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FB : Syracuse hopes extra preparation during bye week will help clinch bowl eligibility

first_img Comments Under head coach Doug Marrone, Syracuse has never lost a game coming out of a bye week.The Orange took down Akron 28-14 in 2009. It upset South Florida 13-9 in Tampa, Fla. in 2010. And earlier this year, SU routed No. 11 West Virginia 49-23. Throw in Syracuse’s Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State last year after more than a month off, and Marrone is a perfect 4-0 with the extra time for preparation.And he believes the bye week is almost always a huge edge.‘I’ve always felt that if you have extra time and you manage that time well and do the right things, it’s always going to be an advantage for you,’ Marrone said. ‘The only time I would really be concerned is if you’re really on a roll, which we’re not.’And for that reason, Marrone and his players said this second bye week of the season came at a very opportune time for the Orange. Since that win over West Virginia, SU has lost three straight games, the last a 37-17 setback at home to South Florida. But Syracuse (5-5, 1-4 Big East) has had an extra week to prepare for its game at noon Saturday against Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2) in the Carrier Dome. And that could give the Orange a much-needed edge both physically and mentally come game time.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘For us, it came at a very good time when we were able to take a step back and really evaluate things, such as why I’ve said and believed in my heart that we’ve practiced well and then not executed well,’ Marrone said. ‘Now we have a better sense of what we have to do to improve and a better sense of how far we actually fell during the course of the season.’While the Orange did get a couple days off from practice to rest and get healthy, Marrone decided to take a different approach during the week than he had throughout most of the season.Rather having the starters on both sides, practice against scout teams composed mostly of second-team players, Syracuse’s first offense and first defense battled head-to-head during the week off.‘That’s great,’ senior defensive end Chandler Jones said. ‘I’m very happy coach Marrone decided to do that. … Just making us compete again, it’s very competitive going against ones and going against that first-team offense.’That’s part of what the Orange players seemed to like about the bye weeks under Marrone. There was some extra downtime, but for the most part, the intensity in practices doesn’t change.And for this week off in particular, it allowed SU to pinpoint some of the issues that were contributing to the losing skid.‘It gave us a chance to really sit back and see what the problems were and really analyze everything that happened, why we lost a couple times,’ sophomore defensive back Jeremi Wilkes said. ‘Definitely it helped out. Now, we’re just getting back into it.’Some of the players said they have more confidence heading into the matchup with Cincinnati knowing how much success the team has had coming out of bye weeks. Strong safety Shamarko Thomas’ face lit up with a smile as he reminisced about the win over the Mountaineers earlier this year.‘It’s because Coach Marrone gets us right off a bye week,’ Thomas said. ‘He gets us more hungry. He makes us work harder and gets everything straight. The bye week helps us a lot to settle down, calm down and just teach all the basics and get everybody’s mind right.’Marrone said the key to the extra week off is managing that extra time and working on the right things. For this bye, the focus was on figuring out how the team was practicing so well but couldn’t get that success to translate into wins on the field.If it finally translates Saturday against the Bearcats, Syracuse will have that elusive sixth win that clinches bowl eligibility.‘The structure of (Marrone’s) bye week has proven to be successful,’ senior corner back Kevyn Scott said. ‘Hopefully, it shows out there on Saturday and we go out there and play a great football game.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 25, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img read more