Floyd Little bleeds orange. The Hall of Famer has been picking Syracuse to win just about every game they’ve played since 1960, but he has a stern message for the current group.
“We are a mediocre team because of the mistakes, and we will continue to be a mediocre team until we fix it. This is not what the team is capable of doing.”
It's hardly an outrageous stance as the team sits at 3-4, but considering the source, the “M-word” is jolting. The otherwise perpetual optimist, Little is particularly frustrated in the same area as players, coaches, and fans: the dreadful red zone.
“You should have a series of ten plays that are like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes,” he said on Upon Further Review. “It’s automatic and everyone is comfortable. Stop changing up the signals. Stop tying to be tricky and going offsides. Snap the ball on the first sound.”
But what about the 30-7 drubbing of Wake Forest? The man has seen almost every Syracuse, Denver Broncos, and Monday Night Football game in the last fifty years, which should provide the proper perspective for how much the Orange impressed him Saturday.
“Wake Forest is probably one of the worst offensive teams I’ve ever seen. We’re doing some nice things, but we have to be better in the red zone. You see guys that are not executing the way they should, making mistakes when they shouldn’t be, dropping the ball in the endzone…” Floyd tapered off, frustrated just talking about it.
“You can’t do that. This team has not played up to its capability. We are not a good team until we stop making mistakes.”
Freshman quarterback AJ is responsible for only a few of the mistakes, and he’s filled in more than adequately for Terrel Hunt, tossing two touchdowns against Florida State and running in Syracuse’s only offensive score of the day against Wake. Like many Orange faithful, Little has taken solace there.
“We are starting to get the confidence back. I like (Long). I think he gives us the best chance to win. He can throw moving to his left and his right. He and Steve Ishmael have hooked up to become a nice tandem.”
He’s around the players every day. Are they embarrassed with the 49-14 outcome against Clemson last year?
“You ain’t kidding,” Floyd said. “I’m still hurting from that Clemson loss. We were a better team than we showed, but they beat us up pretty good.”
They’ll get another chance on Saturday night.
Sorry if you don’t like that question. You’ll be hearing it for the next year.
Yes, I know Long has a few more weeks to audition, and the coaches might not have to decide until next year, but you know they’re thinking about it. Even though there’s plenty of time, ask yourself this: What is AJ going to prove over the next month that he hasn’t proven already?
Is he going to beat Clemson? Will he start throwing for 300 yards?
Doubt it, and doubt it. So, is he going to beat NC State and BC? Lead them to the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Bowl? Hunt’s been there, done that.
Point is, I think we know enough now. Who cares if he makes mistakes? Who cares if he throws interceptions? Who cares what his numbers look like for the next month?
Here are a few things we already know he can do:
- Throw on the run (moving left and right)
- Pass to Ishmael
- Nickname himself
No one else on the roster does all of those things. No disrespect to Hunt. He's a terrific runner, and he's good enough to get you to a bowl game.
This might be easily settled if Syracuse loses to Clemson, NC State, and Duke. They’ll be 3-7 and eliminated from Oscar Meyer Weiner Bowl contention. They can treat the last two games as an audition for next year.
If they are 4-6 or better heading into the Pitt game, I’m rolling with AJ Freestyle.