After an injury-laden season in 2016, Dino Babers said that his top priority for the 2017 opener versus Central Connecticut State was to stay healthy. To put it lightly, the head man did not get his wish on Friday night.
Early in the first quarter, safety Antwan Cordy went down with an apparent lower-leg injury after a CCSU player fell on the area between his knee and ankle on his right leg. News got even worse for SU fans when he reappeared from the locker room in the second quarter with a boot on his leg and crutches under his arms. Just a season after a broken left forearm in week 2 sidelined Cordy for the rest of the season, the injury bug has struck him again.
That being said, Orange fans shouldn’t panic quite yet. After the game, Babers said that the team had not been notified of the extent of Cordy’s injury. The way he made it sound seemed to mean that Babers didn’t think that the injury was season-ending. However, in the event that Cordy’s injury is more serious than it first appeared, it’s important to look at how it could affect the Orange moving forward.
First and foremost, the biggest asset that Syracuse would be missing out on without Cordy is starting experience. The redshirt junior started all 12 games as a sophomore in 2015 and that kind of in-game experience is something that the rest of the SU secondary really lacks. The other three starters at defensive back for Babers (CBs Scoop Bradshaw and Chris Frederick and SS Evan Foster) had just six starts combined coming into the season.
Another concern for SU should Cordy miss extended time is just how poorly it performed without him a year ago. In 2016 the Orange ranked 114th out of 128 FBS teams in passing defense, allowing an average of 276 yards per game. Playing free safety, Cordy is essentially the quarterback of the defense and losing him could see SU struggle to defend the pass again.
Even with those concerns, it does look like Babers has a contingency plan to help make up for Cordy if he misses more time than we think. Redshirt senior Jordan Martin replaced Cordy on Friday and played admirably in his spot. The graduate transfer from Toledo brings a lot of experience similar to Cordy’s and also offers great size at the safety position. Martin stands at 6 feet 3 inches, dwarfing Cordy’s 5-foot-8-inch frame.
Babers has also said that he considers the secondary to be one of the Orange’s deepest units and there is a whole host of supporting characters that could help the DB corps. Notre Dame transfer Devin M. Butler has already played a Power 5 schedule in the past and could help to fill the experience void left by Cordy. Along with redshirt junior corner Juwan Dowels, who missed almost all of last season after tearing his ACL and MCL, the Syracuse secondary looks like it may just be able to hold up in the event of Cordy missing time.
Again, there is no guarantee that Cordy will be out for an extended period, but the injury certainly doesn’t help things for a Syracuse defense that already looked like it was going to be the weak spot of the 2017 season. However, with the depth and experience that SU can find in its second-string DBs, if the Florida native does end up missing time, Orange fans shouldn’t have to worry too much.