FB : Take control: SU looks for faster start against Rhode Island

first_imgSyracuse practiced for a Wake Forest defense that never made an appearance.The Orange’s game plans for a defense with soft coverage and basic pressure packages — things offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said the coaching staff saw on film from all 12 Demon Deacons games last year — became futile. Syracuse lost five yards total in the first quarter on offense when they presented a more attack-oriented defense than was expected.‘You always have things that kind of protect yourself,’ Hackett said. ‘Things that you think that you’re good at that the guys can execute right. And those are the things that we ended up having to go to down the road.‘And it was one of those things that you wish we could have got to a little early.’It took Syracuse three-plus quarters to adjust to the crazy, attacking defense Wake Forest brought and to pick up a last-ditch win in overtime. And with Football Championship Subdivision opponent Rhode Island (0-0) entering the Carrier Dome this week, the Orange (1-0) wants to get out to a much faster start in all facets. Wake Forest had more than double the amount of plays and time of possession as SU in a lopsided first half last Thursday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhile the Rams may look like an easy win for the Orange on paper, Saturday’s game against URI (4:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable Sports) is a chance for Syracuse to mend the mistakes it made in its miraculous first victory.That begins with a faster start.‘Just coming out excited,’ safety Shamarko Thomas said. ‘Coming out excited and just pushing each other and competing more. And have faster tempo in the game.’Syracuse players said the coaching staff’s main emphasis this week was coming out and playing fast in the first quarter on Saturday. Hackett said he tells the players that starting fast has to become a way of life in team meetings. A way of life all the way down to the manner in which they eat — having the best breakfast they can in the morning and then going after the day.Slow starts were a problem for Syracuse last season, too, especially on offense. The Orange was often stagnant in the first half last season, failing to score in the first quarter in three wins — including one against Maine, an FCS team. Two years ago, Syracuse trailed at the half against Maine. Rhode Island comes from the same conference as the Black Bears, the Colonial Athletic Association.The Orange scored double-digit points in the first quarter in just one of its eight wins last year.‘We’re not necessarily known for coming out of the gate and doing great things,’ Hackett said. ‘That’s something our team has to be better at, and every one of them know that. And that’s a big goal for us.’With Rhode Island, Syracuse faces the same conundrum that it just faced against Wake Forest. Although the majority of college teams started the season last weekend, URI had a first-week bye.So just like last week, SU has to work with potentially outdated film. The Rams will be debuting a new defensive coordinator on Saturday, too.The game is also sandwiched between nonconference games against two power-conference opponents. SU has to put behind the adrenaline rush that came with last Thursday’s win and avoid looking ahead to Southern California next weekend.All that while also trying to get out to a faster start.The matchup has the makings of a so-called trap game, although running back Antwon Bailey said last week’s performance is a reminder that will keep SU focused.‘We still got a lot to prove,’ Bailey said. ‘We got the crap beat out of us for three quarters, so I don’t think — trap game won’t be a problem around here at all.’Defensively, a fast start will depend on increased communication. Rhode Island features a dual-threat quarterback, Steve Probst, who ran for 600 yards last season.Thomas said SU needs to talk more on defense when facing a quarterback who can run as well as pass. The secondary needs to communicate with each other so the cornerbacks know if they need to break off from their wide receiver if Probst is scrambling.‘I might be sticking the receiver and I don’t know it’s a run,’ cornerback Keon Lyn said. ‘So as a defense you got to communicate, talk out there so I can get off my block earlier, get off my keys, get off the player and go make a play on the ball.’And on offense, Hackett said the difference will be making adjustments faster. Rhode Island has shown a couple of unique looks on film. Plus, URI may base its game plan off of what it saw from SU last week.But Hackett said there’s only so much he and the coaching staff can do to prepare. He can’t ever tell whether Syracuse will come out of the tunnel playing fast. That’s just going to depend on the players.‘I sure as heck hope so,’ Hackett said. ‘I think I thought we were for Wake Forest, but you never know until the lights come on and people are in the stands.’mcooperj@syr.edu Comments Published on September 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjrcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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