The silver lining to Syracuse’s first 0-2 start since 2013 is the defense. First year coordinator Tony White’s 3-3-5 base system forced two interceptions on reigning All-ACC Second Team quarterback Sam Howell in Week 1 against No. 18 North Carolina. Last Saturday, the fallacy that the scheme could not stop the run or pressure the quarterback after sacrificing a down-lineman was exposed when the Orange sacked No. 25 Pittsburgh signal caller Kenny Pickett three times and forced three fumbles.
The two top-25 offenses presented early onerous tests for SU, which they passed, but Week 3 against Georgia Tech is a whole different animal. With the Yellow Jackets abandoning the option offense this year, true freshman quarterback Jeff Sims ranks second in the conference with 521 passing yards, but he won’t try to challenge the strong secondary downfield. Instead, he will be challenging the second level with the intermediate passing game.
But the Orange will also have to be aware of Sims’ speed. The Jacksonville, FL native has the sixth-most rushing yards in the ACC through two games, and leads his team. In fact, no other Yellow Jacket ranks in the top-25 in the ACC’s rushing category.
This should be an interesting challenge for the 3-3-5 because it has never seen a quarterback quite like Sims. Then again, it should match up nicely. With Andre Cisco as the rover, Sims likely won’t have the space he is used to when escaping the pocket. The All-American safety should also be able to help the linebackers on Sims’ quick throws. That means White will force another position group to beat the Orange.
Much like Syracuse, if the Georgia Tech offense gets on schedule the drive likely won’t last. Should defensive ends Kingsley Jonathan and Josh Black pressure Sims and force a couple of sacks, the Yellow Jackets won’t have the playmakers to move the chains outside of a “manageable” distance.