Syracuse is off to a 2-0 start, but things have been far from pretty for the Orange out of the gate. SU has had its share of problems on the field despite being able to pull out two narrow victories at home. Many of those issues have been execution-related, but¬†the injury bug has been high on the Orange‚Äôs list of worries since training camp. Now, heading into one of the biggest tests of the season, Syracuse will be without its defensive leader, Doug Marrone announced Monday.
‚ÄúChandler Jones is not gonna play this week so we lost our best, you know, arguably our best defensive player.‚Äù
Missing Jones for Rhode Island is one thing, but going across the country to play one of the nation‚Äôs most storied programs without him is another. Losing him for an extended period of time would be a serious blow to the Orange defense.
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With a banged-up secondary that struggled against Wake Forest, Syracuse is going to need to apply some pressure on Matt Barkley to prevent USC from marching up and down the field. Stopping the Trojans was already a tall order, but doing it without the anchor of the defensive line will be an even taller one.
Marrone has outlined the impact of losing Jones, repeatedly referring to him as SU’s best defensive player. The question is now how long Chandler will be on the sidelines.
With Jones immediately ruled out for the upcoming week, concern is beginning to grow that he may be on the shelf for longer than originally expected. At first, it seemed like it wasn‚Äôt that serious. Even after he was ruled out for URI, it was unclear if this was a long-term injury. Considering how cryptic Marrone usually is when it comes to injuries, Chandler being ruled out so quickly for USC could be a big concern.
Conflicting reports have swirled as to how long Chan might be out for, but it remains a ‚Äúwait and see‚Äù situation. However, at this point the Orange must begin to question how well it can handle life without Jones, however long that may be.
The good news is Syracuse does have depth at defensive end, and Chandler will be replaced by guys with some experience. Most of the responsibility will fall on senior Torrey Ball and junior Brandon Sharpe. Hope is not lost for the Orange D-Line: Ball has 1.5 tackles for loss and half a sack this season. Sharpe, considered a pass rushing specialist, posted 3.5 sacks in limited duty last year. Much of the slack will have to be picked up by Mikhail Marinovich bringing pressure from the opposite side of the line. Marinovich has yet to record a sack in the first two games.
In Marinovich, Sharpe, and Ball the Orange should have enough depth to survive a short stint without Chandler. But Jones is still the best of the bunch, and if the Syracuse defense is going to succeed long term, its going to need its best player back on the field sooner rather than later.
Posted: Steve Neikam