Welcome to the Anti-Preview for Syracuse. The Fighting Irish are finally bowl eligible after surviving a 27-21 game against the Naval Academy. The Irish won the game, but paid a price as two key members of the team were injured and will not be able to play the last two games of the season. Of course, those two players are Brian Smith and Michael Floyd. They will be missed for sure, but hopefully their absence will allow a couple of other players to rise to the occasion and better prepare themselves for the 2009 season.
This will also be the last home game of the 2008 season. The Fighting Irish are looking to close it out with a bang and create some kind of momentum heading into the game at Southern Cal.
Syracuse. The Orange come to South Bend with a 2-8 record with wins over 1-AA Northeastern and Louisville. They are giving up 33.9 points a game and are allowing over 200 yards passing and over 200 yards rushing a game as well. On offense they are just as dreary. They are scoring 18.3 points a game and look awful doing it. Their lone bright spot on the offensive side has been the play of senior running back Curtis Brinkley who has 1060 yards and 6 touchdowns, and perhaps an even better stat than the 1000+ yards this season, is his 5.2 yards per carry.
It's going to be hard to gauge the type of emotions that the Orange players will be having knowing that their Head Coach has already been fired, but I think it is safe to say that I expect them to come out as fired up and ready to play Notre Dame as most teams that come to South Bend are at any other point. Weis may be right. Syracuse will probably play very, very loose- but will it be enough to overcome the rest of their shortcomings?
What should you be drinking? In spirit of our opponent, I give you Blue Moon Pale Ale. I normally despise people putting fruit in their beer. I just don't understand the meaning of putting a lime in a Corona, other than to hide the taste of an awful beer, and I suggest you try Tecate anyways. Lot's better. But I digress. However, a slice of orange is not out of the question with a glass or bottle of Blue Moon. The peel may accentuate the already present orange spice found in this beer as noted by The Beer Snob:
Blue Moon is a Belgian-style white beer. The beer poured to a cloudyIf you are looking for another drink that isn't classified as a beer, but want to keep your dignity as an alcoholic and are willing to keep the orange theme, I suggest you mix Sunkist with your favorite brand of gin. Might I recommend that you just use Tanqueray. The great thing about gin is its ability to knock you off your rocker while minimizing the effects of a hangover because of the detoxifying agents found in the liquor.
orange-copper color. The cloudiness comes from the unfiltered nature of this
ale. The color can only be called extremely appropriate, as I smelled orange
before my nose even neared the glass.
What should you be eating? This may take some time, but if you are an early riser on gameday- or if you have nothing to do on Friday, try roasting a hog. Seriously. This kind of keeps with the orange/Hawaiian theme that we have going into this game. Kind of, but honestly, pig is good. I'll eat that hog from the rooter to the tooter. Some very easy steps to roasting a hog can be found here. However I am also supplying you with this video, and this video if you have a day and a half of nothing else to do:
What should you be wearing? Still keeping the spirit of a certain visitor to Notre Dame this weekend in mind, wear a freaking lei. In fact, if you have a Hawaiian shirt or even a grass skirt- wear those too. It takes a real man to wear a grass skirt in 30 degree weather. Maybe you'll attract this kind girl...
What freshman will have the biggest impact? Robert Blanton. Why Blanton? Because he is going to start over 5th year senior Terrail Lambert. Lambert is hurt with a bad ankle that kept him out of the game against Navy and more than likely it will sideline him as well for Syracuse. Blanton has passed Gary Gray on the depth chart and if Lambert wasn't a 5th year senior, Blanton would have been starting about 4 games ago. He plays with an absolute cockiness and swagger that is worthy of wearing the #12 jersey (Ricky Watters). He also has a throwback mentality to playing the game that is not seen in most players in college football, and almost zero when it comes to defensive backs and corners in general. Against a far inferior opponent, Blanton could have a great game with solid tackling and an INT or two. This kid is well on his way to becoming a difference maker for 2009.
