Last week former Syracuse Football Linebackers Coach Steve Stanard left the program to take a job at Kansas State. Now, just a few days later Dino Babers has already found his next guy– Chris Achuff.
Most recently, Achuff was with the Arizona Cardinals for two seasons, one as the defensive line coach and the other as the assistant defensive line coach. While in Arizona, he coached former Syracuse player Chandler Jones. Achuff is most known for spending eight years, from 2008-2016, as the d-line coach at Baylor. During part of his time with the Bears, Achuff coached alongside Babers. He has spent 19 years at the collegiate level, bouncing around from school to school as a positional coach, but never anything more than that.
Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly of the hire.
Achuff has a lot of experience. 19 years in college and the past two years in the pros. He has plenty of knowledge and the teams he has coached for have been relatively successful. Achuff also played linebacker in the 90’s at Bloomsburg. Former players usually understand the game just a little better than pure coaches, so that playing time could come in handy.
Achuff hasn’t been in charge of a linebacking unit since 2001 and that was at Kutztown University (what is that??). He was the outside linebackers coach at Bryant in 1999, then the linebackers coach at Kutztown from 2000-2001. Since then, he has been working exclusively with defensive lines.
Pair Achuff’s lack of work with linebackers with a linebacking core that is easily the weakness of the Syracuse defense and it is worrisome. What’s even more worrisome is the increased reliability of linebackers in SU’s new 3-3-5 defense. With only three linemen, the linebackers need to step up and be sure tacklers, which is something they’ve struggled with in the past. It’s not like the Orange have freak talents at linebacker, which makes the coach even more important. Achuff’s lack of work with linebackers doesn’t serve as a confidence boost.
There have been a lot of changes to the Syracuse coaching staff over the off season. Babers is rebuilding and Achuff is the next step in that build. Only time will tell if it was a right decision or not, but for now, welcome to Syracuse Chris Achuff.