Orange Fizz


A Deep Dive into Syracuse’s Offensive and Defensive Evolution

Syracuse, known for its bold orange color adopted in 1890, has a rich history in college football. The university has produced some of the greatest players in the sport, including Jim Brown, John Mackey, Art Monk, and Marvin Harrison. In 1959, Syracuse won its only national title, led by running back Ernie Davis and head coach Ben Schwartzwalder. With the 2023 college football season here, the Orange is seeking to return to a bowl game and be a perennially strong team in the ACC.

The Shift in Defensive Strategy

In recent years, Syracuse has significantly shifted its defensive strategy. The team adopted the 3-3-5 defense, a system that uses three defensive linemen, three inside linebackers, and five defensive backs. This defense, also referred to as a 3-5-3 defense or a 3-3 stack, is the choice of Rocky Long and has been implemented by him after was named the defensive coordinator for Syracuse.

The Impact of the 3-3-5 Defense

The implementation of the 3-3-5 has had a profound impact on the team’s performance. This defensive tactic aims to prevent the opposition from gaining yards and scoring points through big plays down the field. It not only has frustrated quarterbacks, but it has also led to turnovers. The 3-3-5 defense has worked to varying degrees around the country, and a strong SU defense will help out its college football odds

Offensive Line Adjustments

The Orange has made significant strides in its offensive line, last year contributing to their first winning season since 2018. A key player in this transformation was guard Chris Bleich, who has returned for another season.

Last year, Syracuse ran the ball on over 60% of their offensive plays. This strategy was largely successful due to the strength and coordination of the offensive line. The linemen’s discipline in maintaining their set positions until the snap count was crucial in avoiding false start penalties.

The Role of Coaching

The leadership and coaching style of new coordinator Rocky Long will be instrumental in the team’s success and it was effective in the opener. His knowledge and coaching style have been praised by many players, and the defense has responded well under his leadership over his career. The team’s ability to adapt to new defensive strategies and make necessary adjustments to the offensive line can be attributed to effective coaching.

The Role of Key Players

Another significant aspect of the Orange evolution is the role of key players. Success is not solely dependent on strategies and coaching; it also relies heavily on the skills, determination, and performance of its players. 

Over the years, Syracuse has produced a number of standout players who have made a significant impact on the field. Players like Eric Dungey, who was a four-year starter at quarterback and led the Orange to a 10-win season in 2018, and Andre Cisco, an All-American safety who is now a key contributor on the Jacksonville Jaguars, have left indelible marks on the program. The team’s success has been largely attributed to their leadership and capacity to produce clutch plays under urgent circumstances.

Looking Ahead

As the Orange head into this season, they continue to evolve and adapt their strategies to improve their performance and increase their college football odds. With a strong legacy, innovative defensive strategies, critical offensive adjustments, and effective coaching, the team is well-positioned for success. The Orange’s biggest game will come at home in the JMA Wireless Dome on Sept. 30, facing conference favorites Clemson in front of a full crowd. After Clemson’s loss to Duke, that game looks even more enticing for the Orange to get a big win.


The evolution of the Syracuse offensive and defensive strategies provides an intriguing case study of the dynamic nature of college football. As the team continues to adapt and evolve, fans and analysts alike will be watching closely to see how these changes impact their performance in the upcoming seasons.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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