Syracuse picks up pace as training camp rolls on

Coach Doug Marrone said it when his players were wearing helmets

and shorts, and repeated the message when they were in full pads.

He’s focusing on the overall progress of the Syracuse Orange – and

little else this – early in camp.

Syracuse held its first practice in full equipment on Friday,

the same day the annual fanfest took place. Indeed, there is a new

feeling around Syracuse Football, one of desperation and a

much-needed fresh start.

That said, inclement weather forced the activities to be moved

to inside the Carrier Dome, so all didn’t go completely as


But the Orange are hitting now. That’s a good start.

”I think it’s a little bit tougher transition the first time

you put pads on,” Marrone said. ”I think people think you put

pads on, and you go out right away and play. It takes a little bit

of time to get used to the pads and go out there and hit.”

The Orange went 5-7 last season, 1-6 in the Big East. And

perhaps that record was still floating around in the fans’ minds

Friday. Because only about a thousand fans showed up.

Those brave souls witnessed as many highlights as mistakes. But

Marrone said that’s expected at this point.

Friday’s practice was the Orange’s fifth in the preseason, and

since the first day, Marrone has said repeatedly his team isn’t

close to where it needs to be. He hasn’t spoken much about

individual performances, only the team’s effort overall.

Syracuse lost its final five games of the season to miss a bowl

last year, but a more unpredictable offense could shake things up a

bit. During a scrimmage toward the end of the two-hour practice,

Syracuse ran a play that would make highlight reels during the


Wide receiver Jarrod West jumped up to haul in a long pass from

backup quarterback Charley Loeb in the left-front corner of the end

zone, fighting off coverage from safety Durell Eskridge and

cornerback Jaston George. Clearly, despite it being only a

practice, the level of competition among the players was noticeably


”Part pads, part fans,” Marrone said. ”It’s a good


Earlier in the day, quarterback Ryan Nassib connected with wide

receiver Alec Lemon for a 60-yard touchdown pass down the left


Freshman Ashton Broyld continued to work with the running backs,

and took some snaps in the wildcat formation. The freshman ran for

10 yards during one play, but then the Orange botched a handoff in

another variation of the wildcat and the ball hit the turf.

Broyld is a quick, athletic threat that Syracuse needs. The

Orange will look to use him in a variety of ways, both out of the

backfield and as a wideout. Of course, he still has some learning

to do, but so does the entire team.

”We’ve got a long way to go,” Marrone said. ”I understand

that already, so we’re just concentrating on the progress.”

The Orange have two practices Saturday and one Sunday before

heading up to Fort Drum all next week to train and practice with

members of the military. It’ll be a challenging week filled with

different drills and regimented workouts. The time away will also

force the players to focus solely on the game and their chemistry


”I think it’ll be very important for our kids to get up there

and just totally focus on football in a different environment, with

a little bit of adversity with what we’re going to do with the

military,” Marrone said. ”I think that part of it is probably


Syracuse will play host to Northwestern in the opener on Sept.