tangible improvement or if the unit remains the Achilles' heel of this team.
The Element of Surprise
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Every year, there seems to be a team that comes out of nowhere and takes the Big East by storm.
The perfect example you ask?
Just take a look at Louisville in 2011 who was led by a true freshman QB in Teddy Bridgewater that nearly took the Cardinals to a BCS Bowl.
It is just a part of what makes the league so unpredictable, and with the loss of West Virginia, nobody is quite sure who will be crowned as league champions in December.
Sure, Syracuse may have a lot of holes on paper, but Louisville supposedly did last year too.
That's why they play the games, titles aren't decided on paper.
Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride.