Sweet Redemption: How Greg Paulus Is Proving The Doubters Wrong

Dan Kelley@DanKelleyWritesCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2009

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Greg Paulus #2 of the Syracuse Orangemen rushes the ball during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium  September 12, 2009 in State College, Pennsylvania. Penn State won 28-7. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

“Wonder how much fans in the seats have to do with this.”

“I wish we were opening with Syracuse.”

“Won’t be easy for him to read zones and pick up blitzes.”

A handful of quotes, offered up under the veil of anonymity by three Big East coaches after the announcement back in August that Greg Paulus would open the season as the starting quarterback for the Syracuse Orange.

One coach even went as far as to say that Paulus would be “a spectacular failure.”

Looks like Doug Marrone must know his team better than these anonymous rival coaches, after all.

After playing solid, if not spectacular football in his first two games of the season; Greg Paulus had a breakout performance in Syracuse’s win over Northwestern on Saturday that was reminiscent of his high school days at Christian Brothers Academy.

Paulus scorched the Northwestern defense through the air, to the tune of 346 passing yards and two touchdowns while completing 24-of-36 passes. He also displayed his athleticism and savvy on a 10-yard scramble to the end zone that put the Orange up 10-0 in the first quarter.

In more ways than just the total yardage though, Paulus’ game was a sharp contrast to the previous two performances because he was finally able to take some shots down the field. Against the Wildcats, he threw for an impressive 14.4 yards per completion compared to only 8.8 and 7.5 yards per completion against Minnesota and Penn State, respectively.

Never was this new found explosiveness more obvious than late in the first quarter when he hit a streaking Mike Williams for a 66-yard touchdown after a beautifully choreographed play fake that helped Williams get past the entire Northwestern secondary.

Williams was a tremendous asset for Paulus all night, making the Orange quarterback look brilliant while making the opposing secondary look lost. The all-Big East caliber receiver caught 11 passes, for a career high 204 yards and two touchdowns, including a late score in the fourth quarter that tied the game up at 34.

The way things have gone thus far this season in the Big East has to make you wonder why any coach not named Brian Kelly or Jim Leavitt would go out of their way to criticize another team’s quarterback.

  • West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown looked great against Liberty and East Carolina, but in the Mountaineer’s contest with Auburn this weekend Brown threw four interceptions and only found the end zone once.
  • The quarterback Rutgers coach Greg Schiano opted to start in their week one game with Cincinnati, Dom Natale, managed to throw three interceptions on only 12 pass attempts against the Bearcats before losing his job in the second half to true freshman Tom Savage.
  • In less than two games, UConn starting quarterback Zach Frazer has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. He threw three picks and two touchdowns in a close win over Ohio, and threw one interception against North Carolina before leaving the game with an injury.
  • Louisville quarterback Justin Burke started the year by throwing two interceptions with no touchdowns against FCS school Indiana State.
  • The much maligned Bill Stull in Pittsburgh has had a solid season so far against weak competition but has never impressed as the Panther’s starting quarterback in the past. Then he struggled in preseason camp and could have lost his starting job.  Given that was all head coach Dave Wannstedt had to go on at the time, criticizing another team’s starting quarterback decision would seem unwise.

Though Orange fans can only speculate who had the audacity to utter those anonymous criticisms of Doug Marrone’s decision, they can at least take solace in knowing that Greg Paulus and the rest of the Orange will have the opportunity to make each of those coaches eat their words once Big East play begins.

The Big East better be ready.