Stands for Kickoff Classic
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Rob Carpenter has been thrust into the spotlight a little sooner than expected at Syracuse.
After an outstanding sophomore season when he combined with Rob Moore to become the most prolific pass-catchers in Syracuse football history, Carpenter now finds himself the team’s top target now that Moore has opted to skip his senior year for the NFL.
Carpenter will look to make the most of his new-found opportunity tonight when Syracuse meets ninth-ranked Southern Cal in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium.
″Rob (Moore) was a great player and in a way his leaving puts a little more pressure on me,″ said Carpenter, who caught 41 passes for 761 yards (18.6 yards per) and five touchdowns. ″But we have a lot of good athletes and this will give all of us an opportunity to show what we can do.″
One of the young Syracuse wide receivers who could emerge is Qadry Ismail, the younger brother of Ragib Ismail of Notre Dame.
″What I tell people when I am asked about the loss of Moore is what did we do without Mike Siani, or Scott Schwedes or Tommy Kane?″ Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson said.
″The answer is Rob Carpenter,″ he added. ″He’s the next one, and then behind him we got Qadry Ismail.″
The question is can Syracuse get the ball to Carpenter this year without Moore and a proven quarterback? Last year’s starter, Bill Scharr, quit the team during spring practice and he is being replaced by redshirt freshman Marvin Graves, who beat out junior Mark McDonald.
″It’s going to be a challenge,″ said Carpenter,″ who transferred to Syracuse from Notre Dame. Carpenter likes Graves. He compares him to Major Harris, the former West Virginia quarterback, and Don McPherson, who led Syracuse to the Sugar Bowl in 1988.
″I think this takes a bit of pressure off the quarterbacks,″ Carpenter said of the announcement on Thursday that Graves would start. ″I don’t think there was too much pressure on the offense. We felt whoever was in the game could execute our offense.″
Graves is bound to benefit from having an experienced offensive line, which McPherson called as good as any in the country. It is anchored by center John Flannery.
If the line can protect Graves, Carpenter could be in the receiving when when MacPherson elected to use the option attack to set up the pass.
″It can be tricky,″ Southern Cal safety Marcus Hopkins said. ″We’ve practiced against it a lot.
″They really don’t pass that much. They just try to lull you to sleep with option left and option right and then pass. They have some good talent so we have to keep our heads up.″
The Southern Cal is a little shorthanded in the secondary. Cornerback DeChon Burns sustained a contused spinal cord in practice on Aug. 16. Team doctors have advised the sophomore not to play football again.
Southern Cal coach Larry Smith has not determined who will start at his run support corner.
The Trojans defense lost nine of 11 starters from a year ago when they led the nation in rushing defense (61.5 yards), were second in total defense (238.8 yards) and third in scoring defense (11.1 points per game).
Southern Cal was 9-2-1 last season, capping it with a 17-10 Rose Bowl victory over Michigan.
Syracuse was 8-4 and ended the season with a 19-18 Peach Bowl victory over Georgia.
The first full weekend of college football also includes Baylor at No. 7 Nebraska; Pacific playing No. 8 Tennessee; 10th-ranked Clemson against Long Beach State; No. 13 Texas A&M at Hawaii; No. 15 Virginia against Kansas; No. 16 Brigham Young meeting Texas-El Paso; No. 18 Pittsburgh vs. Ohio University; and Kent State at No. 25 West Virginia.
Tennessee already has played a game, tying Colorado 31-31 in the Pigskin Classic last Sunday. The Volunteers overcame a 14-point deficit.
Clemson and Long Beach State both have new coaches. Ken Hatfield left Arkansas to take over the Tigers, while George Allen - yes, that George Allen - went to the 49ers. Allen is 74.
″I haven’t had quite as much fun as I’d hoped I’d have,″ Allen said. ″Everybody said it’s an impossible job, including Bo Schembechler, and that’s why I took it.
″Hopefully, we won’t get all banged up. We have only three starters on defense returning, and Clemson has 10 of 11.″
At Pittsburgh, Paul Hackett, who led the Panthers to a Sun Bowl victory as interim coach last winter, has the job for real. Quarterback Alex Van Pelt said the Panthers have practiced as if they’re preparing for a bowl.
″We’re looking forward to going back to school, because that means the end of 13-hour days (of football),″ Van Pelt said.