QB Andrew Robinson

2007 Statistics

Coach: Greg Robinson
7-28, 3 years
2007 Record: 2-10
at Iowa LOST 0-35
at Louisville WON 38-35
at Miami OH LOST 14-17
at Pittsburgh LOST 17-20
at Connecticut LOST 7-30

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

What happened to the great Syracuse teams that produced NFL legends like Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Joe Morris and Donovan McNabb? Steady decline has taken this program, a program that didn’t have a losing season from 1987-2001, to the worst three-year period it has ever experienced. Like other hirings, bringing in 14 years of NFL expertise in new head man Greg Robinson in 2005 was supposed to right a listing ship. But a result of such hirings is often a further backslide, especially when such advanced techniques find no home with marginal talent.

This is a school of 11,000+, and recruiting is a challenge up in the Finger Lakes. What Robinson is preaching seems to be missed by the Orange and its faithful, and if Robinson’s ways still mean double-digit losses (like they did in 2005 and ’07), the writing on the wall will be crystallized…another clean start will have to occur.

Coach Robinson’s hopes to stay here now rest in the team’s two fundamental changes. The first change is new OC hire Mitch Browning. Browning supplied the schemes the Minnesota Gophers ran to prominence in the first half of this decade. Browning’s run-heavy approach doesn’t really synchronize with the current QB’s skill set – junior Andrew Robinson (no relation to the head coach) is a drop-back type who should be the centerpiece for building an offensive strategy. Robinson just handing it off - and not using his arm to regularly stretch the field - will mean extra defenders in the box. This is the same basic premise that the OL has found itself in since Coach Robinson arrived, so being overrun up front is at least something they will be used to. The WRs become key, for, early on, if they can catch what their budding QB throws their collective way, it will be night and day for how defenses are forced to play the Orange.

The defensive mind brought in to co-coordinate is the other basic change, since Robinson’s efforts as both a head coach and DC have featured ever-worsening results. Derrick Jackson is savvy, but in his first coordinator’s job here, Jackson brings little to the schemes and will be hard pressed to provide the solid leadership role needed to motivate the D past where Robinson has already taken it. Jackson’s help will mean better results, just not good enough to mean that the defense can be leaned upon at critical times to win games. The talent is there on D to make a decent showing, so hopefully it can all come together and prove us wrong.

When looking up from the Big East basement, every foe seems challenging. The opener at Northwestern – another BCS-aligned team struggling for identity – will be a good barometer for what is still needed. The third game, at home with Penn State, might just be a good turnaround game, a possible win that would be the emotional catalyst for longterm growth. Even a close loss to PSU could buoy things this same way. After four in a row early on at the Carrier Dome, five of the last seven contests are road games. Challenges like this can either build character or pose an insurmountable climb. Hmmm…

Putting a happy face on something you know will probably have struggles is tough, so more rough times being predicted for 2008 can hopefully give these Orangemen something to pin up in the locker room and rally together to overcome. SU knows what it has to do to…but getting the team to pull out of this tailspin has to be the first task at hand. As one of twelve BCS schools that is a private learning institution, and is therefore not able to pull on state-sponsored resources, it may not be a quick jump back to prominence. One step at a time, guys…

Projected 2008 record: 3-9
LB Jake Flaherty
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 3 LB - 2.5
WR - 2 DB - 2
OL - 2.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Andrew Robinson, 154-292-7, 2192 yds., 13 TD

Rushing: Curtis Brinkley, 111 att., 371 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Paul Chiara, 12 rec., 93 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: Patrick Shadle, 10-14 FG, 23-24 PAT, 53 pts.

Punting: Rob Long, 75 punts, 41.9 avg.

Kicking: Patrick Shadle, 10-14 FG, 23-24 PAT, 53 pts.

Tackles: Jake Flaherty, 95 tot., 45 solo

Sacks: Jake Flaherty, Arthur Jones, Mike Stenclik - 1 each

Interceptions: A.J. Brown, 2 for 38 yds.

