Greg Robinson succeeded the fired Paul Pasqualoni in January

Aug. 29, 2005

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Greg Robinson is less than a week away from his first game as a head coach, and the new leader of the Syracuse Orange exuded confidence as he began preparing for the big day.

"I feel very confident with what I'm doing," said Robinson, who replaced the fired Paul Pasqualoni in January. "That doesn't mean I have all the answers. I'll tell you Sunday."

Robinson, whose long career has been strictly as an assistant at every level of the game, said he won't know how the team will perform until it is truly tested.

The speculation will end Sunday in the Carrier Dome against Big East foe West Virginia.

"We're excited that it's a Big East game, and we're excited that it's West Virginia," said Robinson, his ring finger sagging under the weight of a Super Bowl ring he earned with the Denver Broncos. "For 50 years, this game has been going on. These two teams know each other very well."

According to the depth chart released Monday, Syracuse will have 11 new players - six on offense and five on defense - as starters. On offense, Tim Lane and Landel Bembo were slated to start at wide receiver, with sophomore Rice Moss and freshman Bruce Williams, a Syracuse native, listed second.

Williams excelled in his senior year here at Christian Brothers Academy with 92 catches for 1,414 yards and 25 touchdowns and has become a familiar figure on campus since signing to play for Syracuse in February.

"You could tell by what he did all spring," Robinson said. "He came over on his own, watched every practice, sat in on almost every meeting he could, was here every day in the summertime. And then his intent is so strong to try to be a player. He's a guy that you can count on, and that's a big thing."

"It's good being here and getting a chance to play," Williams said. "It's great being a local boy. It brings more excitement to the team."

Robinson said freshman Lavar Lobdell, also a star wideout last season for CBA, had been hampered by shoulder and hamstring injuries in preseason camp but had looked "pretty darned good" the last two days of practice.

"We'll feel that out as the week goes on," Robinson said. "Lavar, give him credit, too. He put a lot of time in, and we'd like to reap the benefits just like he would."

Senior Damien Rhodes, also a Syracuse-area native, is set to start at tailback, with Kareem Jones as his backup. Jones also will return kickoffs, while Bembo is listed as the punt returner.

"He's worked very hard. That's what I've asked him to do," Robinson said of Rhodes, who led the Orange in rushing last season. "His dream is to go on to pro football. He's learned. It's a process. We want him to be a very consistent back, in pass protection as well as running the football and staying healthy. I'd like to believe the process is in place and that he's going to continue to develop as the year goes on."

Robinson said that, barring injury, there was no intent to rotate quarterbacks, which Pasqualoni had done almost every year after Donovan McNabb graduated in 1998. Junior Perry Patterson was named the starter on Monday over sophomore Joe Fields.

"The intent now is to have a starting quarterback. That's the way we've talked from day one," Robinson said. "That's the mind-set. If Perry's the starting quarterback, we're expecting him to do well."

The kicking game remains a question. Sophomore Ricky Krautman, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, is listed first on the depth chart as place-kicker, ahead of freshmen Patrick Shadle and John Barker. Robinson said he would tab his starter later in the week.

"There's no reason to have to do it. I'd rather keep the pressure on," Robinson said. "We won't wait until game day, though, but I don't feel any pressure to do anything right now. It's just a matter of the three guys continuing to work. I want to keep looking."