What offensive player needs to step it up? Duval Kamara. With the loss of Michael Floyd and a certainty that Golden Tate will be double if not triple covered for most of the game, Duval Kamara has the chance to redeem himself for what has been a disappointing season in regards to his play, after a great season last year as a freshman. Kamara only has 15 receptions for 164 yards and 1 touchdown this year. With a great freshman class of WR's coming in next year to go along with all of our current wide receivers minus David Grimes, Kamara has to prove that he is still a dynamic player if he wants to hold of guys like John Goodman, Deion Walker, Shaq Evans, and others for significant playing time in 2009. This is his time to shine. He will certainly get the chance this week and next week against U$C. I'll go out on a limb and say that Kamara will get 50% of his production thus far this year on Saturday. 7 grabs for about 80 yards and a TD. Calling the bank shot here.
What defensive player needs to step it up? Maurice Crum. You thought I was going to go with Toryan Smith, didn't you? Maybe next week. This week it is going to be all about the 5th year senior that has been a 4 year starter, two-time captain, and leader of a very improved defense. With every tackle, Crum is closing in on becoming one of the top tacklers in Notre Dame history. Crum is often criticized heavily by a lot of fans, but what some people fail to realize is that he has been playing out of position for three years. Crum has been, and still is, more of an outside linebacker in stature and in skill. But, he brings everything he has on gameday and it would be hard to find anyone on the team that plays as hard as what Mo Crum does. Going against a poor team that does one thing decent, in rushing the ball, I think Crum will have a tremendous game in terms of tackles and in terms of keeping the emotions pumping throughout the defense. Saturday will be an emotional day for Crum, and I think he, we, and the team needs and will get a great game from him.
What special teams player needs to step it up? Golden Tate. People are waiting. Waiting for Tate to have the type of game returning kicks that make good players, great players. The way to do that is easy, yet so very difficult. He has to take one to the house, and the the other returns have to look as though they will even if they only go 30 or 40 yards. I think Tate can do it, I'm just not sure if he will. He needs help and the blocking has been less than stellar and he should have one if it wasn't for an error in judgement by Leonard Gordon against Boston College. Could this be the game that the Golden legend redefines itself? Could it?
For the final time. This will be the final home game for a number of seniors and 5th year seniors. Those players are:
- David Grimes WR #11
- Mike Turkovich LT #77
- Justin Brown DE #94
- Pat Kuntz DE/NT #96
- Maurice Crum LB #40
- Steve Quinn LB #48
- Terrail Lambert CB #20
- Ray Herring S #6
- David Bruton S #27
It could also be the last game for a few seniors that have another year of eligibility left. A couple of these guys may return for a fifth year, but nothing is set in stone as of yet. At Notre Dame, a player that seeks a 5th year must have graduated and be accepted into a graduate program at Notre Dame. Those players are:
- Kyle McCarthy S #28 (The most likely to return)
- Kevin Washington LB #42
- Scott Smith LB #41
- Asaph Schwaap FB #44
- Evan Sharpley QB #13
This will be an emotional game for ALL of these players and those senior walk-ons such as Mike "The Dictator" Anello. If you are going to the game, be sure to stick around for the final salute to these Loyal Sons of Notre Dame. They have ALL earned it from Notre Dame's alumni, subway alumni, and students. Love Thee Notre Dame!
So who's going to win? This could be a defining game for the Irish. It sounds funny, I know. But, with a lot of chatter on the message boards and the media about the shortcomings of this team when it comes to putting teams away, the Irish need to pound this Syracuse team into orange juice. Syracuse has been a little "pesky" (a term used well by Dome & Domer) for a few teams this season in the first half of the games. Notre Dame needs none of that, and won't have it all. IRISH 48-13. Weis finally takes a team and has them destroy an opponent for 4 quarters, while allowing all the seniors to get some playing time at the end of the game.
(Irish Illustrated's McStug)