Cincinnati has a tough game coming up with the Syracuse Orange Saturday. As a way to get ready for the game, I decided to sit down over email with my good friend Brian from Orange 44. He interviewed me on his site, which you can find here. You best find it. You can also follow Brian on twitter. I do it, and so should you. It's fun for the whole family. You should also follow me, because I'm very entertaining. Let's check out the man things Brian and I talked about.
BB: Give me your best explanation of what the heck is going on in the Big East this year?
BH: It's just one of those fluke years. Teams that have been in the basement have gotten significantly better (Syracuse, Louisville). Other teams have problems with key positions (USF, Connecticut). And still others have just been hot and cold. (West Virginia, Pittsburgh). Much like in basketball, on any given night any team in the league could win. It makes for fun viewing, but not earning respect on the national state. I'm not too worried about it though. This year may suck, but the league has a history of always bouncing back after years like this. Plus, it's damn entertaining.
BB: What will the key matchups be in the Syracuse / Cincinnati tilt?
BH: Probably the best matchup will be Scott Shafer and the Syracuse defense versus the Cincinnati offense as a whole. Syracuse's defense is clearly the strength of the team despite improvements in players on the offensive side. Shafer pulled out some defensive schemes for the West Virginia game they had not used previously in the season, and it seems every week these players get tougher and more skilled at stopping the opposing team's offense. Conversely Zach Collaros is injured and may or may not play. Either way, Syracuse will look to use this to their advantage either continuing to attack him and try to knock him out of the game for the day, or preying on the weakness of a backup run Cincy offense. Either way, Syracuse's offense will do enough work, but Syracuse's success rests on them preventing Cincinnati from doing the same.
BB: Is what happened with Syracuse against Pittsburgh an outlier?
BH: I've said since that game in numerous formats and to many people that it was a combination of Pittsburgh playing way over their heads (Read: Tino Sunseri got his act together) and Syracuse's defense having a bad game. People know they can play as evident by the games they have succeeded in. They did not come to play against Pitt with the same intensity that they showed at USF the week before or at West Virginia the week after. One thing that is for sure is that Doug Marrone will not allow his kids to have a let down like that again. That will certainly be true this coming weekend, especially coming off a win against the #20 team in the country.
BB: Ryan Nassib hasn't really been great this season. Has he developed as you wished, or is this season a learning experience?
BH: He's about where I think we all expected him to be. He's been great in some games (setting the school record for 5 TDs in a game against Maine), and done not much of anything in others (Colgate, West Virginia). I think a lot of it depends on the game plan and what various other team's defenses are giving him. He can take advantage of opportunities, but when the game calls for a lot of running and being physical Syracuse will obviously be running the ball and not calling his number. He generally has a great pocket presence, makes good decisions, and has a strong arm. And he has done what is necessary, in that he hasn't thrown too many picks or had too many fumbles. Right now, he's doing what needs to be done and that is fine for now. Mentally however, he gets stronger every game and is a very vocal leader on the field. Until he has an epic collapse for some reason I'll stick with him.
BB: Will it take a win Saturday for Syracuse fans to buy in fully with this team, or are they already buying tickets to Miami?
BH: I don't know what person in Syracuse isn't on the bandwagon after you beat #20 in their house and, on yeah, it is a team you haven't beaten since 2001. Sadly after the Robinson era there is still distrust that this is for real. A few more wins or hitting that magical 7th win for a bowl for Syracuse might be what it finally takes. I've known from the start of this season that this team would be even more improved since last year. And that's a totally unbiased opinion. You can tell how much better this year has been compared to the last five. It is night and day. And many people believe in Doug Marrone and what he is accomplishing so far. People are coming around. Just how many people is the big question.
BB: Mesages for Greg, bad segment, or the worst segment?
BH: Yeah, it's pretty much the worst. It's clearly a "we need to fill time so let's let random idiots and stoners jabber on" kinda thing. At least the rest of the show is funny.
BB: Finally, how do you see the game going and what is your final score?
BH: I agree that this will be a close, entertaining game. I think you probably didn't watch that West Virginia game close enough. Syracuse's defense chewed up Geno Smith and West Virginia and spit them out. And that offense has the potential to be far more explosive than Cincinnati. And I'm giving you the benefit of a healthy Zach Collaros. He isn't healthy. He's on crutches. Even if he starts how long could he last? Your backup, while decent, isn't Collaros. So the question is can Syracuse's offense score? Yes. Delone Carter is healthy, Van Chew has really come on lately as a very dependable receiver, and Syracuse is riding high with a lot of momentum heading into this game. On top of that, you picked Syracuse as a Homecoming opponent. Bad move. Syracuse is now 2-0 on the road ruining homecomings. Look for Syracuse to do the same at Cincinnati. Syracuse wins 17 to 13.