Syracuse football midseason report card – Defense

Injuries have ravaged the Syracuse defense, as Shamarko Thomas, Olando Fisher and Chandler Jones have all missed multiple games. Because of that, it’s difficult to give an accurate assessment of Syracuse’s true potential on defense. That being said, games are played regardless of who is hurt, and the Orange, which has given up 27.3 points per game (68th in the NCAA), are a far cry from a defense that was ranked No. 7 in the country last year.

Defensive line

The Orange has gotten little pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as SU only has a combined 13 sacks on the year and has allowed 104.3 yards a game on the ground. The unit gets a bit of a break because Chandler Jones has been sidelined for most of the first half of the season with injuries. Jones’ absence has really hurt Mikhail Marinovich, who has just 19 tackles. Deon Goggins has been a pleasant surprise, though. GRADE: C-


The linebacker group definitely misses Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith. But SU has gotten decent production from Dan Vaughan (41 tackles) and Marquis Spruill (34). Another bright spot is freshman Dyshawn Davis, who leads the time in tackles for a loss with seven. GRADE: B


Oye. Where to start. SU’s secondary has definitely been its Achilles’ heel, as the Orange has given up 293 yards a game through the air. To sum up Syracuse’s struggles, take a look at Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin. In the games sandwiching Tulane’s game with Syracuse, Griffin passed for 74 and 77 yards, respectively, against Army and UTEP. Against Syracuse? He threw for a season-high 320 yards and two touchdowns. Granted, Shamarko Thomas and Olando Fisher have missed extended time, but there is no excuse for the field days opposing quarterbacks have had against SU. GRADE: D-

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]