This Orange Kool-Aid I Will Drink

September 05, 2009 | Chad Lamasa

On a beautiful pump fake, Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus, hit a wide open Mike Williams for a 29 yard touchdown, the first he’s thrown since he played high school football in New Jersey.

As you all know Paulus was a point guard for Duke over the last four seasons. After J.J. Redick, he is probably the most hated Blue Devil of the last 10 or so seasons.

His freshman year he had a great season but then struggled for the remainder of his career, eventually going from three year starter to a bench player his senior year.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his grit, passion and team first attitude. He never complained about being benched.

After his senior year he discovered that  he had a year of eligibility for another sport since he only played basketball for Duke. This sparked interest from almost two dozen collegiate teams and even the Green Bay Packers in the NFL.

Paulus traded in the blue and black of the Blue Devils, for the blue and orange of  his hometown Syracuse Orange.

He was given the starting job after just a week of practice, and named a Captain by his team mates.

In the first half he managed the game well. He didn’t set the world on fire but he was being a point guard and not making mistakes. Throwing short passes and scrambling effectively.

After trailing 14-3 early in the game, Paulus led the Orange to 17 unanswered points to end the first half.

His stats for the half – 12/17 for 128 yards, one touchdown and most importantly no picks. Not bad for a guy that hasn’t played football in five years.

In the third quarter Paulus got lucky as a couple of his passes should have been intercepted but were dropped by the defenders.

The fourth quarter wasn’t very productive. Minnesota tied the game 20-20 with :57 seconds left. The Orange offensive line looked a bit confused and the half ended with Paulus being sacked.

Unfortunately, he picked the worst possible time to throw his first pick. On a third and four play from the five in OT, he avoided a sack and threw into a crowded end zone which led to the game winning field goal for Minnesota.

To me, this was his inexperience showing.  Later in the season he would have either taken the sack or thrown into the stands to give the kicking unit a chance to win the game.

Other than the interception I thought he looked good overall. He seemed comfortable in the pocket and was much more mobile than I thought he would have been.

Finishing 19/31 for 167 yards one touchdown and one interception, Paulus’ numbers could have been a bit better.

However there were several dropped  passes that should have been easy catches. Syracuse also ran several plays in their Stallion package, basically their version of the wildcat, which kept Paulus on the sidelines.

The leadership qualities that he exhibited at Duke are still present. When guys would get called for bad penalties he would point at his helmet telling the player to use his head.

On a play late in the fourth quarter, Minnesota was showing blitz, Paulus smartly called a timeout and got a first down on the ensuing play.

He said he picked Syracuse, a team that has won 10 total games the last four seasons, because he wanted to help turn the team around. It won’t be easy as their next game is against Penn State.

On the educational side, he chose Syracuse for their broadcasting program.

He has said after this season he wants to pursue a career in broadcasting, coaching or possibly take a look at the NFL.

I’ve never been much of a college football fan, but I will follow Syracuse this season in order to see how this story unfolds.