As a returning starter, defensive tackle Deon Goggins is expected to be reliable. In Fall camp, defensive line coach Tim Daoust went to Goggins for answers to help the entire line. Goggins was rarely criticized for his technique or had to repeat a drill.
In the Orange's first game of the season against Northwestern, Goggins continued to provide aid to the team with his presence on the field. With his two solo tackles to go with one assisted, Goggins helped to push Northwestern backward. He achieved his first sack of the season in this first game of the new football year. And he did it against a quarterback who is very capable of gaining yardage on the ground.
Syracuse's defense had trouble last season stopping or even containing, at times, running quarterbacks. Despite allowing Northwestern's quarterback Kain Colter 40 yards on the ground, including one touchdown, they took away 19 yards from him.
Goggins gave credit to a backup on the Orange roster for helping prepare them for Colter.
"They got us prepared in camp with John Kinder," Goggins shared. "John Kinder did a great job. He's a real shifty guy. If you ask me, he's a little more shifty than Colter, so us chasing him all practice was a great thing for us to do in practice, and it helped us. It helped us a lot, and he does a great job."
But Kinder was not the only backup on the Syracuse unit getting credit for helping the defense to prepare for the game.
"Our scout team did great, even our line," Goggins stated. "For example, Kyle Knapp. He's one of those ones that goes 100 every play and that got us ready for [Northwestern]. I really believe it got us ready as a D-line, going up against some of those scout team guys."
"The team is a lot closer," Goggins expressed. "We're a brotherhood, and as you see, we played that [way] coming back."
The redshirt-senior defensive tackle credits the team's time at Fort Drum with how they fought back in their first game against Northwestern.
"Going to Fort Drum was a big help because they always talked to us out there about everything's not gonna go as planned, going into battle," Goggins said. "And that's what it was [against Northwestern]. We…wanted to go in there and dominate and win and it didn't go as planned, and we still came back and rose to the occasion, but we fell short.
"It's just gonna take the attention to detail and just getting the details right."
With the help of Goggins, the defense kept the Wildcats' offense silent while Syracuse's offensive unit scored 28 points after being down 35-13. However, with the score at 41-35, the defense struggled to contain Northwestern on their most important stop opportunity.
Despite the touchdown allowed by the defense, Goggins remains positive.
"On the last drive, we did good," Goggins remarked. "We just were too pumped. We just had to keep our composure. It was just a miscommunication on one of the calls. And us being out there, us being hyped, and us being happy, us coming back, you know, it's just one of those things we have to learn how to just keep our composure. Stay level. Get all our checks down…so stuff like that won't happen."
As far as the return of his teammate on the defensive line, defensive tackle Jay Bromley, Goggins shared, "Oh man, it felt good. That's like my little brother."
"It felt good, ‘cause it kinda felt a little weird not having him in rotation in camp," Goggins continued. "Just me and [defensive tackle Eric] Crume holding it down for the one's. But, I mean, having him back [against Northwestern], it really felt good ‘cause I had my wingman and I'm his wingman. We had each other right there on the side by side. Even him and Crume ‘cause we like to communicate out there and let each other know what's going on."
Goggins took a step even further when speaking on the frontline of the defense. "We're very tight as a D-line as a whole. We're very tight. Me and Eric Crume and Bromley, even the new guy's that's in."
A team with closer bonds. A return of a trusted partner on the defensive line. A scouting unit that provided a respectable example of what to expect. All positive, but yet a win did not result from them.
So what does Syracuse have to do? "As a team, we just have to go out…and just get the little things right," according to Goggins. "Just pay more attention to detail. That's gonna be the key to the season this year. The big things, as far as getting everything right, knowing what we're supposed to do on defense, knowing what we're supposed to do on offense, we have that…kinda what we lacked last year."
Syracuse will have another opportunity to pay better attention to detail when they take on the team that Goggins had one of his best outings against in his short career as a member of the Orange, the USC Trojans. Goggins will look to add to his six tackles from last season's match-up as well as continue to apply pressure to Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley when they meet on Saturday, September 8th, at 3:30pm Eastern in New York's College Classic at MetLife Stadium.