Kickoff returns: Max Suter, 51 ret., 25.5 avg., 1 TD

Punt returns: Bruce Williams, 5 ret., 2.6 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Taj Smith-WR, Rice Moss-WR, Jawad Nesheiwat-TE, Carroll Madison-OG, Larry Norton-OT, Mike Williams-WR (susp. academics)
DEFENSE: Brandon Gilbeaux-DE, Tony Jenkins-DT, Jameel McClain-DE, Nick Chestnut-CB, Dowayne Davis-CB, Joe Fields-FS

The ups and the downs of the Orange offense reflect decent talent, but talent that has had troubles getting productive effort(s) to work effectively together. This was the worst rushing team in ‘07 when considering average per carry (2.01) and rushing TDs (five), and SU was the second-worst for sacks allowed and points scored. These conclusive and statistical ends point to an especially suspect OL. This is why ex-Minnesota OC Mitch Browning was hired this past off-season. His Gopher OLs produced top 35 total offensive results for seven straight campaigns. Other “miracle workers” have had little impact on how this offense performs, so the proof will be in seeing SU averaging over 20 points per game (something that hasn’t happened since 2004’s 6-6 campaign, when they averaged almost 24).

Browning has a run-heavy approach, but here, that might be like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. The only ray of hope last year was the emergence of QB Andrew Robinson, a Baltimore product with quick feet and the proven ability to handle the pressures provided by an absentee running game. His 13:7 ratio of TDs-to-INTs are something around which to build, but how much more can he do? We foresee utilizing Robinson’s speed as a catalyst to distract and therefore jump-start the rushing attack…designed runs sure would beat what the 54 sacks equaled production-wise. Adrian Dantley’s son Cameron is the backup, and his similarities to Robinson mean little changes upon his insertion. This is important for the OL to keep its assignments clear regardless of who’s under center. That is the only way the modest talent up front will gain ground on approaching their potential(s).

Injuries to Curtis Brinkley (broken leg last October) and Delone Carter (hip dislocated last spring) have really hobbled the entire running game and its prospective impact. Both were held out this spring from any contact, so the fragile state of the ground dimension remains in flux until each man proves his renewed durability. True frosh Collier and Hope are the two top guys from their respective incoming classes, so running depth is there. Fullback Tony Fiammetta should see his ball carrying duties expand in the need for more ground options in this power running game.

Needless to say, the line has its work cut out. Browning will be hard stretched to bring the same level of line play that he created in Minnesota to this upstate New York haunt. What needs the most help is pass protection, and getting Jon Meldrum will go a long way toward shoring up the outside part of the pocket. Newbie Nick Speller is another bright spot…so is center Jim McKenzie’s ability to direct traffic. Otherwise, the news is same-old, same-old for the talent levels. Browning is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, for any OL improvements.

The WRs are another funky bunch, and like the line, we have our doubts as to whether this new-look corps is going to be as good as the departed starters (Williams is suspended for academic reasons and Smith graduated). Lobdell is a local product who has to step up instead of “dropping” down the depth chart (his butter-fingers have cost many ‘a drive). Davis isn’t a liability, but his ability to be the main guy seems scant with his svelte build. Also from the area, Marcus Sales is another four-star prospect who promises much. Both tight ends were not even playing on this side of the ball one year ago – both were linebackers who did what has been asked. Provo could expand the position’s possibilities. Robinson could be great if given the support needed, and he will take the entire offense along with him if given just a few more rays of hope.


OG Ryan Durand


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Andrew Robinson-Jr (6-3, 222) Cameron Dantley-Sr (6-1, 218)
FB Tony Fiammetta-Sr (6-1, 235) ..
TB Curtis Brinkley-Sr (5-9, 204) Delone Carter-So (5-10, 214)
Doug Hogue-So (6-2, 215)
WR Lavar Lobdell-Jr (6-3, 200) Chaz Cervino-Fr (5-10, 180)
WR Donte Davis-So (6-0, 169) Bruce Williams-Sr (6-0, 200)
Dan Sheeran-So (6-3, 217)
TE Mike Owen-Jr (6-4, 255) Ben Maljovec-Sr (6-3, 223)
OT Tucker Baumbach-So (6-5, 322) Nick Speller-Fr (6-5, 310)
OG Ryan Bartholomew-So (6-3, 290) Adam Rosner-So (6-6, 308)
C Jim McKenzie-So (6-4, 280) Dalton Phillips-Sr (6-3, 275)
OG Ryan Durand-Sr (6-5, 310) Ollie Haney-Fr (6-3, 275)
OT Corey Chavers-Sr (6-5, 295) Josh White-Fr (6-5, 290)
K Patrick Shadle-Jr (5-8, 201) John Barker-Sr (5-8, 155)



