first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm Just outside the Syracuse locker room last Saturday against Washington, minutes after a disappointing loss, Delone Carter tried to put the outcome into perspective. Missed opportunities had deflated the optimism that accompanied SU to Seattle. Frustration began to set in. But despite the loss, and the pain that followed, the senior running back wasn’t seeing the setback as a repeat of years past. Not even close. ‘I feel no team is the same. I feel like we define ourselves,’ Carter said. ‘We’re going to continue to define ourselves. … Positively.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Days have passed, but the feelings remain. And now, Carter and his teammates enter this weekend looking to eliminate the feelings following that disappointing loss in Seattle. And with emotion from last Saturday’s drubbing still lingering, Syracuse (1-1) will attempt to restore its pride in its home opener against Maine (1-1) at 7:15 p.m. Saturday inside the Carrier Dome. ‘We just want to get back into this week and improve and take another step forward and get another win,’ Carter said Wednesday. ‘Just the next opponent, that’s all it is.’ Getting the bad taste out of its mouth is just one of the goals for the Orange heading into Saturday’s contest. SU hasn’t won a home opener since 2004 — the last time it made an appearance in a bowl game. Taking care of business this weekend would certainly be a big step toward that postseason berth head coach Doug Marrone and his players have been vocal about since preseason camp. Before last weekend, Syracuse looked like it might be a bowl-caliber team this season. The Orange dismantled Akron on the road, 29-3, and the defense looked as good as it has in years. But against Washington, SU struggled for the final three quarters. The defense allowed five touchdowns against the Huskies after allowing zero against Akron. The Orange went from having a 10-point lead to losing by three touchdowns. Erasing the pain from last week’s poor performance will be on the minds of the coaches and players. ‘It hurt,’ Marrone said at his weekly press conference Monday. ‘Any time you lose a game, it hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, then you don’t have the right culture. … It is like anything else in life, how you deal with adversity, how you deal with failure and how you come back from that.’ Syracuse and Maine faced each other for the first time in 2009, with SU winning decisively, 41-24, at the Dome. Carter led the Orange offense with 72 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, while Derrell Smith led the defense with 11 tackles. Against the Black Bears Saturday, both should play a pivotal role. In spite of two rather unimpressive performances to start the season, the Maine defense is only allowing 3.1 yards per carry against the run. Carter and backfield mate Antwon Bailey will have to increase their production for the Orange to win that battle. Offensively, Maine averaged 186.5 yards rushing in those first two games behind the running of Jared Turcotte and Pushaun Brown. Smith and the Syracuse defense — which has allowed 157 yards per game against the run — will have their work cut out for them. ‘We know we’ll get their best when they come in here,’ Marrone said. ‘I have a lot of respect for (Maine head coach Jack) Cosgrove and that football team. … They’re always big, they’re always tough, they’re always physical and then, after last year, we have to expect the unexpected anywhere on the field.’ Despite Maine’s strong points, the Black Bears are still an FCS school. The Syracuse players are well aware of that fact. Yet after a painful loss at Washington, SU is heading into this weekend not taking anybody lightly. And while the players insist Maine is ‘just the next opponent,’ it’s quite possible SU is planning to take out its frustration on what it knows is an inferior opponent. That will be a key factor Saturday. ‘We’re trying to change history and change the culture here,’ SU receiver Van Chew said. ‘So getting a big win will be good.’ All week long, players and coaches were chomping at the bit to get back on the field. To prove last week’s loss was a fluke. To quickly regain that optimistic feeling that had suddenly evaporated. Maine was shut out, 3-0, by Albany to start this season. Not exactly the evidence to suggest it should pose a threat to a Syracuse squad salivating at a chance for redemption. And after starting the season with two games on the road, SU returns home against the same Maine team it throttled in the second half a year ago. Perhaps it’s the perfect situation to begin erasing any doubts about its bowl legitimacy this season. Said Marrone: ‘We expect them to come back, give us their best effort, and get ready to win a game and go above .500.’ aljohn@syr.educenter_img Commentslast_img read more