first_imgAfter thinking about it for four awkward, silent seconds, Nick Provo provided a carbon copy of his first response. Why did he feel Syracuse committed 10 first half penalties? How did, and how will SU get that penalty problem out of its ‘system?’ ‘You just got to make plays,’ Provo said. ‘Penalties happen. You just have to get them out of your system.’ They just happen. Saturday, they just happened. At an alarming rate in the first half for the Orange. The fourteen penalties in total, the most for a Big East team this year, coming against an FCS team in Maine was because of, well, nothing in particular. Penalties happen. There it was: the repetition when it came to his answer to SU’s penalty problem for Provo. Repetition with his words coming after a 38-14 win where the Orange repeated its poor penalty performance for the second straight year against the Black Bears, yielding only a 17-14 SU lead at halftime. In 2009, SU committed its most penalties on the year with 10 against Maine. SU head coach Doug Marrone attributed the performance to the obvious, a failure to focus.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘Penalties? What do I assess them to?’ Marrone said. ‘A lack of focus.’ Added Marrone: ‘The only thing that I would say bothered me the most was the penalties.’ It was a repeat performance of flailing yellow flags and piercing whistles in the Carrier Dome, most of it sprinkled throughout the first 30 minutes. After one quarter, the offense had run just two more plays than offensive and defensive penalties committed (six to four). At the half, the Orange had amassed those 10 penalties, just five shy of the total penalties for the team heading into the game. Ten penalties, just shy of one-fifth of the total the Orange committed all of last year. Ten penalties in 58 total first half plays. A 17 percent chance of committing a penalty per snap. The percentage was not one Marrone was OK with. Heading into the game, Marrone had a very similar percentage on his mind as well. A percentage just one number off. On SU’s statistical chart, it says that a team has a 16 percent chance in winning when committing two turnovers a game, the number SU averaged in its first two games. Poor percentages are something no coach, including Marrone, wants to wrestle with. Marrone said he also isn’t one who wants to wrestle with a ‘Here we go again’ mindset. When down in the first half, Marrone said the thought of déjà vu never crept into his mind. He doesn’t act that way. He made that clear, once again, in his postgame press conference. And at halftime, he made it clear to his team that the game was in their control. No overbearing mention of the penalties. No halftime meltdown or show in order to get his players to stay disciplined. Penalties happen. ‘I told them we were winning the football game, and that we had momentum on our side,’ Marrone said. ‘We need to take this first drive and go down the field and score. And we need to play and we don’t need to worry about, ‘What happens if they do this, what happens if they do that?’ Let’s just go out and play.’ Following the game, Marrone rattled off a slew of things Maine did to perhaps throw SU off and commit the penalties. There was Maine’s inverted weak safety negating SU’s weak-side running game. There was the bringing down of the Black Bears’ strong safety. There was the ‘two-trap.’ There was the three-deep coverage. But every player asked from SU said there wasn’t déjà vu. Repeated answers of penalties ‘being a part of the game’ were spoken by Provo, Doug Hogue and Van Chew, amongst others. But with that, no one fully went into what it is about Maine that catches SU off guard. After all, Maine’s opponents only attained nine total penalties against the Black Bears prior to Saturday. Is it the much talked about trickery? Is it the fact that Maine is an FCS opponent? Chew said it came down to nervousness. But, what is there to be nervous about against Maine? Why Maine? Why the repeat performance? For SU’s leading tackler on the day in Derrell Smith, there really isn’t anything to look into with the penalty showing. It’s not déjà vu. It’s nothing about Maine. Unlike Provo, Smith didn’t need an awkward pause to supply his first answer. It was almost as if he had the succinct response dialed up before the question was finished. Penalties happen. And it’s mere coincidence. Said Smith: ‘What a coinky dink.’ aolivero@syr.edu            Published on September 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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