Chandler Jones’ Return + Blitz-Happy Defense = Syracuse’s BCS Bowl?

Chan and an aggressive defense may help the Orange find the long-lost Big East title.

The man who predicted 30 sacks in the offseason had some catching up to do against West Virginia. He may not reach that goal, but Syracuse fans will let him off the hook. Chandler Jones returned to the field for SU’s dominating 49-23 victory over the Mountaineers and made an immediate difference on a hungry Orange defensive unit that wiped the turf with Geno Smith.

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Jones had 6 tackles, 2 sacks and drove Smith out of the pocket numerous times, forcing him to make uncomfortable throws all night. It was a relief to see #99 back on the field, who said it “felt great” to return, but gave all the credit to his defensive coordinator, Scott Shafer.

“Our team as a whole (played well). Coach Shafer did a great job of knowing when to call a blitz and when to sit back. Congratulations to Coach Shafer, he put a great game plan together.”

Shafer called for blitzes early and often, and his defense got to Smith at the right times. When the Orange led 21-9 late in the 2nd quarter (and the upset was still just a distant dream) West Virginia was driving, looking to cut the deficit. Jones stifled their charge downfield with back-to-back sacks, one of which coming on a just a three man rush from SU. Jones, who looked as motivated as ever, was able to get around the edge with ease. He was locked in on Smith all night, and was waiting for this matchup for weeks.

“I knew I was going to make the West Virginia game. So I have been scouting (Smith) since then. We just game planned and got a lot of pressure on Geno, so I am psyched for that.”

The WVU attack was not used to this sort of pressure, and Shafer knew it. SU sacked Smith four times, only one less than in his previous four games. This forced him to throw two bad interceptions, one into a pack of four Orange defenders late in the first half, the other when he was hit by Jones stepping up in the pocket at the end of the third. The only way SU could win was to put that offense up against the wall. Doug Marrone gave credit to his players who practiced hard all week after their bye.

“We said it during the week. We just had to do a good job of keeping the quarterback off balance, and we did a good job with that for most of the game. You have to keep him off balance and keep mixing it up. Coach Shafer and the defensive staff did a nice job and credit to the players for executing and really doing a good job.”

Jones and SU’s front four played with the most intensity we’ve seen all year. Maybe even enough to impress the likes of West Virginia AD Oliver Luck. Shafer needs to keep the pressure on over the next couple games, as SU will face two inexperienced quarterbacks in Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and UConn’s Johnny McEntee.

The Orange took down mighty WVU. Now it needs to sustain this play, and not stumble to the finish line like a year ago. Having the extra bye week on November 19th will do wonders. The Orange finished last season with eight straight games without a break, and dropped three of its final four contests.

The Big East is now wide open and Syracuse has all the momentum in the world. And with their defensive leader back on the field, the sky is the limit for an inspired Orange squad.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

7 Comments on this Post

  1. We beat a good football team yes but 2 weeks ago we escaped tulane who got blown out by a Utep team whose only projected win was against stony brook (which they beat in ot) and now that we have Chandler jones were making a bcs bowl? I wish so, but we lost 2 rutgers and cincy looks like the clear #1 in the be so I project a #3 finish w no Ray Graham or usf be wins lousiville and uconn Shood b wins and then u guys r gunna say were gunna win the ‘ship, this is definitley a great yr 2 b a cuse fan but let’s not count our chickens just yet r defensive scheme of blitzing ALOT is becoming predictable and we can’t run without a setup from the pass so were scoutable and in perfect poisition 2 b hammered this Saturday so let’s stay modest and keep the wvu as an upset instead of our statement win for the bcs race, it wood b nice but it’s extremely improbable

  2. Good to see you have confidence in us Connor! True fan!….

  3. Connor is right in some respects. What SU fan doesnt want to see the cuse go to a BCS game, but that has been our only decisive win of the year which is a little bit troubling after barely beating teams like Tulane and such. It was a great win and we put ourselves in a great position to make a BCS bowl.. but we’re not there yet. One game at a time.

  4. I’m just concerned about Louisville right now. They are a very, very, very different team than WVU. We beat WVU because we beat them physically; also we had good personnel match ups (Nick Provo vs. WVU’s linebackers, for instance). But Louisville is MUCH more physical than West Virginia and they play a much more aggressive, attacking style of defense (and they play it very well: highest ranked defence in the conference) – which is the style our offense has struggled against so far. HCDM has said himself, this Louisville is practically “built to beat us.”

  5. Any time a CUSE fan questions situations(lousy Tulane game and then rout by UTEP) they are poor fans or trolls. Well tomorrow’s game is big. Its a must win if this program is going any where. 3 years is enough for HCDM to do his magic. After all he’s getting the god like sediment from the fans. Lousiville is a decent team but not Alabama or Stanford. We should beat them. It will be close but victory should be ours!!!

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