With Paul Pasqualoni returning to the Carrier Dome for the first time since parting ways with the Syracuse Orange after the 2004 season, past and present will be on the field of the Carrier Dome for the first time.
In Pasqualoni’s time with the Orange, they advanced to nine bowl games, winning six.
Under current head coach Doug Marrone, Syracuse has achieved one bowl berth in his first three seasons, winning the contest.
As both the UConn Huskies and Syracuse Orange enter this game struggling and under .500, both coaches took a look at their opponent.
“I’m sure they’re disappointed with the amount of wins they have, as we are,” said Pasqualoni.
When speaking on the Orange, he zeroed in on one specific player for both the offense and defense. On offense, he spotlighted center Macky MacPherson. MacPherson has helped slow defensive pressure during the season, but most recently struggled against the pass rush of Rutgers.
Defensively, Pasqualoni specifically mentioned linebacker Marquis Spruill. Spruill has played in all of the team’s six games, gaining 37 tackles, giving him the third most by Orange defenders. Of his 37 tackles, 3.5 were for a loss, and Spruill got to the opposing quarterback for one sack so far. As Syracuse goes father into their season, Spruill is only getting better, getting after the run and minimizing gains by the opposition.
Outside of what happens on the field with the actual game, Pasqualoni stated that his return is “…not gonna be some big sentimental thing for me.”
“We’re not going up to central New York to pick apples, ride a hay wagon,” Pasqualoni continued. “This is a business trip.”
On the opposite side of the field, the man facing the former head of the Orange will continue to try to create his own positive history with Syracuse, as he works to elevate the team higher than their current 2-4 state.
“Coming up, again it’s a short week, we got a lot of work to do,” said Marrone. “I think the University of Connecticut’s a very good football team. I’ve watched all the tape. There’s plays out there that they have an opportunity to make.
"At times they haven’t made it, but they’re a lot better football team than their record indicates.”
The Huskies currently reside at 3-4 overall and have yet to win a game in the conference, starting 0-2 in the Big East this season.
What UConn’s record fails to show is the effectiveness of their defense, which has been holding their opposition to under 20 points on average.
Five defensive linemen have achieved at least one sack, with the linebacker core tacking on eight sacks of their own between two players.
Their leader in tackles, linebacker Yawin Smallwood, has more than 30 total tackles separating him from Syracuse’s top tackler; Smallwood has 75, while Orange linebacker Siriki Diabate has achieved 44.
“You may get one play, but you’re not gonna get that again during the course of the game,” stated Marrone. “That’s what they do an excellent job [at]. They’ll be able to stop ya, force ya to go to something else.
"Schematically if you’re in good shape, they’re gonna have something called. Now they’re gonna take that away and you’re gonna have to go to something else.”
Two teams, boasting of strong defenses and sputtering offenses will meet Friday, October 19th, at 8pm Eastern in the Carrier Dome.
No matter how the game ends, the coach with ties in their history to Syracuse will get the victory. At least four quarters will decide if that win will go to Pasqualoni, who used to hold the reins, or Marrone, who is attempting to steer the Orange to a more positive future.