NCF Nation: Keon Lyn

Injury impact: ACC

October, 24, 2013
It’s that time of year, when injuries can be devastating to a team and even change the outcome of a game. Here’s a look at which three teams in the ACC have been most affected by injuries this season:

1. NC STATE: The Pack lost starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell in the season opener when he broke his left foot. He is expected to return for Saturday’s game at Florida State, but the Pack has also been missing two key linemen in OT Rob Crisp, and DE Darryl Cato-Bishop. Safety Jarvis Byrd also suffered his third torn ACL of his career.

2. MARYLAND: The Terps took their biggest hit at FSU when quarterback C.J. Brown was sidelined with a concussion and missed the following game at Virginia, but they’ve also since lost their top two receivers in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, and linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and defensive back Dexter McDougle are also out for the season.

3. SYRACUSE: The Orange lost starting linebacker Dyshawn Davis to an ankle injury for the second half of the NC State game and last week’s game against Georgia Tech, defensive tackle John Raymon suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 56-0 loss to Georgia Tech, tailback George Morris II also missed last week with an injury, and three-year starting CB Keon Lyn is out for the season with a lower body injury. The Orange also lost kicker Ross Krautman in late September to a season-ending hip injury. The bye week comes at a good time for Cuse.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl keys

December, 29, 2012
Here are three keys for Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl:

1. Establish the run. What better way for Syracuse to keep West Virginia off the field than with its running game? It has been outstanding in the latter half of the season. Syracuse averaged 127.5 yards on the ground in the first six games of the year. In the last six games? The Orange averaged 216.2 yards rushing. It is no coincidence that Syracuse went 5-1 in its final six games, then. The bulk of the carries should go to Jerome Smith, who hit 1,000 yards this season, and Prince-Tyson Gulley as Adonis Ameen-Moore is serving a suspension for this game.

2. Get after Geno Smith. Syracuse has done a terrific job harassing Smith in the past two games the teams played, both Orange victories. They were so successful, in fact, that a Big 12 reporter got on the Big East coaches' call earlier this year and asked Syracuse coach Doug Marrone how they were able to slow down Smith so effectively. Marrone politely declined to answer at the time. But there is no doubt the game plan is going to remain the same going into this game. Containing Smith takes away a large part of what the Mountaineers do on offense.

3. Lock down Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Easier said than done, right? Austin and Bailey were outstanding once again this season -- Austin finished No. 2 in the nation in all-purpose yards with 2,760, and Bailey led the nation with 23 receiving touchdowns and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Syracuse has had its share of problems on special teams, particularly on covering punts, so this is going to have to be a major point of emphasis to make sure Austin doesn't burn the Orange there. Syracuse cornerbacks Keon Lyn and Ri'Shard Anderson are going to have their hands full, but you can bet Syracuse also will rely on the sure-handed tackling of Shamarko Thomas to help wrap these guys up so they can contain yards after the catch.

Did Keon Lyn get too greedy, or did the officials overreact to Trevor Siemian's timely tumble?

Regardless, Syracuse's 13th and final penalty of the game was ultimately the one that did the Orange in during Saturday's opener at the Carrier Dome, where their 22-point comeback went for naught in a 42-41 loss to Northwestern.

Lyn was charged with a late hit on Siemian, the Wildcats' quarterback, with less than a minute left on a third-and-15 play deep in Syracuse territory. With new life, Siemian hit Demetrius Fields for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining, and Jeff Budzien's extra point accounted for the final and decisive points.

The miscues took away from a monster day by Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib, who set school records with 44 completions (on 64 attempts) and 472 yards passing. He tossed four touchdown passes and one interception, leading Syracuse back from a 35-13 deficit to take a 41-35 lead with 2:40 remaining.

The Wildcats had rattled off 28 unanswered points of their own before the Orange's comeback, but their secondary gave up big play after big play.

Syracuse had 596 yards of total offense to Northwestern's 337, but the Orange turned the ball over three times.

Venric Mark returned a punt 82 yards for a Northwestern touchdown in the first quarter, and Chi Chi Ariguzo recovered a Jerome Smith third-quarter fumble and brought it back 33 yards.

Nassib, whose four touchdown tosses all came in the second half, played exactly how you would expect from a senior. But miscues elsewhere proved too much to overcome for Syracuse, which won't have a chance next week against USC unless it shores up some of those loose ends.

Big East recruiting needs

January, 23, 2012
National signing day is inching ever closer, so it is time to take a look at the biggest recruiting needs for every team in the Big East.


Defensive line. Cincinnati loses a host of seniors from this position, including Co-Defensive Player of the Year Derek Wolfe, John Hughes, Monte Taylor, and Rob Trigg. Factor in the key contributors for 2012 will be seniors in Dan Giordano, Brandon Mills and Walter Stewart and it is time to reload at this position.

Receiver. There is some promising young talent on the roster, but several guys are going to be leaving in the next few years. The Bearcats really need a guy who can stretch the field and make some big plays to join Anthony McClung and Alex Chisum.

Secondary. The Bearcats are going to take a hit at this position after 2012, losing a ton of seniors-to-be, including Cam Cheatham, Drew Frey, Dominique Battle and Reuben Johnson. Senior safety Wesley Richardson is already gone. The lone four-star commitment the Bearcats have is from a safety, Marcus Foster.


Quarterback. This need has been addressed in this recruiting cycle, with junior college transfer Chandler Whitmer and Casey Cochran already enrolled in school.

Tight end. With the impending departure of Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt, the Huskies could use another young player to be groomed to take over. Tight end is a critical part of the UConn offense.

Offensive line. UConn is losing its two best linemen in Moe Petrus and Mike Ryan. Of the 16 linemen currently listed on the roster, seven are juniors or seniors. Linemen generally take a redshirt season, so it never hurts to sign more to be able to restock.


Linebacker. The Cardinals are losing Dexter Heyman and have a lot of juniors and seniors on their roster at this position. It is no surprise, then, that three of the top players coming in are linebackers -- Keith Brown and James Burgess are already enrolled; four-star recruit Nick Dawson has given a commitment.

Offensive line. Louisville has young players here, but not much depth, as evidenced this season when several true freshmen were forced to play much earlier than anticipated. It never hurts to build depth here, and the Cardinals have gotten a huge commit from four-star guard Abraham Garcia out of Miami.

Running back. This was an area the Cardinals struggled in this season, having to move quarterback Dominique Brown to the position. Victor Anderson is gone, and this team could really used another back to carry the load.


Quarterback. This one is pretty self explanatory if you watched Tino Sunseri play. Mark Myers and Trey Anderson are also on the roster, but the Panthers are in definite need here -- which is why so many fans are looking forward to commit Chad Voytik coming to town.

Linebacker. This has been an area of inconsistency for the Panthers, who lose their best player in Max Gruder. There are some young players with talent in Todd Thomas and Ejuan Price, but this position could definitely use an upgrade.

Receiver. The play of the offense was disappointing this season, and that includes the receivers. Pitt could use some players to stretch the field. Ronald Jones was a start this season. But when you consider that Cameron Saddler, Mike Shanahan and Devin Street will all be upperclassmen in 2012, this is a definite area of need.


Receiver. Mohamed Sanu is gone, and Mark Harrison is a senior to be. There is plenty of young talent, but there is a reason Rutgers has commitments from four athletes. This gives the Scarlet Knights the flexibility to try them at receiver or running back, another area of need.

Running back. Once Savon Huggins got hurt this year, Rutgers had Jawan Jamison and Jeremy Deering at running back and that was about it. Depth has to be developed here.

Offensive line. Strides have absolutely been made at this position, but coach Greg Schiano likes to reiterate that the Scarlet Knights aren't going to pull themselves out of the hole they were in overnight. They need another solid draft class at this position to keep building.


Secondary. Injuries and inconsistent play this season showed the Bulls really lacked some depth and need some immediate help in this area, which is why they signed junior college cornerbacks Fidel Montgomery and Josh Brown. One of their top four-star commitments is cornerback Chris Bivins.

Quarterback. Beyond B.J. Daniels, a senior in 2012, the Bulls have Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd as the two heirs to take over. Eveld has been less than impressive, and we don't know much about Floyd. The Bulls would be served to get another quarterback in as they prepare for the future.

Running back. Darrell Scott is gone, and the Bulls are really in need of a game breaker at this position. Demetris Murray is going to be a senior, and nobody else really has stepped up at the position. Depth has to be built here, because USF goes into spring practice with four running backs on the roster.


Defensive line. The Orange are losing Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich and could really used some difference-makers up front who can help get after the quarterback. Depth is an issue here. One of their big commitments so far has been defensive end Josh Manley out of Georgia.

Secondary. This was one of the weakest parts of the team and now the Orange lose Phillip Thomas and Kevyn Scott, and there was a lack of depth when injuries hit this position in 2011. Brooklyn prep safety Wayne Morgan would be a huge get to add to this unit.

Receiver. Alec Lemon is a senior, Van Chew is gone and who knows what happens with Marcus Sales. The bottom line is the Orange are in major need of a game-changer to turn 15-yard passes into 40-yard receptions.

West Virginia

Quarterback. Geno Smith is a rising senior and after him it is crickets in the form of one player behind him in Paul Millard. So consider this need majorly filled with Ford Childress, ranked No. 139 on the ESPNU 150.

Offensive line. The most inconsistent part of the team in 2011, West Virginia has a major need here. The Mountaineers struggled so badly here they started converted defensive lineman Curtis Feigt late in the season. Don Barclay is gone, and Joe Madsen, Jeff Braun and Josh Jenkins are all upperclassmen.

Defensive line. Julian Miller, Josh Taylor and Bruce Irvin are gone, and there are depth concerns here. West Virginia has four commitments from defensive linemen already.
Syracuse has been hit with more bad news on the injury front, announcing Friday that starting middle linebacker Marquis Spruill would miss spring practice with a lower body injury.

His status for the 2012 season will be evaluated before preseason camp begins. Spruill has started every game over the past two seasons, and was a second-team All-Big East selection this season.

This month, the school announced that starting receiver Alec Lemon and cornerback Keon Lyn would also be out for the spring.
The question comes up every time an opponent faces West Virginia.

How do you stop Geno Smith and the offense?

[+] EnlargeShamarko Thomas
Chuck Cook/US PresswireSafety Shamarko Thomas and Syracuse face an explosive West Virginia passing attack.
That is of particular importance to Syracuse as the Orange prepare to host No. 15 West Virginia on Friday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Syracuse has struggled against the pass this season, allowing four teams to go over 300 yards passing. Rutgers was three yards away from 300, so clearly this is an area of concern.

Especially when you consider West Virginia has the No. 4 passing offense and has thrown for more than 400 yards in three games this season.

What makes West Virginia different than the other opponents Syracuse has faced is its ability to stretch the field with a variety of go-to players. Against USC, for example, the Orange could focus on Robert Woods. Against Rutgers, they could focus on Mohamed Sanu.

But West Virginia has Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and Ivan McCartney, who each rank in the Top 4 in the league in receiving yards per game and receptions per game.

"Each week, we play against great receivers and now we're playing against multiple great receivers, so we have more players out there that we have to be alert for," coach Doug Marrone said. "If you commit to try and take one of those players away, which we've tried to do against some of those other teams, and force the quarterback to throw to those other receivers, well, this quarterback has thrown to those other receivers. That's the challenge of what goes on with this team, but from a schematic standpoint, it's much more difficult to take these guys out of the game because they are all over and they are spread out across the field."

Bailey leads the team with 634 yards receiving and five touchdowns on 32 receptions. Austin leads the team with 42 receptions for 564 yards and two touchdowns. McCartney has 34 catches for 455 yards and three touchdwons.

Twelve different receivers have at least one catch, and seven of
those receivers have scored a touchdown. Seven also have double-figure receptions.

Syracuse has been banged up on defense, particularly in the secondary. Shamarko Thomas, Keon Lyn, Ri'Shard Anderson and Olando Fisher all have nursed injuries. That has left some young, inexperienced players in the back end.

But Marrone says this is the healthiest his team has been all season, and it is imperative his unit slows down Smith the way it did last season.

"Geno Smith is a good quarterback and if you allow him to sit back and pick your defense apart, that is something he will do," said Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, who returns this week. "He has a lot of guys who complement him like Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, guys in the open field who can make big plays. Our job is not to let Geno Smith sit in the pocket and pick us apart."

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen worried that his team would lose rhythm during the bye, but his concerns were alleviated when he saw his team practice. The timing is there, McCartney says. Now West Virginia has to start as fast as it finishes games.

"Most of our numbers come in the second half," McCartney said. "If we were to put together a full game like we do in the second half, I believe we can put 100 points up on the board."

Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu turns it up

September, 30, 2011
Hard as it may seem, Mohamed Sanu went into the season a little bit overshadowed.

Mark Harrison had a standout season last year. Brandon Coleman was the talk of the spring. Tim Wright got some buzz as he returned from a knee injury.

Sanu? Just a part of a talented receiving corps.

Then the games kicked off. Now we know Sanu is not just a part of the group -- he is the best player in the group. And it's not even close.

[+] EnlargeMohamed Sanu
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireMohamed Sanu has had a phenomenal start to the season, catching 36 passess for 363 yards and four touchdowns.
Sanu goes into Saturday's conference opener against Syracuse off the most productive game in league history. Sanu caught a league-record 16 passes against Ohio last week, following up on his 13-reception game at North Carolina.

He has 36 receptions for 363 yards on the season -- nearly half of Rutgers' team total of 62. He leads the nation in receptions per game and is No. 8 in receiving yards per game (121). And he has four of Rutgers' seven receiving touchdowns.

Two major factors have contributed to his early success: He is completely healthy and completely focused on receiver.

"Everybody has a guy that has special talents. That's Mohamed," coach Greg Schiano said. "Because of that, we needed to use him in the Wildcat because we felt that was the only way to run the football effectively. This year, he's back at his natural position and he's doing a fine job."

Sanu said he has focused on his technique and trusted his training so far this year. But he did not really set any goals for himself for this season.

"I just came into the season open minded," Sanu said. "I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or how I was going to do it. I'm just trying to play well each and every game."

Asked for his thoughts on leading the NCAA in receptions, Sanu said, "I don’t really pay attention to any of that stuff. I'm just trying to help my team win. If that’s how we’ve got to do it, I’m just going to embrace my role and continue to play at a high level."

Certainly Schiano would like some of his other receivers to step up. Fullback Joe Martinek is the next closest to Sanu with five receptions. Harrison and Coleman have three each. Wright has four.

They could get an opportunity against the Orange, who have had their share of struggles against the pass. Syracuse has given up 10 passing touchdowns -- second worst in the nation. The Orange rank No. 91 in pass efficiency defense and No. 106 in passing defense.

Both Wake Forest and USC threw for over 300 yards against Syracuse. Two receivers -- Chris Givens of Wake Forest (seven catches, 170 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Eric Page of Toledo (13 catches, 148 yards) -- notched 100-yard games this season as well. Syracuse also had to defend USC receiver Robert Woods.

But Syracuse has been dealing with injuries to several of its top players in the secondary. Keon Lyn, Ri'Shard Anderson, Olando Fisher and Shamarko Thomas all have been hobbled. Coach Doug Marrone closed practice this week, and it is unknown who will be able to go on defense.

You can bet whoever is out there will be focused on Sanu.

"He's one of the better athletes -- if not the best athlete on the field," Marrone said. "He can make every catch, he can run all the different routes -- short game, intermediate, down the field. The line does a great job of protecting. This has been a recurring theme for us. We had Woods, we had Page. Now we have Sanu."

Big East practice report

August, 16, 2011
Taking a look at practice around the league:

Cincinnati: Several freshmen have already impressed their teammates. One tradition during fall camp is for the young players to lose the stripes on their helmets when their "big brother" on the team feels they've earned it. On Monday, defensive back Trenier Orr had his stripe removed by Camerron Cheatham and receiver Shaq Washington had his stripe removed by Zach Collaros.

Connecticut: The Huskies have spent time shuffling around players on their offensive line to see who gives them the best fit. The only locks -- tackle Mike Ryan and center Moe Petrus. Everybody else has been shifted.

"We're moving people around, looking at our depth so that guys can play different positions," offensive line coach Mike Foley told the Hartford Courant. "A guy like Gary Bardzak can play both at guard and he can also play center so it gives you that flexibility so you can always get your five best on the field. A guy like Adam Masters who plays tackle but also is playing guard and that allows us, with (tackle) Kevin Friend, to get some work with that first group, move it around and see what our best combination of guys is and really take it from there."

Louisville: Freshman Lorenzo Mauldin has moved from defensive end to tight end. Mauldin was moved to give the Cardinals some bodies at that position because of injuries to Nate Nord and Stephon Ball. Both players are expected to return to practice in the next few days. In another position switch, tight end Jordan Tennyson has moved to defensive end. Receiver Michaelee Harris has been practicing with a soft cast on his thumb, but made a couple of great catches during team work Monday morning.

Pitt: The Panthers are going to go with Ryan Turnley at center and Chris Jacobson at guard, though the two are still competing at center. Coach Todd Graham said during the scrimmage Sunday there were four mishandled snaps, so Turnley has to keep working. Jacobson is getting reps at left guard with the starters and center with the second unit. Graham wants his starting five to play together this week. "We need to get to the point where five guys are repping together constantly as a unit," Graham said. Receiver Cameron Saddler and cornerback K'Waun Williams sat out practice Monday because they were "dinged up." Receiver Devin Street left practice early, but Graham didn't think the injury was serious.

Rutgers: Coach Greg Schiano still wants to see more out of his offensive line, even after an impressive rushing performance in the scrimmage Saturday. "We have to make sure we protect better, continue to protect better. We protected better than we have but not good enough for a game," Schiano said. Running back Jawan Jamison (hamstring) returned to practice but was limited. Meanwhile, receivers Brandon Coleman and Miles Shuler, defensive end Manny Abreu and running back Jeremy Deering all wore non-contact jerseys.

Syracuse: Some injured players have slowly started to make their return to the field for the Orange. Running back Prince-Tyson Gulley and Steve Rene were in full pads Monday. Both should be cleared for full contact soon. Safety Shamarko Thomas also is likely to be back on the field today, and cornerback Keon Lyn could return this weekend. Coach Doug Marrone was asked whether he was worried about any of his injured players being out for the opener Sept. 1. Offensive lineman Sean Hickey is out for the season, but Marrone also is worried about lineman Ian Allport because of the severity of his concussion.

USF: Quarterback B.J. Daniels participated fully in both practices Monday. Fullback Armando Sanchez has moved back to linebacker from fullback. Coach Skip Holtz said the decision to redshirt all the freshmen linebackers played into the decision. Holtz also singled out all the true freshmen he expects to play this season, including defensive tackle Elkino Watson and receivers Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez.

West Virginia: Coach Dana Holgorsen has had high praise for young running backs Vernard Roberts, Dustin Garrison, Trey Johnson and Andrew Buie. But the Mountaineers may not necessarily go with a running back by committee approach. Nor are they looking for somebody who is going to be an afterthought to the passing game. Running backs coach Robert Gillespie told the Times West Virginian: "We would like a guy we could strap the team on his back and go,” he said.
The injuries continue to mount for Syracuse as starting strong safety Shamarko Thomas joined the list of players on the sideline, the school announced Thursday night.

Thomas is out until further notice after sustaining a concussion during practice Wednesday. Backup center Ian Allport and freshman offensive tackle Nick Robinson also are out with concussions.

Both starting safeties are now out of full contact drills. Starting free safety Phillip Thomas has a broken jaw. Also on the sideline: reserve offensive guard Nick Lepak (concussion) and linebacker Zack McCarrell (hamstring). Coach Doug Marrone also said offensive guard Jarel Lowery was injured Wednesday and cornerback Keon Lyn was injured Thursday. Both were being evaluated.

Syracuse had nine offensive linemen available to practice Thursday, but Marrone said he was not going to alter his practice routine. He was interested, however, in seeing how his team handles adversity.

"I'm concerned about mental toughness and physical toughness and how do we move forward," Marrone said after practice.