Dyshawn Davis & Linebackers Have Become the Heart of Syracuse’s Defense

Chuck Bullough will have to get this group into the backfield to slow down some explosive ACC attacks.

Chuck Bullough had a lot on his plate while coaching in the NFL the last two seasons. The former Browns coach admitted he didn’t know a lot about the new Orange group he’d took over during the spring and summer months. The new defensive coordinator was on the lookout for a group of leaders. That ended up being Syracuse’s stout linebacking corps.

This is SU’s strongest bunch on the defensive side of the ball. It not only features a perfect blend of size, speed, athleticism and agility, it also possesses the necessary leadership needed to venture into year one of the ACC. The three key returning figures – and current starters – Dyshawn Davis, Marquis Spruill and Cam Lynch compiled 173 tackles last year, 27.5 of those for loss. More importantly their ability to guide their defense and new players has been second to none. Spruill will anchor the middle the field this season, and is blown away by the strides his teammates have made throughout the summer.

“Compared to the spring, people’s technique’s have gotten better like Cam [Lynch] and Dyshawn [Davis]. Even new guys like Luke [Arciniega] and [Josh Kirkland], everybody has gotten better and faster. Cam and Dyshawn have matured, they were like my little brothers at first, I had to watch them, pull their ears, beat them up sometimes. But now, they’re becoming young men.”

This group has a knack for the football. Linebackers accumulated nine sacks last season, compared to 13 from the defensive line. Expect the LB’s to have an even more impactful pass rush this year. Orange Nation knows how much Scott Shafer likes to blitz, and with a defensive line that features two new starters in Robert Welsh and Micah Robinson, why not bring more from the edge with your LB’s? Syracuse has a ton of size on the interior of the line that can clog the run lanes, and pave the way for Lynch and Davis to get the quarterback effectively.

Lynch will be the X-Factor this fall. He recorded 4 sacks last season, and now as a junior with an expanded starting roll, his quickness will lead to even more success. His eyes just light up at the thought of blitzing. Davis thinks the group will also get a necessary boost from a true freshman this season.

“Marqez Hodge. He kind of surprised us at the first scrimmage at Fort Drum just the way  he moves, he’s very twitchy, he’s always flying to the ball, accelerates at contact. He gives 110% of effort all the time, he has impressed me the most by far.”

The Miami native was ranked the 55th best LB in the Class of 2013 by Scout, and possesses a maturity that landed him a back-up role in his first year. Bullough loves the senior leadership of the entire defense. And because of it, guys like Hodge have emerged as potential game-changers.

“That’s the great thing about this team is they are a tight knit group. You see guys like Cam who has Hodge behind him [on the depth chart], and he’ll be working extra with him, and they’re battling, but they’ve been really good about helping the younger guys. They know the competition at their position makes the team better.”

Filling out the rest of Bullough’s packed linebacking corps are JuCo transfers Luke Arciniega and Josh Kirkland. They bring size (Arciniega is 6’2” and nearly 245 lbs) and experience (Kirkland played for Butler Community College, the powerhouse of the JuCo world, which won 5 National Championships over the last 15 years).

It’s certainly been a tough summer for the entire defense. Spruill jokingly recounted the defense has been working for TWO drill sergeants in preparation for this season.

“I thought Coach Shafer is crazy, he doesn’t have anything on Coach Bullough. [He’s] absolutely mad, but he’s a great coach. (laughs) It’s kind of like having two [Scott Shafer’s]. They’re both great, they don’t hold their tongue for anything.” 

This is what’s driven the defense. A constant work ethic, one that won’t be satisfied until they’re hoisting another bowl trophy like the one they collected at Yankee Stadium late last December. Bullough may be tough on the group, but Davis admitted his philosophies will benefit the team when they go toe to toe with much more speed in the ACC.

“We’ve been focusing on controlling our body in open space. That’s what the defense is going to depend on a lot, first year in a new conference. Making tackles in the open field, being able to breakdown and control our body movement.”

They may not be the biggest group, but the Orange LB’s will live on speed and conditioning against some of the fastest offenses like Clemson and Florida State. They’re strength is the blitz, and with Shafer around, Orange Nation knows it will see a lot of it. The Orange senior leaders will make sure of it.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

16 Comments on this Post

  1. Love these kids!! LB/DB/S will be the strength of the “D”!! But come on Kevin aren’t you and others forgetting something like PSU and NORTHWESTERN!! Yes PSU does have some ?????????????’s about them. But you and SU fans seem to forget this whole summer and near fall about NW. Remember them last year at the Dome. Well they are alot better and SU plays them at their place. Not a push over at all. The ACC move is probably the best move ever SU has made in its football history in the LONG run. Dumping the Big Least was right!! But do not forget about the first 2 games. The media/fans are concentrating on the ACC and rightly so!! But this ain’t college basketball where the season really starts in March not Oct/Nov!! Unlike basketball EVERY game counts. So lets get down with it and BEAT PSU first before thinking about ACC. Hell then comes NW!! OUCH!!

  2. I thought that this unit would in fact be the heart of the defense, I’m hoping like everyone else that this manifests itself early like playing against PennState. Nailing the lions early is a requirement this Saturday. Its gotta be done on both sides of the ball “early”.Coming from behind isn’t a great idea in the early games.

  3. I came away from Fan Fest saying the line backers were big and fast. Hell,the whole secondary is big and fast.

    This team is going to surprise a whole lot of people,especially all of the ESPN pundits that hasn’t given Syracuse a nickles worth of commentary this year.

    @Terry;after Syracuse kicks Penn States backside on Saturday,I’ll be thinking about you when your setting with your family having dinner. Please don’t forget to mention that we love our orangemen as much as they love their Nittney Lions.

    Oh!Terry I forgot to mention,when I was a drinking fool I use to drink Wilsons Whiskey and sometimes Vodka straight from the bottle. Have one on me,and please remember that I told everyone,the key to the 2013 season was the Penn St game.

    One down and eight more to go==GLORY,GLORY,GLORY for the Syracuse orangemen.

  4. OrangeCrush27

    Linebacker (S)U

  5. orangeinva

    Looking at the depth chart…

    I saw a lot of talent on the 2s…
    warm and muggy on Saturday..PSU is a bit light with the roster. CUSE must own the 2nd half…blitz and hits…we don’t have to be at the dome to “lock the door”!!

  6. Got to at least go 1-1 for those two tough first games. Then beat Wagner and Tulane. 3-1 going in to bye and Clemson at home. Lets shock the world that day and go 4-1 with upset of Clemson!

  7. Calm down Ron!! After the PSU game we’ll sit down for a feast either way. Either they pay or I pay!! It could be a late night out. Grand-kids are eager for that to!! The family loves it!! Its only who pays for the “WHOLE” thing!! Never much for out of the bottle kind of guy. Don’t like the back wash. But with Votka it would kill all those ugly particles. Rum guy mostly!! Leaving Thur afternoon for NJ. Will take my lap-top for Fridays words of wisdom. I’ll try not to Ron it!! LOL!!

  8. @Terry;

    Some good ole Jack Daniels isn’t to bad either. If you have to water it down with something,then why drink it at all?

    Enjoy the game Terry,but most of all enjoy the family and the grandkids. Do me a favor,if your in a section and some people start to swear and use that ugly word,please turn and tell them to shut their mouths. Tell them that Ron told you to tell them to keep quiet.

    Enjoy the day.

  9. Ron and Terry…2 guys that are more alike than they’d like to admit?What I appreciate is listening to your words because youz both mean what you say and say what you mean whether anyone likes it or not!Lol..its alright because its all good natured and w/o malicious intent!Boy the browsers and lurkers must really have fun reading our spiel here!Now I see why so many find us amusing and I hope on Saturday we can really have fun here after we remind PSU who we are…nothing better than football weekends when were winning!Have fun Saturday guys and Sunday we can brag some here!!No matter what happens your family will give you strength and joy.

  10. Ron I’ll be one of those “some people” if the game turns sour!! LOL!!

    Still no word on SUFB Facilities!! Correct me, but I thought DR Gross said by August!! 2 days remain. What goes??? again the media hits up on other stories and not follow-up on this issue instead!!

  11. Terry, From what I understand, the facility is being slowed due to cost estimates not aligning and conflicts of opinions between involved parties. Any building including this one is a large operation. This has two architects, the school, a constructioin management firm, the athletics department, the local neighborhood, the city…

  12. Looking forward to the game. Really hope they can get the W.. i fear this team will be 2-3 after the Clemson game.

    I hope I’m wrong

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