4. College Football News Preview 2020: Syracuse Orange Defense 3 Things To Know
– The worst part about the defense struggling so much last season was the experience – the veterans were in place to be far better than second-to-last overall in the ACC in total D. The run defense allowed more than 200 yards per game and the secondary got hit way too hard – the defense allowed 30 points or more seven times in the last 11 games.
– The pass rush takes the biggest hit. The group could’ve used a spring session – a rotation has to be found on the front three. Ends Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson are off to the NFL, and LB Lakeim Williams is done after leading the team in tackles for loss. 277-pound senior Josh Black spent time on the inside throughout last year, but he’ll work on the end with 283-pound McKinley Williams back from a foot injury.
The line is an issue, but the linebackers are an even bigger problem. Losing Williams is tough, and not having Andrew Armstrong around anymore doesn’t help. Sophomore Mikel Jones made 38 tackles and should find a home in the middle early on, but 236-pound Tyrell Richards brings more size to the group.
This group will be good with a little bit of work, but it’s not going to get a whole lot of help from the defensive front in the opener against Boston College.
– On the plus side, the secondary should be a positive. Junior Andre Cisco is back after yet another fantastic season. A ball-magnet, he’s made 12 interceptions in his first two seasons, and he’s the leading returning tackler with 65 tackles at his safety spot.
Junior Ifeatu Melifonwu is a 6-3, 206-pound corner who breaks up a ton of passes and is great at getting physical. Cisco, Melifonwu, and junior Eric Coley at rover form a great nucleus that should be one of the team’s biggest positives, but the front six has to do its part.