SU football earned ranked status for the first time 2019 last week. Seven days later, the Orange have vaulted into the top-20 and may not be done climbing. On the note of ’19, think back to how horrid the defense was that season. The situation was so bad that Dino Babers had to fire his coordinator during the season.
The ‘Cuse D ranked 11th out of 14 teams in scoring defense and 13th in total defense. Things took a turn for the worst in a 58-27 beat down loss which saw Boston College run for 496 yards with two different 150+ yard rushers with a walk-on quarterback under center. Syracuse finished 5-7 that year.
Fast forward three years and SU is now 5-0 and has the best scoring and total defense in the ACC why? Tony White.
The defensive coordinator had game-planned one singular game before coming to the Hill to lead the Orange defense. White was at the helm of Arizona State’s 20-14 win in the 2019 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl amidst the coaching changes in Tempe. Syracuse needs to be careful because that position has opened up once again after the Herm Edwards debacle.
White has been lauded as an elite recruiter for years and showed his brass as a position coach. The former high school football head coach has come to the 315 and added elite coordinating to his resume.
Syracuse’s 3-3-5 system has improved immensely each year its been deployed.
2020: 11th in scoring defense / 15th in total defense / 14th in rushing defense / 11th in passing defense
2021: 6th in scoring defense / 2nd in total defense / 4th in rushing defense / 2nd in passing defense
2022: 1st in scoring defense / 1st in total defense / 2nd in rushing defense / 2nd in passing defense
Now of course we’re only through five of the twelve games Syracuse will play this season. However, look at that massive jump from 2020 to 2021. It seems like the Orange are progressing to an even higher level this season.
White has done an excellent job taking what Syracuse had on its roster when he arrived and developing an elite defense with the innovative 3-3-5 system. Additionally, the Orange have reeled in some excellent talent on every level of its defense. Guys like Duce Chestnut in the secondary, Mekhi Mason at linebacker, and Francois Nolton along the defensive front.
There are a lot of vacancies every offseason and White’s name will be on a lot of short lists around the nation. The veteran defensive coach could get a big at a big-time Division 1 school if they are willing to drop the bag. Perhaps White could even snag a lower-level FBS job or even go back to Arizona State? He has head coaching experience going back to high school and has those elite recruiting skills.
The point is, Syracuse better pay Tony White this offseason if it wants its defense to continue to produce. Syracuse needs to pay White if it wants more top-25 rankings because defense wins championships.