Everyone knows Troy Nunes Is an Absolute Magician. (The blog, not the statement, which was never actually verified.) Syracuse's SB Nation blog is one of the most popular on the network, and its author, Sean Keeley, has books, other blogs, seminars and even screenplays in addition to his Syracuse site. Sean took the time to answer a few of our questions about Saturday night's USF-Syracuse game. Enjoy!
1. Please make the case for Ryan Nassib being the best quarterback in the Big East.
SK: You know, I could have made this case a lot easier a month ago. Still, I'll try. Arguably the three best teams Syracuse has played so far are Northwestern, USC and Rutgers. Nassibs numbers against those three are 482 yards/4 TDs/1 INT, 322 yards/2 TDs/2 INTs, 356 yards/1 TD/ 2 INT. When the Syracuse offense is clicking, I can honestly say it's the most potent we've had since I've been writing the blog. What makes Nassib so good isn't just his abilities, which he has improved and honed over the last couple seasons, but also the fact that he has more weapons than he's ever had. Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon are All-Big East receivers, the offensive line is sturdy and there are tons of other capable guys for him to work with. When he and the Orange get out of their own way with mental mistakes, he's the best quarterback in the Big East.
2. Two years ago the Orange defense blitzed B.J. Daniels into oblivion and picked up their only win in this series. Last year the Bulls were ready for it, and Daniels had a big night. Does Syracuse have another 2010 defensive effort in them?
SK: Very possibly. This year's defense is on par with the 2010 version and a return to that kind of blitzing, attacking style that we're used to seeing from DC Scott Shafer. Brandon Sharpe has all the stats (5.5 sacks) but he garnered most of those in one game. The real threat comes from our linebackers. Dyshawn Davis and Marquis Spruill continue to be dominant but Siriki Diabate has emerged as a real star. Expect to hear those three names a lot. Also, safety Shamarko Thomas is always good for a bunch of big hits and disruptions.
3. Is the Doug Marrone rebuilding project as far along in Year 4 as everyone thinks it should be? The results haven't really been there, but he did walk into a complete shambles of a program.
SK: It's funny, if you took Year 2 of the Doug Marrone Era (8 wins, Pinstripe Bowl) and swapped it with Year 3 (5-7), no one would be complaining right now. But because he succeeded so quickly, he's become his own worst enemy. And with this season's slow start, there's been a lot of grumbling. The UConn win went a long way towards silencing those critics but they're lying in wait for the next loss. Expectations before the season were for 4-8/5-7 but that was before we saw how talented this team was. Doug will survive this season but he really needs to get this team back to a bowl game sooner than later.
4. If Mike Aresco had been the Big East commissioner 18 months ago, do you think Syracuse (and Pittsburgh and TCU and West Virginia for that matter) still be in the Big East? Do Syracuse fans really want to be in the ACC, or was it just a case of not having any faith in the previous conference leadership and needing to preserve themselves?
SK: I'll always believe that the Big East could have easily prevented the depature of Syracuse, Pitt, WVU and Notre Dame just by being proactive. Firing Marinatto and bringing in Aresco a year before the defections would have been a great sign to those schools that the conference wasn't just going to sit on its laurels. Unfortunately, at the time, the ACC offer was a no-brainer and despite the things the Big East has since done, it's still the right move for Syracuse. At the time, any Big East school who would have turned down that offer would have been nuts.
I think if you asked them, most Syracuse fans would tell you they'd prefer to have remained in the Big East but only in an ideal Big East, which is something that just never existed in the football-first world that we currently live in.
5. What will winning the Old Man Regret Cup mean to you personally and to Syracuse football? Because I honestly have no idea how our crap defense is going to slow the Orange down.
SK: I can't wait for the chance to hoist the Big East Old Man Regret Cup high above my head, drink from it and then settle into my rocking chair to think of all the mean things I said to opposing players over the years...and not feel bad about it at all because, at the end of the day, we won the Old Man Regret Cup and they didn't.
BONUS: There's a Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl and a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and a Chick-Fil-A Bowl and an Outback Bowl, so bowl season is well represented by calorie-bomb sponsors. If you could pick one other fast food outlet or chain restaurant to host a bowl, which one would it be and why?
I'm actually a little surprised there isn't a Chipotle Bowl by now. They're pretty much taken over America at this point and if the amount of tweets I see is any indication, it's the only place every college football player eats. That would be the hottest swag bag in the nation, mostly because it would be dripping with Chipotle hot salsa.