The downward statistical trends seen during coach Robinson’s tenure – as defensive coordinator as well as his time in his first head coaching job ever – spell concern. One good step is that he is allowing a co-coordinator to share the duties that seemed to spread ex-LB, -TE and –C Robinson too thin. Derrick Jackson is, himself, in his first coordinator’s chair, so between Jackson being green and the stale taste left by Robinson’s marginal stopping results, prospects of defensive improvement(s) are iffy.

The line allowed 30 TDs last year, one of nine FBS teams to be this porous. The bright spots are DT Nick Jones and end Brandon Gilbreaux. Jones typifies the DL’s group effort, for he had 17.5 TFLs in ’07 yet only one sack for that much effort. Next to Jones, Nick Santiago holds his own most of the time. Utica’s Vincenzo Giruzzi bumped to end, but his results suffered (though his tireless effort didn’t). Tribby and the inside depth are stronger than their pass-rushing compliments at end. All of this glass-half-full talk doesn’t displace the concerns of consistency within SU’s overall run stopping results.

The young linebacking unit is headed by senior Jake Flaherty; the breakout junior year he just had should be inspirational to the budding talent. Sophs Mele, Cantey and Smith all have the lateral ability to effectively go from either sideline-to-sideline or straight into the backfield on blitz calls. Going the way of athletic, quicker LBs will work if the speed can be coordinated. Forced to produce between the tackles, this front seven may still struggle.

The biggest challenge in the secondary is finding a compliment to Mike Holmes. Holmes’ freshman year was excellent, giving a foundation around which to build a better group. Scott as the bookend corner makes sense; still, he and Merkerson changed sides of the ball and are still learning the subtleties of collegiate-level cover technique(s). Though fast, this set of corners needs some girth to assure open-field tackling can save the day as needed. A.J. Brown becoming “the man” in back has some concerned. A decent coverage back, his expanded leadership role could spread him too thin as he tries to put out the plethora of fires sure to happen. Williams and Chiara will at least be seniors, but their lack of starting experience at free safety will surely show early. Stopping foes will happen, but doing it on almost every play will be the challenge.


NT Arthur Jones


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jared Kimmel-So (6-6, 252) Lamar Middleton-Fr (6-2, 230)
NT Arthur Jones-Jr (6-4, 289) Bud Tribbey-So (6-0, 280)
DT Nick Santiago-Sr (6-3, 302) Anthony Perkins-So (6-4, 268)
DE Vincenzo Giruzzi-Sr (6-3, 232) Mikhail Marinovich-Fr (6-4, 222)
SLB Parker Cantey-So (6-3, 215) Derrell Smith-So (6-1, 225)
MLB Jake Flaherty-Sr (6-1, 228) Mike Stenclik-Jr (6-0, 225)
WLB Mike Mele-So (6-0, 218) Chad Battles-Fr (6-3, 220)
CB Mike Holmes-So (6-1, 185) Ryan Howard-Sr (5-8, 185)
CB Nico Scott-So (5-10, 180) Da'Mon Merkerson-So (6-1, 185)
SS A.J. Brown-Sr (6-0, 201) Kevyn Scott-Fr (5-11, 185)
Randy McKinnon-So (5-10, 200)
FS Paul Chiara-Sr (5-11, 210) Max Suter-So (5-11, 190)
P Rob Long-So (6-4, 175) John Barker-Sr (5-8, 155)




Pat Shadle can convert form just about anywhere with his powerful leg. Rob Long is nasty to return men, using both distance and control to hit his mark(s). Too bad the 72nd-ranked net results don’t hold up next to Long’s efforts. No team had less punt returns than Syracuse (10). Backup safety Ryan Howard is a great option for those few PRs. Max Suter’s 4.41 speed translated into the league’s second-best results.