Syracuse University football head coach Doug Marrone is heading to Minnesota this week with a 1-2 team he is looking to improve, knowing the challenge that lies ahead.
“Obviously, we have a challenging schedule. It gets very challenging this week going to play a Minnesota team,” said Marrone.
The upcoming game against the Golden Gophers is the Orange’s first technical road match of the season. Syracuse has not won on the road since last October, when they defeated the Tulane Green Wave on October 8th, 2011, in Louisiana, 37-34.
Unlike their win against Tulane, the Orange will be playing in front of a “pretty much sold out crow”, according to Marrone.
Minnesota has yet to lose this season, coming into their match-up with Syracuse at 3-0. Their previous win versus Western Michigan saw the technical backup quarterback, Max Shortell, come in after starting quarterback MarQueis Gray was injured, and throw for three touchdowns.
“I think that to label Max Shortell as a backup would be unfair from what I’ve seen on film,” expressed Marrone. “He’s outstanding, the throws that he’s made. He’s very capable.”
But Marrone sees all sides of the ball, consistently emphasizing that a team has to perform in all phases of the game. To the Orange head coach, the Golden Gophers accomplish that.
With the offense in good hands with the aforementioned Shortell, Marrone said this of Minnesota’s defense. “Out of all the teams I’ve seen from one year to the next, they’re the most improved team that I’ve seen, up to this point, from last year to this year, on the defensive side of the ball.”
Marrone added that Minnesota is also “sound on special teams”, making this a strong non-conference test for Syracuse.
“This will be a new challenge for the 2012 [Orange] team, going into that type of environment, making sure that we’re focused on what we have to do to compete and win a football game,” said Marrone.
As far as the status of the team, according to Marrone, wide receiver Adrian Flemming and left tackle Justin Pugh “will be back” for the Orange’s upcoming home match-up with the Pittsburgh Panthers on October 5th. Both Flemming and Pugh will be making their season debuts, along with their home debuts and Big East Conference debuts all at the same time.
Pugh has been rehabbing since Fall camp from a shoulder injury, while Flemming has been working back from what the university was calling a “lower body injury”. Flemming appeared to have injured his left ankle during Syracuse’s scrimmage that culminated their time at Fort Drum. The university has neither confirmed nor denied that Flemming’s “lower body injury” was indeed his left ankle.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end John Raymon, who has been waiting to see if his waiver would be approved by the NCAA, was denied the right to play for Syracuse this season this past Tuesday evening, according to Marrone.
Raymon had transferred from the University of Iowa to Syracuse University, which normally means that he would have to sit out a season before being activated to play for the Orange. The waiver would have placed him on the field this season, something that Marrone had hoped would happen.
“The NCAA should have granted that waiver,” said Marrone. “[I] don’t agree with it or understand it,” Marrone continued in reference to the denial to play placed on Raymon for this season.
“[I’m] not gonna discuss details…but I will say this, John Raymon absolutely has done nothing wrong,” expressed Marrone.
Also on the defensive end, cornerback Brandon Reddish has a “lower body injury that occurred during the Stony Brook game”, according to Marrone, who says Reddish is day-to-day.
Hear more from Marrone’s pre-Minnesota press conference here: