Reyes suffered a torn muscle in his right shoulder
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni delivered a message Monday that clearly pained him, but not as much as it hurt senior tailback Walter Reyes.
"Walter will not play this week," Pasqualoni said at the start of his weekly press conference with the media. "Walter's out. We would be cautiously optimistic for the BC game."
Reyes, a co-captain and the team's leading rusher with 800 yards, suffered a torn muscle in his right shoulder early in the third quarter of Syracuse's double-overtime victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday. That likely will end his attempt to become the first player in school history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
"We just want him to be 100 percent. That's all," Pasqualoni said. "In this game, you put the next guy in and you move on. You don't dwell on injuries, nor do you use them as excuses. We have to be ready to go to Philadelphia and play and we've got good backs. We've got guys who have got to step up. That's all part of the game. I don't think you can sit around and say, 'Oh, geez, Walter can't play.' You have to move on."
The victory was the second straight for the Orange (5-4, 3-1 Big East) and moved them into sole possession of second place in the conference. It also kept alive their hopes for one of the five bowls the Big East has contracts with. Syracuse needs to win one of its two remaining games, either at Temple this Saturday or at Boston College on Nov. 27, to become bowl eligible.
"We need these wins to stay alive," linebacker Tommy Harris said. "We're doing what we have to do."
When Reyes left the game, the bulk of the running fell on the shoulders of junior Damien Rhodes, and he responded in a big way. Rhodes finished with 103 yards on 23 carries, and 81 came after halftime. He also accounted for all 25 yards on the winning drive in the second overtime, scoring on a 2-yard run, and displayed a demeanor that even caught his teammates by surprise.
"Damien was really intense, and I haven't seen that from him," Harris said. "He was pumped. It (the absence of Reyes) is going to hurt, but can we overcome it? Most definitely."
Although countless fans have criticized Pasqualoni for the complex offense, Syracuse continues to use and the predictability of the team's playcalling, the Orange stunned the Panthers with a big play in the first half that was just as important as the clinching touchdown.
Freshman Joe Fields replaced starter Perry Patterson for one play at quarterback and threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jared Jones that gave Syracuse a 21-6 lead. It worked just as it was drawn up on paper and was obviously gratifying - for Fields, who had never thrown a TD pass in college and had not thrown a pass in a game in six weeks, and for the coaching staff.
"That was a good play," Pasqualoni said. "The nice thing was he got it off before he got hit. He kept his poise and delivered the ball on time. It obviously unfolded and developed the way you hoped it would. They saw him come down the line with the ball and they thought it was going to be an option play."
The Pitt defenders were fooled because they had only one play to draw on. Pasqualoni had inserted Fields for only one play the previous week against Connecticut, an option that didn't work.
"I'm sure the Pitt kids on defense did not realize he (Fields) was in the game until he walked up under the center. I'm sure of that," Pasqualoni said. "Now, once he walk ups under the center, then you go back to what the scouting reports say. And the scouting reports said last week that he came in and ran an option play, so I'm sure that's what registered. They played the option. That's why he scored. It worked exactly right."
Pasqualoni said safety Diamond Ferri, who shared Big East defensive player of the week honors for his 12-tackle performance against Pitt, would be considered in certain running situations but has not practiced at all at tailback. Ferri was a star runner in high school. ... Pasqualoni said Collin Barber would do the place-kicking against Temple. Barber lost the starting job for one game after missing three field goals at West Virginia, but his 27-yarder with 71 seconds left in regulation against Pitt tied the score at 24 and forced the overtime.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press