With a handful of non-conference opponents who most of are not very familiar with on the schedule, now might be a good time to check in on some of our upcoming opponents...
Syracuse - opened camp yesterday and all eyes were on Greg Paulus (the white guy in the picture on the right). Paulus, after flirting with several other schools, transferred to Syracuse to play one season of football. He was highly recruited out of high school but chose to play basketball at Duke (again, pictured right).
Paulus will be battling with redshirt freshman, Ryan Nassib for the starting job as Syracuse rebuilds.
"I have no problem at all with the coach putting the best player out there, no matter who it is," Nassib said. "It doesn't matter if they brought Brett Favre in here. I'm just taking it like it's another recruit coming in. It's more competition for the position. That's kind of how football goes, you know what I mean? Kids come in and compete for the same position."
From the Gopher perspective we will either be facing a redshirt freshman in his second game as a D1 starter, or we'll be facing a fifth year senior who hasn't thrown a football in five years. Win-Win-Win!
- With a new coaching staff, Syracuse is getting the message out that they have a new and improved strength and conditioning program that will make their entire team bigger, faster and stronger. The same message was put out by Minnesota in 2007 and Michigan in 2008. It may be true but there hasn't been enough time for it to translate into wins, although DeLeone Carter (pictured right) looks like he is fairly well conditioned.
Another standard for new coaching staff is the departure of players on the roster. By this count, 16 players have left since the arrival of Doug Marrone. Not a big deal, just sharing the information.
- Here is ESPN's Big East blogger's preseason All Big East team. Syracuse is represented by DT-Arthur Jones and P-Rob Long.
"We'll probably have three players or maybe even four who will divide the reps at quarterback," Calhoun said. "Jefferson's in our plans, but for the first couple of weeks we want a bunch of players involved at every position."
If anybody were to unseat Jefferson, who started games six through 12 as a true freshman last year, it will likely be Asher Clark who was the starting tailback a year ago. In the Air Force, option offense having a high school QB, turned RB probably isn't a terrible scenario.
Calhoun indicated that if Clark wins the battle at quarterback, he would look for another position for Jefferson to play in hopes of having his best players on the field. "Everybody's fighting for a job," Jefferson said. "No one is set on the depth chart right now. Connor (sophomore Connor Dietz) and I took most of the snaps at quarterback. Asher took snaps at both quarterback and tailback." Calhoun hasn't ruled out Clark playing both positions in one game. It should be interesting to see how this plays out and what the Falcon backfield will look like on Sept. 12th.
Calhoun indicated that if Clark wins the battle at quarterback, he would look for another position for Jefferson to play in hopes of having his best players on the field.
"Everybody's fighting for a job," Jefferson said. "No one is set on the depth chart right now. Connor (sophomore Connor Dietz) and I took most of the snaps at quarterback. Asher took snaps at both quarterback and tailback."
Calhoun hasn't ruled out Clark playing both positions in one game.
It should be interesting to see how this plays out and what the Falcon backfield will look like on Sept. 12th.
On the other side of the ball, starting MLB, Ken Lamendola revealed that he played most of last season with a separated shoulder and a hernia.
"It sucked," Lamendola said. "Especially filling a fullback head-on. I’d try not to think about it, but it’s there. You know it’s coming."I bet it sucked, I tackled a fullback once in high school and ended up on the other team's highlight film (true story).
- CB-Reggie Rambert has been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of academy standards. It is anybody's guess if he'll be suited up at The Vault.
- Injuries are piling up for the Falcons at some key positions. WR-Kyle Halderman will be out six weeks with a broken collar bone. And another injury that could prove to be major if he misses any time is a hammy issue for OG-Nick Charles. Charles is a preseason All-Mountain West player.
Cal - the final non-conference game before we head to Northwestern for some Big Ten action. The one to always pay attention to is Jahvid Best. The Heisman candidate is described here as "a human blur who won the state 100-meter title as a high school senior and now routinely zooms past Pac-10 tacklers." It is a good article talking about the types of grueling workouts Best has put himself through for years to put him where he is today and it talked about the sacrifices his parents made for him along the way (hopefully it will "pay off" for them).
The Bests worried about the public schools in Richmond. So they took extra shifts at work - he manages an auto-body supply store, she's a computer specialist for the Department of Veteran Affairs - and decided to follow the private-school route.
Not surprisingly, young Jahvid - the name combines "Jah," or "most high/almighty" in Caribbean culture (his dad is from St. Lucia), and the last syllable of David - did not always approve. He hated wearing the St. John school uniform, especially when his neighborhood friends teased him after he came home every afternoon. Best recalled getting in trouble at St. John for having his shirt untucked, or for removing it altogether while playing basketball.
By the time he reached Salesian High in Richmond, he had a fresh perspective. He met some public-school kids who were attracting college recruiters, like he was - and then those kids vanished from the radar, derailed by academic or social troubles. Best began to appreciate his structured education.
"I always wondered why I couldn't be like the rest of my friends," he said. "Now I'm thankful for it."
I am anxious to watch Best at The Vault, but let's all hope he gets bottled up for about 66 yards of total offense.
Ezeff lectured his teammates to become more mature - "We gotta grow up and step up!" he shouted at one point - and reminded them of their goal to win the Pac-10 title.I'm sure it was just kids being kids, but this is probably a good wake-up call if they want to seriously challenge USC for the Pac-10 crown.