Syracuse’s defensive line needs to contain Clemson’s dual-threat quarterback Kelly Bryant

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 12, 2017 at 7:03 pm Contact Tomer: [email protected] | @tomer_langer By nearly every metric, Syracuse’s defense was bad last year. The unit allowed more than 500 yards and 38.6 points per game and defensive leader Zaire Franklin along with head coach Dino Babers stressed the need for improvement heading into 2017.And so far this year, the Orange has fulfilled those self-set expectations. The defense has limited teams to 24.3 points and 357.7 yards per game, receiving praise from Babers in close loses at Louisiana State and North Carolina State. The defense also kept SU in the game in a 27-24 win against Pittsburgh while the offense struggled.Syracuse (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) will face its toughest test of the season Friday night against No. 2 Clemson (6-0, 4-0). Overall talent aside, the Orange will have to contend with something it hasn’t consistently faced yet this season: a dual-threat quarterback, in the form of Clemson’s Kelly Bryant.“Bryant, he’s a different type of guy,” Franklin said. “He can really run, he can really move and his legs help him make a lot of plays.”It was unclear earlier in the week if Bryant would play against SU because of an ankle injury he suffered in the Tigers’ win over against Wake Forest on Saturday. As of Wednesday night, though, he was listed as “will play” on the Clemson injury report.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCourtesy of Clemson AthleticsBryant is 13th among all FBS quarterbacks with 66.8 rushing yards per game. Middle Tennessee State quarterback Brent Stockstill ran for 41 yards against SU earlier this season, the most yards the Orange has given up to a quarterback this season.“Obviously, when he has legs, we have to play different styles of defense” Babers said. “Spies and stuff like that.”Defensive ends Alton Robinson and Brandon Berry said that the containment role of the ends changes when going up against a mobile quarterback. For Berry, his goal is to make sure to still get off the line fast but ensure that he doesn’t run past the quarterback and allow him to stop and take off downfield.For Robinson, it’s a matter of the point he’s running toward. Typically, Robinson said, when ends crash around the tackles, they’re trying to hit a spot that is right where the quarterback is standing. Against dual-threats, that spot changes to about a yard or two outside.“We’ve got guys behind us that’ll be checking on (a running quarterback) too,” Robinson said. “So it’s not just on the ends.”Arguably the worst performance from SU’s defense last year came against Louisville and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Jackson averaged 120.8 rushing yards per game a year ago. He burned the Orange for 199 and four scores in that matchup.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorSyracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is a running threat himself. Franklin considers Dungey one of the best quarterbacks in the country. For him though, going up against Dungey in practice isn’t a major help. That’s because Dungey isn’t going at full game speed when he’s scrambling and the defensive players make sure not to hit Dungey. Dungey says that from his point of view, it helps weaken a defense.“Defenses have to respect it,” Dungey said. “It makes them second guess themselves.”Bryant is replacing another dual-threat quarterback at Clemson in two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson. Watson only played the first half against Syracuse last year, as he got hurt and the Tigers pulled him in a blowout victory.While Bryant is talented, Franklin said, he doesn’t compare to Watson because the latter was already a mature quarterback with a lot of starting experience. Bryant is still figuring out how he wants to play.The Orange will have its hands full trying to contain Clemson in most facets on Friday. And to keep the score close and maintain its stellar third-down defense, SU will need to contain Bryant to the pocket. Commentslast_img

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