Syracuse is playing in a bellwether game on Friday evening against Liberty, and to get a snapshot of the state of the team, we checked in with former Syracuse linebacker Jake Flaherty in this week’s The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, presented by SNY.tv.
Flaherty played in all 47 games during his career and was captain of the defense as a senior in 2008. Speaking from that standpoint, he likes what he sees from a stingy defense that’s allowed just 16.7 points per game through three games.
“The defense looks strong,” Flaherty said. “Tony White is putting them in a position to succeed.”
Flaherty was particularly impressed with true freshman cornerback Duce Chestnut, who has exploded on the scene as a starter, and quickly established himself as one of the team’s most reliable defenders. He was given the game ball after his debut against Ohio where he finished with eight tackles, a team high five solo tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.
Flaherty, of course, also likes what he sees from the group of linebackers led by Mikel Jones, and the defensive front which accounted for 14 TFLs in a 62-24 win over FCS Albany.
That win, Flaherty says, was also critical for the offense in establishing its identity.
“I love that we’re establishing a run game with Sean Tucker,” Flaherty said, complimenting Tucker’s five TD performance against the Great Danes.
While Syracuse struggled last season, going 1-10, and looked lost in a 17-7 loss to Rutgers, Flaherty and the rest of the alumni base have remained supportive of head coach Dino Babers.
“All alumni want nothing more than to be in a bowl game in Florida come January,” Flaherty said. “We know Coach Babers can get it done, and we’ve seen him get it done before.”
These days, Flaherty works in business development at Terzo, a new software platform that allows suppliers and customers to collaborate on tasks like managing contracts, tracking goals or evaluating opportunities.
Working at Terzo has been especially impactful for Flaherty because of the company’s strong Syracuse connections. Terzo’s CEO, Brandon Card, is a former Syracuse linebacker who played with Flaherty at SU. Co-founder Al Giocondi is a former Syracuse lacrosse midfielder, and among the investors includes former SU linebacker Rich Scanlon.
“It comes full circle to be working with people that you’ve gone to battle with in football,” Flaherty said. “There’s more of an emotional investment when you’re approaching business because these are teammates, these are people you don’t want to let down.”
Afterward, editor in chief Brad Bierman calls in to preview Syracuse’s week 4 matchup against Liberty.