- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Alec Lemon is coming off a season-best 166-yard performance in last Friday's win over UConn, though the one designed play for him at quarterback ended with the senior taking a 2-yard loss.
Nonetheless, the senior now has 161 career receptions, and he broke the Syracuse career record for catches four weeks earlier against Minnesota. Lemon has 55 more than his position coach, Rob Moore, who only played at Syracuse for three years. Moore still has the lead in yards (2,122 to 1,954; third and sixth in program history, respectively) and touchdown catches (his 22 are a school record; Lemon's 12 are tied for ninth).
Here, Lemon talks about his Orange career and goals for this season.
After the Rutgers game you said you felt 'misery' looking over the film. How did you turn that frustration into a big performance the next week?
Alec Lemon: Well after the game, came back, watched the film, critiqued myself -- I felt that tick in my stomach from how I played. My goal was to go out there and show not just my team that I let them down because that wasn't me, but the whole world the real Syracuse offense and the real things that we could do.
UConn has a very good defense. You've had a 100-yard game against them two years in a row. How?
AL: I don't know. It's kind of funny. Everyone keeps telling me about that and I hadn't really realized it until they told me that I had career days against UConn. I guess it must be something about that white and blue I don't like. [Laughs.]
A lot of your yards come after the catch. What do you do during the week that helps you turn big plays into bigger ones?
AL: One of our focuses is when we get the ball in any drill or during team period for practice, we make sure that we finish with a 10-, 15-yard burst. But it really doesn't come from practice. It's got to be your mentality that every time you get the ball you want to score. And that's one of the things I have in my head: Every time I touch the ball I want to take it to the house and go as fast as I can and break some tackles and take it to the house.
The run game really established itself early Friday. How does that open things up for you guys as an offense?
AL: That helps us out a lot with the whole defense knowing that when the offense is going they can't just key in on [one part of] the offense, because the pass game will be open and when the passing game's going they can't just key in on the passing game because the run game will be open. We complement each other very well. We're a very balanced offense, and if one is doing so good the other will step up, and when that happens, like I said, they can't just key in on one area of the offense or one player because we have so many weapons on offense that we can use.
Speaking of the passing game: Is your QB career done after Friday?
AL: [Laughs.] I don't know. Maybe I was hoping I could get a chance to throw it again. I saw them coming over there so I had to tuck and get some yards.
It's been a couple weeks but you recently became the all-time pass-catcher at Syracuse. Was that a goal of yours or is it something you'll look back on after your career before it resonates?
AL: Yeah when I came to Syracuse that wasn't one of my goals. My goals were to get to bowl games, to win the Big East, win games when I'm here. I was fortunate enough to break a couple records on my way here but I really wasn't focused on that. But it's one of those things. Right now it hasn't hit me because we're still in the heat of the season. We're still trying to win the Big East. But definitely when I get older it'll be kind of nice to see my name back there on the Syracuse record books -- something I can tell my children about. But hopefully one of the receivers behind me breaks the record, because all records are made to be broken.
Nice to pass your position coach (Rob Moore) along the way for that record?
AL: Yeah, I beat him. I gave him a little crap about that. It was pretty funny.
How's he taken that?
AL: He took it good. I gave him a little crap about it, but he still claims that he's got more receiving yards and that his receiving average is higher than mine, so I've got to work on that. But it's something special to be a part of that list, to be mentioned with all those great receivers that came through here. Passing my coach Rob Moore is something special and I'm humbled to be a part of that, and I know he's happy that I did it -- a player that he coached, and he expected that out of me knowing that I'm capable of doing that.
You've got USF this week. A bit of a desperate team having lost five in a row. How do you ready for their best shot?
AL: Yeah, definitely. South Florida is a very talented team, very athletic and they're dangerous. People say that they're down right now, but we feel we've got to come with our A-game. People have been saying they've been losing a couple games but we can't look at that. We've got to come out and play because South Florida, like I said, they're a very good team and they can exploit our weaknesses and make big plays. They can hurt us in a couple ways. We just have to go out there and play the game we know how to play.
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4dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney