Syracuse Spring Football is in full swing and a optimistic Dino Babers addressed the media this morning about the steps his team is taking to improve in his second season. Babers told the media that he is feeling much better about his team as they continue to learn a new system on both sides of the ball, but he is particuarly encouraged by the signs of improvement from his defense, which was absolutely woeful during the 2016 season.
Babers said that he feels that his defense has become much more physical and that they are taking significant strides towards learning the system.
“I think the biggest thing is the guys are being more physical. They know where to go. They’re being more physical, and I think they’re having a lot more fun doing it.”
That can’t be a bad thing but how much of the defensive woes last season were really down to the team not being physical enough? The team gave up more than 6,000 total yards and 61 total touchdowns… In just 12 games. Those problems aren’t solved by being more physical. Two times the Orange gave up a huge play on the first play of the game simply because one of the opposing wide recievers just beat his cornerback off the line. Sure, pressing at the line might slow him down a little bit, but if the receiver is just more athletic than the guy covering him there isn’t much that can be done. The Tampa-2 is supposed to limit big plays but it can only do that if the team has players capable of playing that defensive scheme.
The Orange really struggled on all aspects of the defensive side of the ball. There was little to no pass rush, a mediocre run defense and a porous secondary. “Getting physical” may sound all well and good but don’t expect Syracuse to vastly improve on defense solely because they are hitting people harder. It will have to be done through recruiting the right players for the system and teaching the players on the roster the new system.