Notebook: Former Blue Devil guard now guiding the Orange

Matt Forman

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – As people dressed in orange and blue filed into the Carrier Dome, many Syracuse fans donned the traditional number 44 jersey of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. But those who didn’t were almost uniformly wearing an orange t-shirt with a blue number two on the front. On the back it read “The Devil Wears Orange,” a reference to former Duke basketball player and current Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus. After starring in Mike Krzyzewski’s backcourt for four years in Durham, N.C., Paulus opted to play a fifth year of collegiate athletics, this time as a graduate student-football player. Going against Northwestern in his third game under center, Paulus was just what the shirt indicated for the Wildcats’ defense: a nemesis to control, a demon to stop.

“He did well,” senior safety Brad Phillips said. “He made some plays, got outside of our contain. He scrambled for a touchdown. He capitalized on our mistakes. He moved around a lot.”

Paulus played quarterback like a point guard, having the ball in his hands every play, scanning the defense and looking for an open cutter, or in this case a receiver. He completed 24-of-35 passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns. Paulus also rushed seven times for 10 yards and a touchdown, a 10-yard scramble on second-and-goal that gave the Orange a 10-0 lead.

Paulus, a Syracuse native who went to high school two miles from the university, earned his first career win under center.

“We won, so that’s how I judge myself and I know how that’s how quarterbacks are judged,” he said. “It was fun. I’m having a blast.”

Fighting the injury bug

Last year, the Cats learned more about injuries than they ever could have imagined. On Saturday, NU got another healthy helping of hurt handed its way.

In 2008, six players – Corey Wootton, Corbin Bryant, Drake Dunsmore, Tyrell Sutton, Omar Conteh and Vince Browne – suffered injuries of the season-ending variety. Against Syracuse, five players – starters Sherrick McManis, Nate Williams and Sidney Stewart and backups Jeravin Matthews and Justan Vaughn – did not play due to injury. And that doesn’t account for an injury to running back Alex Daniel, who’s out for the season with an ankle injury.

Though the outcome of the game could have been different if NU was completely healthy, coach Pat Fitzgerald refused to make excuses for his team.

“When you put on the purple and white and take the field for the Wildcats, it’s time for you to step up and do your job,” he said. “You’ve got to pick up the flag and keep fighting.”

Running for daylight

A story in The Daily Orange’s football preview section titled “In the Huddle” broke down NU’s offense as follows: “Northwestern is a run-first, think-second team this year. The Wildcats’ offense will go as far as Stephen Simmons takes it.”

Though that analysis might have held true through NU’s first two games, it wasn’t the case this week. After running the ball 70 percent of the time against Eastern Michigan and Towson, the Cats had a run-pass ratio of 28-to-42 against Syracuse. Thanks to an early deficit and Simmons’ injury, NU converted those carries into 52 yards on the ground. Aside from a 25-yard scamper by freshman Arby Fields, who registered just two carries, the team’s second-longest carry went for nine yards. Junior Jacob Schmidt led NU in rushing with 30 yards on 10 carries.

Syracuse also held senior quarterback Mike Kafka in check. Other than his touchdown run, Kafka struggled to break loose. He rushed 13 times for negative yardage.

Quick hits

Sophomore wide receiver Demetrius Fields and sophomore superback Drake Dunsmore caught their first career touchdown passes, and senior Zeke Markshausen set career highs in receptions and yards. … A week after registering his first career interception, sophomore linebacker Ben Johnson collected his first collegiate fumble in the third quarter. … NU is 0-3 all-time at the Carrier Dome.

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