Syracuse is gearing up for its matchup with Wake Forest on Saturday despite being shorthanded in the secondary. The Orange are working without four defensive backs who were listed on the Week 1 two-deep depth chart.
Boundary safety Eric Coley has not been active since Week 2 due to a leg injury. Trill Williams missed the Clemson game last week, and played sparingly against Liberty two weeks ago. All-American safety Andre Cisco is out for the year with a torn ACL, and opted out of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Cornerback Neil Nunn is also out for the year after tearing his ACL. The redshirt freshman underwent successful surgery earlier this week.
Nunn is far from the biggest loss on that list. He logged three tackles in his first four games. But SU is already inexperienced, especially in the secondary. True freshmen Ja’Had Carter and Rob Hanna have been thrown into the fire, while redshirt freshman Garrett Williams has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the conference.
So an already young team has had to rely on other young, potentially even more raw players to step in against ACC competition. Redshirt freshman safety Aman Greenwood took on an increased role due to the injury to Williams, for example.
A lot of Syracuse fans might not be too worried about the youth movement for the immediate future since Wake Forest focusses on the run game anyway. But the young secondary, while it has shown promise, has also been susceptible to the big play. SU has allowed five “explosive plays” (a run of 20+ yards, or a reception of 30+ yards) in the past two weeks alone.
So on Saturday, and likely for the rest of the season, the secondary will experience growing pains. But it will likely help Syracuse in the future. Ja’Had Carter and Rob Hanna were both redshirt candidates before the season began, but their impact role over the first six games of the season have allowed them to blossom into formidable ACC starters ahead of schedule.