Even though one of SU’s top playmakers from last season in Andre Cisco roams the Orange’s secondary, the unit as a whole struggled mightily last year. Syracuse finished 114th in the FBS in opponent passing yards allowed, with over 265 yards allowed per game. Some of that is due to other offense’s attempting to keep up with the Orange’s high powered offense. But if SU can develop a stingy secondary, pressure is taken off a young linebacker core. It also allows for more time for edge rushers like Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson to get to the quarterback.
Fortunately for the squad, the backend of the defense will be deep and full of veterans. And while the secondary gave up a lot of yards, SU finished fifth in the country with 18 interceptions. Again, Dino Babers’ up-tempo offense can take some credit for this, just as it can take some blame for defensive passing yards allowed. Opponents are often trying to keep up with Syracuse’s scoring, so they’re forced to chuck deep ball after deep ball. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
But with a young linebacker core, it’s imperative to have a secondary that inexperienced players can rely on to cover up for mistakes. Outside of Cisco, someone else needs to have a breakout year. Maybe that’s rising senior Chris Fredrick who picked off three passes next year. Maybe Ifeatu Melifonwu pushes Scoop Bradshaw for a starting spot. Bradshaw struggled mightily at times last year, and at 6-foot-3, Melifonwu has the size DB coaches dream about. And it helps when you have legs made of steel too.
— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) June 24, 2019
Of course, there are freshmen coming in who will be looking for playing time. It will be tough to crack the rotation for playing time early on, but we never know who will stand out and become a team leader. Just look at Andre Cisco.