NICELY DONE: SU undefeated for 1st time in seven years, clobbers Zips in season-opener

first_imgAKRON, Ohio — Duffle bag hanging off his left shoulder, Delone Carter wasn’t holding back that grin as he strolled out of the Syracuse locker room Saturday evening. The feeling was just too good. Too good to show anything but raw emotion after unveiling what he and his teammates had been waiting weeks, even months, to show the rest of the country. ‘This is a different team,’ Carter said. Eager to prove that, Carter and his Syracuse teammates steamrolled Akron, 29-3, in front of a crowd of 15,969 at InfoCision Stadium Saturday. In his first career start, quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 229 yards and two touchdown passes and rushed for 58 more yards. The Orange defense also put on a dominating performance, allowing just 166 yards of total offense and its lowest point total in five seasons. Syracuse (1-0) is now undefeated for the first time since 2003. ‘I’m excited for them,’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said. ‘We’ve got to start learning to win. … And winning helps that.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text On the opening possession of the game, Nassib drove the Orange on a 69-yard, 11-play drive to the end zone. From the Akron 23-yard line, Nassib fired a dart to over the middle to senior receiver Aaron Weaver, who scurried 15 yards after the catch for the score. And Syracuse never looked back. Carter, a senior running back and Akron native, led the Orange on the ground with 91 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. He was the workhorse that allowed SU to keep the defense honest when Nassib threw strikes downfield. ‘It was just a great opportunity for us to go there and show just how complete of a team we are,’ Carter said. ‘We were just working on all cylinders. … That’s the way we wanted to open it up, to set the stage, and to continue to work hard and do it every game.’ Defensively, the Orange was as good as it has been in years. Though Scott Shafer’s defense returned nine starters from a squad that was among the best against the run a year ago, the defense against the pass was equally impressive Saturday. Shafer’s group shut down Akron quarterback Patrick Nicely, who finished the game just 12-for-35 for 111 yards on the night. ‘It feels really good,’ SU defensive end Chandler Jones said. ‘Coach Shafer did a good job of preparing us. … We just did what we do best, and that’s play defense, play our defense.’ SU made its fair share of miscues — penalties and turnovers among them — but in the end, its superior talent won out in what was arguably the Orange’s most dominating performance in years. Syracuse hasn’t had a winning season in nine years. But in Marrone’s second season, players have bought into the ‘this is the year’ mentality. Finally, after years of turmoil, this season starts with a jolt of optimism. A taste of the good life. The pains of past seasons are history — for now. ‘We wanted to show people out there what we can do,’ safety Shamarko Thomas said. ‘We’re a hungry team trying to prove to ourselves. Last year is history.’ The win gave SU its first season-opening victory since 2003, when the Orange beat North Carolina 49-47 on the road in triple overtime. The night before the game, Syracuse players took in the words of former SU legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little, who was in Akron visiting. He reminded the players of the once-storied past of the Orange and prompted them to start in earnest to bring it back. Following 10 minutes with reporters, Marrone was greeted in the tunnel outside the locker room by a smiling Athletic Director Daryl Gross, who gave his coach a hug and told him, ‘Good job, man.’ But despite the emotion adjacent to the Syracuse locker room Saturday, SU isn’t seeing this as the end of the road. With a trip to Seattle to face Washington looming, the players hope to only use their win against Akron as a steppingstone to bigger and better things. To show that this is, in fact, a different team. ‘It gives us a lot of confidence,’ Thomas said. ‘But every week we have to go back to work, study, play hard and do it again. People are sleeping on us, so we feel as though we have to prove ourselves every week.’ aljohn@syr.edu Published on September 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img

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