The secondary struggled in ACC play last year. Will the Orange be better prepared for 2014?
Yesterday the Fizz took a look at the offensive line situation for the upcoming season, and previously we looked at the receivers and running backs as well. Another major area for the team is the defensive backs group. Going into next season, the defensive backfield will look different without Ri’Shard Anderson and Keon Lyn, although Lyn missed much of last season. However, Durrell Eskridge returns to lead the SU secondary after a strong finish last season.
Eskridge will be a key for the Orange. He came on especially strong at the end of last season with 12 tackles and a forced fumble against Pittsburgh. His play needs to carry over to this season as he enters his redshirt junior season. As an older member of team, he will be looked to as a leader, and possibly a captain. After recording 78 tackles and four interceptions last year, look for those number to increase, as Eskridge could play every defensive snap for the Orange this season.
Wayne Morgan is the next name to watch in the secondary. He played a big role last year after Lyn’s injury. Morgan stepped in at corner after and was solid on the outside. However, his 21 tackles and no passes defended will definitely increase as his playing time increases. Last year, Morgan did not start a game for the Orange, but with both starting cornerbacks, Morgan should see an increase in playing time this fall.
Another name to remember in the secondary is Julian Whigham, who will be coming back from a scary injury in the Florida State game that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Whigham likely slides into the starting corner role that he had before his injury. If not, he will be battling with both Morgan and Brandon Reddish for playing time on the edges.
Reddish returns as one of the senior members of the SU secondary and again will have a big role. He didn’t always stay in front of his man last year, but when he did, Reddish provided pretty good coverage, defending four passes and tallying 36 tackles. It is important that he makes improvements on last season because the Orange needs him on the field playing consistently against the wide receivers in the ACC.
Last year, the secondary became a punching bag for the defense’s problems and rightfully so. However, it is also important to remember the effects of the move to the ACC. ACC teams overall are faster, have better passing attacks and are better than the teams SU played in the old Big East. In the Orange’s second season in the ACC, the team will likely be more prepared for the speed and quality of its conference opponents, and with that, whoever plays in the SU secondary will need to do a better job of staying in front of opposing receivers to limit the big plays.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg