Week zero is here which means college football is officially back! Syracuse fans still have to wait until week one of course and September 4th but at least everyone knows what they’ll be doing this weekend. Our countdown proceeds today with SU’s fifth most important player, be sure to check out our previous selections (10,9,8,7,6)
Syracuse cornerback Garrett Williams gets the nod at the five slot. Some of you out there in Fizz Nation may question this placement because of how integral the redshirt-sophomore cornerback figures to be. After playing behind current Detroit Lion Ifeatu Melifonwu in 2020, Williams takes the reins of the CB1 job.
Of course the ACC honorable mention performer is integral to the defense and ultimately the team’s success. However, the reason why he’s on the edge of the top five and not the top three per se is because you know what you’re going to get from the six-foot, 190 pound defensive back.
There could be a bit of a learning curve early on and perhaps some struggles defending opposing WR1’s but Williams is a proven commodity in Tony White’s 3-3-5 defense and that shouldn’t change this fall. So is the North Carolina native the most important player on this 2021 Syracuse team? No. Is he the most skilled player on the squad? Yeah there’s definitely an argument to be made there.
Why Syracuse Needs Him
Williams broke out onto the scene last year and emerged as a playmaker and a shutdown corner. It’s not just because the former three-star recruit can intercept passes or cover, no. Williams can absolutely do it all from his secondary spot.
In 2020, the freshman All-American via The Athletic, totaled 64 tackles and twelve interceptions. This demonstrates Williams’ eagerness to help in run support while still excelling in the back end. There aren’t very many cornerbacks across the country that rack up that many tackles in just eleven games albeit. This season, Williams could break onto the scene at an even larger scale if he can continue to make tackles and be disruptive in multiple facets of his game.
The biggest thing with the newly minted number eight on SU’s roster is that if things go to plan this fall, Williams will take away one wide receiver (probably an opponent’s best) which forces other teams to find auxiliary options to move the ball. That’s why Williams is so critical to this SU team, he’s technically just one player out of eleven on the field, but he completely changes games by how he stresses out opposing coordinators and their gameplans.
Best Case Scenario
In a perfect world, what was just said one sentence ago comes to fruition. Williams, in large part, shuts down opponents WR1’s and forces teams to beat the Orange elsewhere. In that best case scenario, Syracuse dominates defensively by stacking the box or adding safeties over top to help in other coverage responsibilities.
A perfect season for Williams should include 65-plus tackles, seven tackles for loss, six interceptions, and fifteen passes defended. The Hickory Ridge High School alum can begin his quest to dominance in a little over a week against Ohio.
Worst Case Scenario
SU doesn’t have a ton of options at cornerback (proven at least) so there isn’t really a world in which Williams gets benched. The worst case scenario is that SU’s starting corner experiences a sophomore slump and struggles to compete with the opponent’s best receivers. Now, Syracuse could easily just run some more zone to aid in this effort but that’s not a solution that will nullify the problems created by this lack of success.
In a disastrous world, Williams takes a step back which forces the defense to change its scheme and get gashed on the ground. Teams come into the game 100-percent confident in their ability to throw the ball downfield and they do it with success. If this is the case, SU may not win a single ACC game because of how high scoring the contests’ would be.
So Garrett Williams is the Fizz’s pick for fifth most important player, be sure to check back right here on August 28th (Saturday) to find out who checks in at the fourth spot.
Monday, August 16 – #10 Garrett Shrader
Wednesday, August 18 – #9 Matthew Bergeron
Friday, August 20 – #8 Josh Black
Sunday, August 22 – #7 Anthony Queeley
Tuesday, August 24 – #6 Airon Servais
Thursday, August 26 – #5 Garrett Williams
Saturday, August 28 – #4 ?
Monday, August 30 – #3 ?
Wednesday, September 1 – #2 ?
Friday, September 3 – #1 ?