Unbeaten Syracuse a confident bunch
Wed, 08 Sep 2010 21:51:04 GMT — Derrell Smith had a gleam in his eyes and a smile on his face when asked about playing a second straight road game, this time against Washington and standout quarterback Jake Locker. "Actually, I love road games, the negative energy in the air," said Smith, middle linebacker for the Syracuse Orange. "I'm sure it's going to be a tough environment to play in. I'm on defense, so it probably won't be that tough because I don't think they're going to cheer when their offense isn't on the field that much." Amazing what being unbeaten for the first time in seven years can do for the psyche of a team that has struggled for so long. Syracuse, down and out for most of this decade, is coming off a 29-3 victory at Akron, its first win in a season-opener since a triple-overtime victory at North Carolina in 2003. "I've never been a part of anything like this since I've been here," senior strong safety Max Suter said. "We're just together this year. Everyone on the team is together. Everyone wants the same goal, and that's to win. There's noone here that doesn't care if they win or lose." "It's always a great feeling to transfer what you do on the practice field to a live situation," Orange cornerback Da'Mon Merkerson said, referring to the season-opener. "It felt like practice to me. It's hard for me to separate how practice feels to how the game feels. I felt as confident as I did going into that game as I do going into this (one)." Syracuse was scheduled to leave town on Thursday for Saturday night's game against the Huskies (0-1), who are coming off a 23-17 loss at BYU. Orange head coach Doug Marrone revealed some of his newfound research early this week, pointing out that since 1964 Syracuse is 1-12-1 in games in Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and points farther west. The only victory came against UCLA, 32-14 in 1967. The Orange know all about Locker because they saw him up close and personal and couldn't catch him in his college debut. As a redshirt freshman in 2007, Locker ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns and completed 14 of 19 passes for 142 yards and no turnovers. He departed after the third quarter of a 42-12 rout of Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. "I was a nervous wreck that game because it was the home-opener," Orange senior nose tackle Bud Tribbey said on the eve of his first trip to the West Coast. "But it was a great experience playing against them, and now it's going to be an even greater experience going against Locker, a Heisman hopeful," Tribbey added. "We're in it for some payback for how they came in the dome and beat us," Tribbey said. "I'm really looking forward to it, especially just thinking about how we can be 2-0 going into our home-opener." Notes: Marrone said freshman defensive back Keon Lyn, who had to sit while the NCAA checked his high school transcript, was back and practice and looking very good and that DB Kevyn Scott appears ready to contribute after recovering from a hamstring injury ... Freshman Prince-Tyson Gulley has been fielding a lot of punts in practice in the wake of a shaky performance by Mike Holmes against Akron.