After a double-digit win season in 2018, the hype train for the upcoming season in Syracuse is packed to the brim. The Orange are less than a month away from beginning their most-anticipated season in recent memory. If SU wants to continue its rise to national prominence, a few players are going to need to thrive.
Over the next few weeks, we‚Äôll detail the five players that need to have healthy, productive seasons if the Orange are going to meet the rising outside expectations.
#3 LB Andrew Armstrong
A lot like last year, the linebackers group has been a talking point this offseason. With no returning starters and the loss of an All-ACC second-teamer, Ryan Guthrie, there are some question marks. Armstrong is the most accomplished of the four returning backers for the Orange. The senior made 45 tackles, grabbed a pivotal interception against N.C. State and recovered two fumbles in 13 games a year ago. Expect him to fill the weakside linebacker role left vacant by Kielan Whitner.
Why Armstrong‚Äôs Production is crucial
The linebacking group needs a leader and Armstrong likely has to be that guy. He‚Äôs got the most experience and playing time logged of the bunch.
With a loaded secondary and strong group of edge rushers, this Syracuse defense is likely going to be good. To borrow Dino‚Äôs line though, they need Armstrong to be a reliable presence if they want to have a consistently good defense and not an occasionally great one.
In the latest Syracuse depth chart released right before camp, the linebackers looked as followed.
WLB: Andrew Armstrong, Mikel Jones
MLB: Lakiem Williams, Juan Wallace¬†
That‚Äôs two seniors starting but two unproven seniors. Jones brings loads of talent, but he‚Äôs the only true freshman listed on the defensive depth chart. It‚Äôs thin and outside of offensive line, it‚Äôs the biggest concern of any position group on the team right now.
Linebacker was a concern last year too though and that group answered the call. That brings optimism that Armstrong and Williams can slid in like Guthrie and Whitner did last year, considering their similar pedigree heading into their respective senior seasons.
It‚Äôs hard to imagine a Syracuse team that exceeds or meets expectations without a sollid season from Armstrong. Every defense needs a solid leader at the linebacker position. This year, Armstrong figures to be ready to take that step and be that guy.
We‚Äôll continue to unveil our top five throughout the month of August. Check back here on these days as we continue to get you ready for the much-anticipated 2019 football season. Also, make sure to check out our audio content on SoundCloud at Orange Fizz. We post a weekly show, podcasts and more.
August 1st: #5 Andre Cisco
August 5th: #4¬†Ryan Alexander
August 8th: #3 Andrew Armstrong
August 12th: #2
August 15th: #1