When Andre Cisco and Ed Hendrix collided in warmups before the Georgia Tech game, there was plenty of concern among the Syracuse fan base.
But after intercepting four Jeff Sims passes and recovering a fumble, a deep Syracuse defense – and secondary – showed it could handle business without the preseason All-American.
Trill Williams was today named the ACC Defensive Back of the week after finishing with five tackles, two pass break-ups, a pick and a defensive touchdown after true freshman Ja’Had Carter lateraled the ball following an interception.
Overall, Syracuse allowed just one touchdown through the air and held Georgia Tech to 178 passing yards. Sims completed just 13-28 passes. While he struggled with pressure from SU’s defensive line and defensive coordinator Tony White blitzes, the secondary covered well on the back end.
And while Williams had a tremendous game, the most encouraging takeaway on defense was the play of young players in the secondary. In his first game suiting up for the Orange, true freshman Rob Hanna led the team with nine tackles, including a tackle for a loss and his first career interception. With Cisco out, Hanna had an opportunity to play and shined in his debut.
Besides Hanna, Carter had a great game outside of his interception which led to an Orange score. While the play turned into a highlight reel touchdown, it showed his inexperience by lateralling to Williams. However, Carter was second on the team with eight tackles, in his third game for Syracuse.
What makes Hanna and Carter’s success even more impressive is that they are doing this after the most unpredictable offseason college football may have ever had. Syracuse’s secondary is playing young guys, and they are showing out.
That’s a credit to White and secondary coach Nick Monroe. Eventually, Syracuse will have to prepare for life after Cisco. Georgia Tech proved as a litmus defense to see how the defense would hold up without its star. And while it’s just one game, the results were very promising.