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Syracuse football training camp opened Thursday, Aug. 5. The Daily Orange beat writer Anish Vasudevan will keep a running tab of updates from each practice this summer before SU’s first game at Ohio on Sept. 4. Follow along here and on Twitter @DOsports.
Last season, Syracuse implemented the 3-3-5 defense for the first time, placing an emphasis on pass coverage and less on stopping the run. But the new look wasn’t successful for the Orange — they finished 112th out of 127 teams in the NCAA’s defensive rankings.
Because of last season, SU’s first practice for the 2021 season was heavily focused on the setup to ensure that the team is ready when they face Ohio in a few weeks. Redshirt sophomore Garrett Williams, who led the ACC in passes defended, said the team is already taking “big leaps” from where they were last year as the team is already familiar with the system.
“We’re coming out here on the first day, everyone is familiar with the calls, comfortable with it,” Williams said. “Whereas last summer everyone was just trying to figure everything out.”
At the secondary, Williams is now at the forefront of a young core that lost veteran players Andre Cisco, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Trill Williams to the NFL this year. After the first practice, Williams said he and the younger players focused on knowing their “alignment and assignment” as the backbone of the second-year system.
But unlike the secondary, the first level of SU’s defense is a handful of veterans with players like Josh Black and McKinley Williams returning for their sixth season.
“I felt like I left a little on the table with our defense for the first time last year,” Black said about his performance last season. “It brings back a lot of chemistry also. We have a hidden language out there. We know what the others are thinking.”
Syracuse is now three seasons removed from its 10-3 record in 2018, a season that Black was a part of. He said the main reason for the team’s success in 2018 was because players went the extra mile, something he wants to help the team return to this year.
“If you look at our 10-3 season, our culture is where you want a winning program to be,” Black said. “The last few seasons the leadership kind of dropped, and it’s my responsibility to pick that up and make sure the culture is where it needs to be.”
Here at day two of training camp for Syracuse football.
— Anish Vasudevan (@anish_vasu) August 6, 2021
While SU’s defense is still in the beginning steps of updating its 3-3-5 playbook, on the other end, the Orange are in the midst of a quarterback battle between Tommy DeVito and Garrett Shrader. Black said that even though the competition is on the other side of the ball, the battle is challenging every player to be better at practice.
“It brings a lot of energy to the table,” Black said. “The offense is very hungry, and the defense is trying to make a play on the quarterbacks as well.”
Black added that Shrader and DeVito’s battle is not the only contest happening on the field. Every practice, each player will have to fight for their starting position so that SU doesn’t repeat its mishaps from last year.
“We can’t just keep thinking about last year,” Black said. “We got to get better and we have to improve.”
The post Syracuse football training camp blog 2021: Defense sharpens 3-3-5 playbook appeared first on The Daily Orange.